The shearwater breeding season has begun, so Sea Life Park wants to remind you to be on the look out for baby seabirds.
“We are already seeing an influx of Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters at this time,” said park curator Jeff Pawloski. “During Hawaii’s winter months, fledging birds sometimes become disoriented while flying at night because of street and other exterior lighting. As a result they may tire and land far from their nesting area. This puts them in extreme danger.”
If the bird is a hatchling (freshly hatched, no feathers) or a nestling (fuzzy, few feathers) and shows no signs of injuries, it is best for the bird to be left alone, as it will probably return to its nest. The bird may not have been abandoned by its mother, and she may be nearby.
A fledgling (with most of its feathers, frequently hops on the ground) is often seen on the ground near bushes or tall grass. It leaves the nest as part of the weaning process or may hop out to test its wings. Usually, the mother remains in the area, feeding and watching over it. If you see the mother, it’s best to leave the bird alone.
However, if you come across a fledgling and do not see the mother, or the bird has apparent injuries such as a bent wing, or is in an unsafe situation (i.e. a predator such as a dog or cat is lurking nearby), follow these temporary care instructions:
- Pick it up from behind, wrapping a cloth around its back and wings.
- Find a medium/large-sized box and place a folded towel at the bottom.
- Ensure there are holes in the box big enough for airflow.
- Place the bird in the box and keep in a dark, quiet place.
- Keep the bird warm.
- Please don’t feed or leave a dish of water for the bird.
- Leave the bird alone; don’t handle or bother it and always keep children and pets away.
On Oahu, injured seabirds can be taken to the Seabird Rehabilitation Facility at Sea Life Park. The facility is equipped to receive injured birds 24/7. Anyone dropping off an injured bird is asked to provide information on where the bird was found as requested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.