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Tucson Wildlife Center treats seabirds blown in by hurricane Newton

Published: Sep. 9, 2016 at 10:19 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Rain was not only swept in by hurricane Newton, but several hundred Storm-Petrels (seabirds) as well, according to the Tucson Wildlife Center who has fielded several calls about sightings of these unique birds.

The Storm-Petrel is dark in color and about the size and shape of a small swallow, with a curved bill and webbed feet.  They have a distinctive feature, a tube-like nostril atop the bill, according to TWC that allows the bird to drink salt water and then dispose of the salt.

"Hundreds have been sighted south of Tucson, blown in from the hurricane," said Lisa Bates, co-founder of Tucson Wildlife Center, in a recent release. "These guys are pelagic ocean birds from the Sea of Cortez. They won't survive in the desert or in fresh water, so it is imperative people get them to us so we can stabilize them and transport them to a California bird rescue."

According to TWC, without immediate treatment the Storm-Petrels will die.

"At night a wet parking lot looks like water and many of these birds will strand, in exhaustion, on the hard surface of the pavement," said Dr. Pat Latas, Tucson Wildlife Center's veterinarian. "The birds will be injured and physiologically depleted from the terrifying ride on the hurricane, and in desperate need of medical attention. Some can be saved and returned to the ocean. And those that die can help document the species and events, and help direct policy to conserve the ocean's seabirds — who are in great peril from human impact alone."

Those who come across a Storm-Petrel or any other stranded seabird, should put it in a box lined with a soft shirt or cloth and bring it to the TWC right away. According to Dr. Latas the bird SHOULD NOT be given food or water.

"If it is a larger bird, beware that they bite and have very sharp edges to their beak and hooks on the end that can do real damage," warns Dr. Latas. "For those larger birds, wrap them, burrito-like and place them in the covered box while transporting them to Tucson Wildlife Center as soon as possible."

For more information or if you see wildlife in need of help, call Tucson Wildlife Center at 520-290-WILD (9453).

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