Tucson Wildlife Center takes in seabirds blown off course

Published: Aug. 12, 2017 at 12:54 AM MST|Updated: Aug. 12, 2017 at 9:50 AM MST
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(Source: Tucson Wildlife Center)
(Source: Tucson Wildlife Center)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Two seabirds wound up at the Tucson Wildlife Center in the past couple of weeks.

The first was a red-billed tropic bird that flew into the backyard of an east-side home after a storm.

After spending a few days at the TWC, the bird was driven to a rehabilitation center in California, where it was released back into the wild.

On Wednesday, Aug. 9, the TWC got a call from a local law enforcement agency saying someone d ropped off a severely injured brown pelican. Unfortunately, the pelican died before staff members could take care of it.

Lou Rae Whitehead, the animal care supervisor at the TWC, said these birds get blown off course during monsoon storms and find themselves in Tucson.

(Source: Tucson Wildlife Center)

Last year, the center took in about 12 seabirds.

Whitehead said they prepare for the influx making sure there is plenty of food, fish, ready for them.

She said it can take days or weeks before a bird is ready to be released into the wild.

"The pelicans are usually pretty down and full of bugs," Whitehead said.

The larger seabirds can't take off or land as easily as smaller birds, according to Whitehead.

"The tropic birds can't really fly and take off from the ground. They have to have a wind or a big lake or something to fly," she said. "The roads look like water to them and they'll land and can't get back up."

The TWC said if you come across a seabird, don't try to take care of them yourself and call their 24-hour helpline at 520-290-9453.

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