Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

April 16, 2009

High winds causing Cormorant strandings?

A notable spike in patients has local marine bird rescuers puzzled. In the last two days, International Bird Rescue Research Center in Northern California has received 13 stranded marine birds, mosty Brandt’s cormorants. Eleven more of the snake-necked birds are expected to arrive from San Jose, CA this afternoon.

Another oddity is that many were found in Bay Area parking lots and on roads when they should be found on beaches or jetties.

For these specialists in aquatic bird rehabilitation, a higher than normal number of patients always signifies a greater problem, as was the case this winter with the scores of ailing pelicans.

While it is premature to say exactly why so many of these birds are falling ill, Jay Holcomb, director of the aquatic bird facility believes the recent high winds may have contributed to the strandings.

This speculation that unusual weather or climate change may be impacting sea birds is supported by recent word from Farallon Islands researchers that the Brandt’s cormorants have not started nesting, as they should. The atypical winds, choppy seas, and sparse zooplankton may be the reason.

Last year researchers reported the smallest breeding population of Brandt’s with the lowest reproductive success in twenty years. Researchers hope this is not the sign of another colony failure.

The birds in convalescence are being treated for superficial wounds and are doing well. The rescue organization is asking for help from the public in reporting birds that appear injured or stranded and donations to help cover the cost of their care.

For rescues people are urged to call the California wildlife hotline at 866-WILD-911 for the nearest rescuer.

News reports:

KTVU-2: High Winds May Be Injuring Cormorants

CBS-5: High Winds Pose Threat To Sea Bird Nesting

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2 Responses to “High winds causing Cormorant strandings?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    We saw the story on our local news about Cormorants strandings. As I was about to leave the El Cerrito BART Station this evening, I noticed a Cormorant wandering along the street, in the middle of the passenger-pick-up area. It was alone and seemed diorinted and so vulnerable. I noticed a woman in her car, talking on her cell-phone. I didn’t know at the time, she was trying to call for help for the bird. I quickly walked back to BART to ask an officer to call for help. I approached a BART Police Officer and tried to explain the situation to him. He reluctantly walked out of station area and told me he would call Animal-Control. I wasn’t feeling very confident in his response. Soon, my boyfreind arrived to pick me up, we were both concerned for the bird’s welfare and decided to park and try to call for help from the BART parking lot. The Cormorant continued to stand in the middle of the road, not knowing where to go. The woman I had seen on her phone was now standing guard, redirecting traffic away from the bird. I joined her, while she and my boyfriend continued to call for help on their cell-phones. Eventually we were able to contact a volunteer from the International Bird Rescue Research Center.
    As we waited for help to arrive, good samaritans gathered to watch over and protect the bird. I was so relieved when the woman-volunteer (didn’t get her name in the excitement) arrived. A group of 5 of us circled the bird slowly and after a few close-calls, managed to catch the bird with a blanket and shirt. The whole experience was very moving and emotional for me. A group of random stranger gathering around and rescuing a lost, helpless Cormorant. Thank You to all who helped. Thank you to the International Bird Rescue Research Center for being there/here!

  2. Webcoot Says:

    Thanks for sharing your terrific story of helping this helpless cormorant. We appreciate all your thoughtful efforts!

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