Patient of the Week: Guadalupe Murrelet
On January 6, a small, unusual bird was found stowing away on a boat bound for the Port of Los Angeles and was brought into our L.A. wildlife center for care. Little did the rescuer know that the bird he had found was an endangered Guadalupe Murrelet.
Guadalupe Murrelets were once considered the same species as Scripps’s Murrelets and lumped together under the species name Xantus’s Murrelet. In 2012, it was determined that the two were in fact distinct species with their own separate breeding populations. The Guadalupe Murrelet can be distinguished from the Scripps’s by the amount of white plumage on its face extending up and around the eye. These tiny auks are threatened by invasive species on their breeding islands off the coast of Baja as well as by the effects of climate change.
This is the first Guadalupe Murrelet we’ve ever had the opportunity and privilege to rehabilitate! Thankfully, the patient arrived in fairly good body condition but was suffering from toe and hock lesions. Our team closely monitored its condition over the course of two weeks and quickly fell in love with this little bird’s cute features and feisty attitude. The murrelet did well in care and spent most of its time in one of our outdoor pelagic pools where it could swim and dive alongside other smaller species such as Eared Grebes and Ruddy Ducks.
On Jan 25, our friends at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium carefully loaded this former patient onto their research boat and gave it an open ocean release, which allowed it to have a fresh start closer to its natural range. We were sad to see this little murrelet go, but are thrilled to have helped a member of an endangered species recover and return to its home in the wild!
We are grateful to supporters like you that make it possible for us to respond when birds like this little murrelet are in crisis. If you would like to help us continue this work, please consider donating today.