“A giant tropical bird – a type rarely, if ever, seen in the Bay Area – got stuck in the vortex of a hurricane-force Pacific storm this month and took a dizzying Wizard of Oz-like ride hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles off course.
That’s the theory of how it ended up in a tree in Healdsburg.
The gangly, feathered galoot with a hooked beak and wingspan topping 7 feet is recovering at a Bay Area animal rescue center after a couple of bird watchers spotted it in the tree and knew right away that it was alien to Northern California.
It was positively identified Tuesday as a male juvenile magnificent frigatebird, known scientifically as Fregata magnificens. The species is known to inhabit the tropical Atlantic, the Caribbean and Cape Verde Islands. Although frigatebirds breed along the Pacific coast as far north as Mexico, they are most at home in steaming hot equatorial regions like the Galapagos Islands.
“In our entire 37 years, we’ve never treated one in Northern California,” said Monte Merrick, a wildlife rehabilitator for the International Bird Rescue Research Center, in Cordelia. “There have been sightings, but those sightings are rare.”
Posts Tagged ‘Chronicle’
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
…Bird experts figure that for every bird found dead or alive, about five to 10 others go unreported because they sink at sea, get eaten by predators or fly elsewhere. That would put the fatality number at up to 21,500 birds.
I recommend checking out the online version of its printed paper. Remember those? They cost 50 cents and used to get ink smudges everywhere. Until they switched to soy based inks…but I digress.
Nearly 1.6 million shorebirds and waterfowl come to San Francisco Bay each year, most staying for the winter, some stopping on their way south. Wildlife experts fear that oil washing onto sandy beaches and wetlands threatens bird’s survival. See map
What worries experts most is that migrating birds are stopping in the spill soaked bay as they head south for the winter along the Pacific Flyway. Even a quick stop over may kill the birds as they leave with feathers contaminated by the oil.
So far, about 1,500 birds have been picked up dead or alive, including Scaups, Scoters, Grebes, Loons, Cormorants and even Marbled Murrelets and Snowy Plovers. See update on www.ibrrc.org
Wildlife rescue crews are still finding oiled birds in every nook and cranny of the bay. See: Search for birds goes on