California Seabird Chicks Are Saved From Drowning Through Ingenious Rescue Methods

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The most humane act you can do is for someone who can never repay you. An ingenious solution by animal rescuers has saved the young of thousands of California seabird chicks. The International Bird Rescue, a non-profit for wildlife rehabilitation based in California has been caring for hundreds of chicks of the elegant Tern/ the juveniles who had hatched at their Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve nesting site in Orange County.

California Seabird Chicks


The California seabird chicks were displaced by two drones that illegally flew to their nesting sites. One of them crashed and caused the chicks to give up their nests and head for two barges parked 25 miles away in Long Beach Harbor. The two barges were forced to stay because of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The birds were packed densely on the two barges. The frightened California seabird chicks began jumping off the barges into the water and floated helplessly in the waters. It was not their natural nesting grounds, and they were unable to return to their parents as the barges were too high for the chicks to scramble up the 3 to 5 feet high platform.

Most of the vulnerable chicks would have died without timely intervention and resuscitation. Close to 3,000 California seabird chicks hatched and began roaming around the barges. Many plummeted into the sea. Many did die but most of the California seabird chicks were saved. Around 500 chicks were taken by the rescuers to their wildlife center temporarily before a permanent solution for their rehabilitation could be found.

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The immediate need for the California seabird chicks was to move them away from the barges and the surrounding water and move them to a warm and dry place before returning them to the barges. Other rescue organizations joined in to patrol the area and pick up the birds that fell into the water.

California Seabird Chicks Saved By Floating Platforms

Another ingenious method adopted by the rescuers was attaching temporary platforms. These haul-outs were connected to the floating barges and acted like steps for the birds to climb back up, and onto their temporary home on the barges. The recovered California seabird chicks were returned to their parents on the barges.

The haul-outs were a marked success and the rescuers had to build several more to prevent overcrowding on the innovative platforms that were made from recycled floating materials like bottles.

California Seabird Chicks

The rescuers marked the rescued chicks in red before returning them. A band was also attached to their legs to observe their interaction after they were transferred to their nesting place. The rescuers were pleased that the birds were behaving normally and were accepted by the adult birds.

The CEO  of International Bird Rescue, J.D.Bergeron said that the parents were better able to handle the birds than humans. The rescue already had 500 birds to care for. They were fed two to four times each day. Volunteers helped and plenty of fish was ordered to feed the hungry chicks.

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The California seabird chicks rescue proved a success with the placement of the haul-outs and the care given to the floundering baby terns. The birds in the water have gradually gone down, and dead chicks are no more found floating in the vicinity of the barges. Most of the rescued terns are fledglings now and are learning to fly. But the haul-out has become popular for other birds, both non-flighted and flighted, who use it extensively.

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The rescue measures were a success thanks to the rescuers who were able to mitigate and save the flightless chicks which would surely have perished in their thousands. The administration needed to ban the flights of drones totally from the area as they have been regularly frightening off the birds. The general public has been requested to stay away from the delicate rescue operation for the California seabird chicks.

There is also the issue of warming seas that are having a negative effect on the breeding efforts of the bird colonies on their primary nesting island in the Gulf of California. The rising temperatures have led to a food shortage for the elegant terns. Overfishing of the forage fish has also worsened the problem.

All Image Credits:  International Bird Rescue

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