Tropical bird gets blown into Bay Area

January 8, 2008 8:03:40 PM PST
The storm that blew through the Bay Area last weekend took down more than power lines. A lot of birds were injured and blown off course by the high winds.

The International Bird Rescue and Research Center in Cordelia is a busy bird hospital and rehab center. Right now, there are more than a hundred birds there. Many were injured when high winds blew them into power lines and fences or when they landed on a flooded road thinking it was a lake.

"It's kind of like an oil spill without the oil," says Jay Holcomb, International Bird Rescue and Research Center.

Jay Holcomb runs the center. He says most birds will be released after less than a week. However, one bird will be staying longer.

They're not sure, but they believe they found a tropical Frigatebird. It was 40-feet up in a Healdsburg pine tree on Saturday. It's in very critical condition so we weren't allowed to see it today.

Tom Whiteman is a bird rescue volunteer and he was there when it was found. He says it appears young and starving.

"It got blown up the river canyon and tangled in a tree in Healdsburg. Frigatebirds are not expected off the Sonoma coast in winter, absolutely not," says Whiteman.

Betty Burridge is an amateur ornotholigist who has edited and written two books on the birds of Sonoma County. She helped identify the Frigatebird. Burridge says she's not sure yet which of the five kinds of Frigatebirds was found in Healdsburg.

"It has the longest wingspan in proportion to its body of any bird in the world," says Burridge.

Burrdige is looking forward to what she calls a once-in a lifetime chance to get up close to a Frigatebird if it survives. It could be next week before its out of critical condition.