10 birds return to San Francisco Bay after month-long rehab

Saturday, October 24, 2015
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Some very happy birds are back at home in the San Francisco Bay after more than a month in rehab.

SAUSALITO, Calif. (KGO) -- Some very happy birds are back at home in the bay tonight after more than a month in rehab.

Russ Curtis let his 12-year-old do the honors of releasing 10 common murres back to their home in San Francisco Bay. It's been a long road for these seabirds.

"These birds have been with us for four to five weeks," Curtiss said.

They've been at the International Bird Rescue in Fairfield, many of them being fed through tubes, to regain their strength. The murres, which look a little like penguins, were found along Bay Area beaches.

"People would often say, 'Hey, I saw a penguin on the beach. What's it doing on the beach? These birds should not be on a beach, they should be out in the ocean fishing,'" Curtis said.

Murres can dive hundreds of feet underwater to find fish but the ones found on the beaches were hungry.

"So these common murres are telling us there's a changing, theres' a change going on in the environment, and they're having a harder time finding fish,"

The one lingering question for wildlife experts is why? To take in 10 of these birds in a month would be normal, but they've taken in 450 in a three month period.

"We've never had this many birds this time of the year come in,"

And they do have a theory -- climate change.

The ocean waters off the NorCal coast this summer were 5 to 10 degrees warmer. We believe that because of the warmth, the fish are diving deeper, the fish that they forage for,"

Murres are often the first to show up at the bird rescue after events like oil spills, with others like pelicans showing up later. At least 60 are still being nursed back to health. In a few weeks, that hard work will pay off.

"Yeah, it goes by, 10 seconds and they're back out in the wild, but it is it's a feeling that lasts a lot longer than that," xx said.