Seabirds washing ashore along coast at alarming rate due to winter storms, Monterey Co. SPCA says

Lauren Martinez Image
Thursday, February 8, 2024
Seabirds washing ashore due to winter storms: Monterey Co. SPCA
Right now, the SPCA Monterey County is acting like an emergency hospital for seabirds.

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Right now, the SPCA Monterey County is acting like an emergency hospital for seabirds.

Beth Brookhouser, VP of Marketing & Communications for SPCA Monterey County said the birds are in critical condition.

"These birds are coming into us hypothermic, emaciated and in desperate need of care," Brookhouser said.

Staff say they're rescuing dozens of seabirds getting pushed from the ocean and onto the shore due to recent winter storms.

"With the rough seas, and the high winds and all the rain, if they lose their waterproofing at all, they can crash really fast," Brookhouser said.

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Waterproofing feathers on seabirds helps keep them warm and buoyant.

Brookhouser explained seabirds can lose their waterproofing if they get any oil on them.

"We also have a natural oil seepage from time to time in Monterey Bay, so some natural oils come to the surface. It's not an oil spill," Brookhouser said.

From the most recent storms, oil is getting churned up in the ocean and getting on these seabirds.

"So what we're asking the public to do is that if they see a seabird on the beach, if they can very safely -- with a towel or blanket gather it up -- put it in a box that they can breathe in and not escape from," Brookhouser said.

Staff at Native Animal Rescue of Santa Cruz County are also receiving calls to help these birds made for swimming, not land.

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Amy Red Feather has been a Wildlife Technician with NAR for 11 years.

"Their legs actually don't work, so they're not able to walk like a normal bird would -- their legs are set very far back on their body. They're made for swimming. They're not made for land, so those birds need to be rescued immediately before dogs get to them," Red Feather said.

This longtime wildlife technician said they are seeing many more oiled birds than they would normally see during a storm.

"So as we're seeing the storms get more severe, we're seeing more and more casualties from those storms. We don't remember it being this bad when storms have it in the past," Red Feather said.

If a member of the public finds a seabird on a beach on land that doesn't look like it belongs, don't hesitate to call wildlife groups.

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"If you ever see a seabird on the beach, a bird that just doesn't look like it belongs there, please call for help. If you're in the Monterey area, call the SPCA Wildlife Center but there are wildlife rescue centers throughout California that can help out during this time," Brookhouser said.

"Never hesitate to call no question is too simple we're here every single day wildlife does not take holidays or weekends so neither do we so we will always be here for your calls," Red Feather said.

This Friday, the seabirds currently receiving care in Monterey and Santa Cruz will be transported to the International Bird Rescue in Fairfield.

Once they're rehabilitated, they'll be released back into the wild.

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