Every year, from mid-September to December, seabird chicks leave their nests and make their first nocturnal flight from their nesting burrow to the sea. Guided by moonlight, the lights from cities, towns and homes can confuse these young birds — and even some adults — and cause them to fall inland rather than continue out to the ocean.
Downed seabirds may acquire impact injuries and, once grounded, are also vulnerable to dangers including passing cars and predators. You can help protect our native seabirds by being prepared and knowing what to do if you find a downed bird,” said Rae Okawa of the Hawaii Wildlife Center.
“To prepare, keep a clean towel, pillowcase or large T-shirt and a ventilated cardboard box, pet carrier or other non-airtight container in your car. If you find a downed seabird, gently pick up the bird from behind with a towel, carefully wrapping the material completely around its back and wings. Place it in the ventilated container as soon as possible.
“Keep the bird covered and in a quiet, cool location and do not feed, water or handle it. Take the bird to a permitted wildlife rehabilitation center or contact your island’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife office for further directions. Do not attempt to release the bird yourself, as it may have internal injuries or be too tired or weak to survive. Throwing the bird in the air could also cause additional harm,” Okawa said.
For more information and a list of contact numbers, visit www.hawaiiwildlifecenter.org/seabird-fallout-response.html.