Sunday, June 14, 2009

Up Close with Nature


As usual, Robb and I were out cycling on the San Francisco Bay Trail today, and usual, I was asking the people with binoculars of they had seen any interesting birds. A nice older couple gave us the heads-up that some kind of alcid was bobbing around in the water. I follow the online discussions of birders in the East Bay, so I know that these birds had been seen in this area for the past week or so. The problem is that they seemed to be ill or stressed.

While Robb and I do spot the occasional murre, floating around in the surf, these birds typically spend their time out at sea, diving after fish, and "swimming" underwater using their wings as flippers. We are always surprised to see a murre.

This fellow was swimming right off the trail. I went down to the waters edge to shoot a few photos, and after a few minutes he swam right up to me, and started to "haul out" of the water. While is was delightful to be so close to a wild bird, I knew that I needed to give this bird his space, so I headed back to the path, where Robb was chatting with a gentleman who had also been a bird rehab volunteer after the big oil spill in the San Francisco Bay.

I'm going to alert the bird rehab folks about this wee penguin of a bird. It worries me that he's so close to humans.


Anonymous said...

The murre in the photos appears cold and week. I have been seeing similar murres by the Berkeley Marina. There were also a few fresh dead birds on the beaches. I collected one live. As I was waiting for a volunteer to come get the bird, I attempted to warm it up and gave it 40cc of 5% dextrose solution orally, over a 1.5 hour period. It's behavior declined and it died within two hours!

Most of the the birds I have seen live and dead are adults, that are emaciated. It seems to be a die off from not finding enough fish?

I have worked with IBRRC (bird rescue) for 17 years.

Anonymous said...

I saw one (maybe the same one) near Meeker Slough last night at about 7:00pm. I've never seen one in the bay before, only the ocean and was very surprised. He was paddling listlissly. Poor guy!

Anonymous said...

Here is a copy of an email from a biologist with the Common Murre Restoration Project from August 2008 when similar findings were occuring in the East Bay.

"Thanks for the report. It is not unusual for murres to beach in fairly high numbers in late summer and early fall. High beaching rates often occur just after chicks fledge from the breeding colonies. Adult murres (the
males) take their chicks to sea when the chick is still flightless, and finish raising the youngsters there. Some chicks get separated from the parents and starve. The adults undergo a flightless molt at this time and
become susceptible to various issues, and are often easier to approach since they can't fly away. Many of the birds that beach are chicks but many are often adults as well.

There have been large numbers of murres, cormorants and other seabirds feeding at the mouth of the Golden Gate all summer. Lots of murres have been taking their chicks into SF Bay over the last month. Not unusual except that the numbers seem a bit elevated inside the bay this year. That's why it seems unusual to see so many of these sickly-like murres off Richmond and Berkeley.

Best thing to do is leave the birds alone and ask others to do the same. If birds are beached, alive, and you want to investigate rescue, I'd suggest contacting International Bird Rescue Research Center in Cordelia"



Gerry McChesney
Wildlife Biologist, Common Murre Restoration Project and
Acting Manager, Farallon National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex
9500 Thornton Ave.
Newark, CA 94560
Phone: 510-792-0717, ext. 222; cell: 510-918-9875
Fax: 510-792-5828

Anonymous said...

I'm still on the house hunting idea from your previous blog- you may find by asking around someone with prime birdwatching area that is looking to sell their place, yet if it is small, it may be generally considered "undesirable" to other buyers just because it doesnt have like 500 rooms!

You could make one of the rooms into a bird rehab room, and get a tax write off, perhaps.

Even if Robb isnt in condition to build or fix something NOW, he can always design what needs to be built or fixed- trust me, there are a lot of builder-type people out there with no clue about design, and I have met many of them.

By the way, our CAT is now a MAMA and has had 3 BEAUTIFUL kittens that are real squeakers! We are totally blissed out, and looking forward to the many, many piles of dead mice in our barn. My idea of domestic bliss may not match out with other people, but right now, dead mice are a big turn on!

No matter how I phrase it, that just sounds weird.

Good luck to you guys and your tiny birdy.

Annalisa (Cat Grandma)


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