Seaside Seabird Sanctuary suckling 100 sick birds from the red tide

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The red tide continues to ravage beaches in Pinellas County and, although it irritates humans and kills fish, birds are also affected.

“We have these flowers so close to each other. We are not giving our fish populations enough time to recover and this will affect all the wildlife that depend on this food source, ”said Melissa Edwards, Director of the Avian Hospital,

Many of these birds eat the contaminated dead fish, which also makes them sick, and Seaside Seabird Sanctuary steps in to save the day.

“Those affected will call our rescue line and we will send our rescue volunteers to pick up injured birds or people will bring them directly here to the hospital,” Edwards said.

She said it’s easy to spot an infected bird.

“It can almost cause some kind of paralysis, so they can’t walk. Unable to stand up. Sometimes the first symptoms you see are kind of planted on the face and look almost drunk, stumbling. Then it might stop them from swallowing or blinking, ”Edwards said.

Birds are given fluids combined with drugs to flush out toxins. It usually takes them seven days to get better. Staff are stretched out due to the influx of sick birds, but it’s not as bad as the impact of the 2018 red tide.

“We had about 60 red knots in a weekend because of the red tide, which caused a lot of stress at our hospital,” said Edwards. “In November, we had 200 (birds) in not even a month, so we haven’t hit those numbers yet.”

Edwards says that while they have recovering birds ready to be released, they are waiting for conditions on the beach to improve before they do so.

The Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is collecting donations to make sure they have all the supplies and tools they need. If you would like to donate, you can access this information on their website Seaside seabird sanctuaryy.


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