Lending nature a hand; Rescued water birds return to their habitat

In late July, San Jose’s Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley completed its annual effort to rescue young, injured great egrets, snowy egrets, and black-crowned night herons from rookeries at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas and Google’s headquarters in Mountain View. The effort will help increase the number of juvenile water birds progressing to adulthood, thus growing their populations in the South Bay.

The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, a Milpitas-based nonprofit that studies bird populations in the Bay Area, is actively monitoring the number of adults, nests, and young for the three species at the two rookeries through its Colonial Waterbird Program. The observatory has been able to monitor the count of the Google site in a continuous manner, however, monitoring the count at Elmwood has been interrupted by changes in the correctional facility’s staff and programs. The observatory collected data from a complete breeding season at Elmwood in 2016, a partial season in 2017, no data in 2018, but it will resume in 2019.

Every March and late July since 2013, the wildlife center has received about 50 nestlings or fledglings suffering from broken bones, dehydration or internal parasites.

“These birds breed in big colonies in the trees. Amidst all the activity, chicks can sometimes get pushed out when tussling with siblings or fall out when it’s hot, which makes them restless,” said Guthrum Purdin, a wildlife veterinarian for the center. “Injuries and broken bones are really common when they fall, especially when they fall on concrete or asphalt. It’s even worse if there’s no underbrush to hide in, making them easy targets for predators,”

Ashley Kinney, wildlife hospital manager at the center, raises young birds in groups with up to eight members of their own species.

“While they are housed inside, they are kept in wooden duck boxes that contain branches, water dishes, and food. When they move to our flight enclosures they have access to large kiddie pools and a big area to fly,” explained Kinney. “They stay in the large flight enclosures until they are fully capable of foraging for food on their own and have built up needed flight muscle.”

The center spends about $8,000 a nesting season and many volunteer hours to rehabilitate the herons and egrets. The center releases birds old enough to survive on their own between two and eight at a time in natural environments in Alviso and in the Charleston Slough in Mountain View.

Yiwei Wang, executive

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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