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Oiled birds return home

Oiled birds return home

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Oiled birds return home

Three birds, who were rescued by the GSPCA last month after getting stuck in oil along the coast, have been released back into the wild.

Gallileo, Guillbert and Guilly the guillemots were set free on the slipway near Rousse Tower, after weeks of care at the animal shelter.

"We strive to get each of the 2,000 plus wild animals we help each year back to the wild, but it is never easy when they are oiled as they are often so poorly," said GSPCA Manager, Steve Byrne.

"Sadly, when we see severe stormy weather, oil can be stirred up which is what we think has happened. With possible rough weather ahead we could see more."

guillemot oiled

Pictured: One of the birds on arrival at the GSPCA.

The birds were rung before they left the shelter, so the GSPCA can track their progress. Unfortunately, one of the three guillemots was spotted to be struggling after his release, but it is hoped he will take to the skies again very soon.

Animal Care Assistant, Beckie Bailey, has been caring for the birds and was pleased to release them back to their home.

"Many people don't realise that even a small amount of oil, no more than a penny-sized drop, can be deadly to birds," she explained. "Understanding how oil affects birds can raise awareness of just how hazardous any oil spill or similar pollution can be.

"The most obvious way oil affects birds is by coating their plumage in sticky, greasy slime. Birds' feathers are precisely aligned and designed to provide superb waterproofing and insulation. Oil in the feathers, however, will mat them and misalign the tiny barbers that keep the feathers properly positioned. Even a small misalignment can cause birds to lose critical body heat, therefore exposing them to temperatures and weather conditions that can be fatal.

guillemot oiled

Pictured: One of the birds following treatment at the GSPCA.

"Oiled birds also lose their natural buoyancy from air pockets created by proper feather alignment and they can sink and drown in polluted waters.

"In order to remove the oil from their feathers, oiled birds will begin to preen excessively, even desperately. As they preen they inadvertently ingest the toxic sludge which will then poison their kidneys, liver, lungs, intestines and other internal organs, causing slow and agonising death.

"If they do not die from the oil's toxicity, their excessive preening in a desperate attempt to realign their feathers and get clean again will cost them more energy than they can spare.

"Many oiled birds eventually succumb to exhaustion, dehydration or starvation."

If you find an oiled bird, you are asked to contact the GSPCA immediately on 257261 or, if possible, take the bird directly to the animal shelter.

Pictured top: The birds being released.

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