National Geographic – BLOWN AWAY

BLOWN AWAY

Like humans, many birds try to get away when they sense an approaching storm. As Hurricane Harvey approached the Texas Gulf Coast, radar picked up the mass exodus of many of the region’s shorebirds ahead of the storm. (Read why this hurricane season has been so catastrophic.)

Birds at sea may simply try to fly around the storm. The size of some of these hurricanes – Irma was more than 400 miles wide at its peak – can make it difficult for birds to escape them. In that case, birds caught in the storm can be blown hundreds of miles off course.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF WILD CARE, INC

That’s what happened to a bird that washed up on the shores of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. When Stephanie Ellis, executive director at Wild Care, Inc, met a concerned citizen who had found the bird in LeCount Hollow, she initially thought they had rescued a northern gannet (Morus bassanus). A quick phone call to a local bird expert, however, revealed that the bird was actually a masked booby (Sula dactylatra).

“We were just awestruck to see a masked booby staring at us. This bird must have gone for quite a ride,” she says.

Ellis believes that the booby was caught in the winds of Hurricane Jose and blown hundreds of miles away from its likely home in the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, the bird ultimately didn’t survive the journey—it arrived waterlogged, starving, and suffering from a severe fungal infection. Despite efforts to save it, Wild Care announced, the booby died overnight Monday. “We certainly tried our best,” Ellis said on the group’s Facebook page. “His condition was grim from the beginning.”

 

To read the full article,  visit:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/10/hurricane-irma-harvey-maria-bird-impacts-caribbean/

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