Nemo’s Refugees Head Out

Nemo’s Refugees Head Out
by Scott Lajoie

It’s been a busy few weeks for the Eastham wildlife rehabilitation center. More than 25 birds were checked into the facility in the week between the two large storms alone, including murres, gannetts, mergansers, and puffins.

Severe storms do not allow birds to feed, so many of them came in severely underweight and dehydrated. Birds can die from the resulting starvation or when parasites take over due to severe anemia.

Five puffins, unique orange-billed birds (one pictured above) that winter far off the coast of Cape Cod before heading to the Gulf of Maine to breed in the summer, were blown in. Patient #63 made landfall in Eastham on Feb. 10, was treated and released four days later when the Coast Guard took him out on their boat. Patient #81 came in on Feb. 13 on a Sandwich beach and was released March 10 off of Herring Cove in Provincetown. He had been scheduled to also be taken out on a CG boat a few days prior, but bad weather postponed his release. He was tagged by Project Puffin, which affixes a field readable band so that he can be identified in the future. The other three did not survive, according to Stephanie Ellis of WildCare.

Other birds treated at the facility include a Common Murre, a Thick-billed Murre, three Northern Gannetts (one was unfortunately put down due to frost bite), and many red-breasted mergansers. One razorbill is left. Dubbed the miracle bird, he came in so starved he had to be fed a liquid diet for more than a week and a half. Ellis says she is aiming for his release at the end of this week.

If you find an animal in
distress, please call us at:


Our helpline and our facility
are open EVERY DAY from
9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
We are located at the
Orleans rotary (on the Eastham side).

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Wild Care has a state-of-the-art seabird therapy pool, which allows seabirds and waterfowl to exercise on running water. This will help our bird friends recover more quickly so they can get back to their watery habitats!