A Leach’s Storm-Petrel Patient Goes Back To The Sea

least's storm petrel collageThe following story was shared with us by Tri-State Bird Rescue in Delaware.

Although the Leach’s storm-petrel population is estimated at more than 8 million breeding pairs, this inconspicuous species lives mostly at sea and nests in crevices and burrows on islands in the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Non-breeders, many of which are immatures, remain at sea year-round, far from shore. These seabirds are small in size, with an approximate length of 7 inches and a wingspan of 17 inches. Much of their lives still remains a mystery.

We were somewhat surprised when we received one that was found in a parking lot — a highly unusual place for a storm petrel to be — and was transported to our clinic via several Tri-State volunteers.

The bird was thin and feathers were contaminated with fish oil/feces to the extent that the bird required a wash. Prior to the wash, the bird required a couple days of supportive care including hydration and gavage-feeding. The petrel was started on EmerAid Intensive Care Piscivore initially but quickly graduated to hand-fed krill and silversides. After the wash, the seabird needed a few days of swimming in our outdoor pool to perfect his waterproofing. Once his waterproofing was perfect, we arranged for release.

Many hands and a boat were involved in returning the Leach’s storm-petrel back to the wild where it belongs — the Atlantic Ocean. We are incredibly grateful to our volunteer release team, Delaware River and Bay Cooperative (DBRC), and Tom Bennett. Thank you! Release photos courtesy of Susan Bennett.