Thursday, January 21, 2010

Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary

The second half of yesterday's adventure took us to Indian Shores, Fl to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. It is the largest non-profit wild bird hospital in the U.S. They take in 20-40 birds per day. Like the other place, their hope is to rehab the birds so that they can be released back into the wild. They have been at the same location for 38 years now and it's comical to see all the condos and hotels that have built up around them and here they are with their pens and low structures amongst "civilization". There are all types of birds there but my favorite was the pelicans and there are alot of them. We were there at an opportune time as it is nesting time and there were two nests where the baby pelicans have hatched out and we were able to see them.If you look real close at this picture, you can see the little heads in the nest under the mommy pelican. How neat ! The birds that we were able to see (like these parent pelicans) are ones that will never be released back to the wild because they have a physical problem that would hamper their being able to survive if they went back into the wild. Some are blind and some have a injured wing or leg. These birds become permanent residents. The recuperation release rate is 85%; sadly 90% of the injuries these birds sustain are directly related to humans.

This facility is open 365 days a year and the hospital is open, on average, 12 hours a day to tend to birds that are brought into the facility. The facility is supported 100% by private donations. They receive no government funding whatsoever so contributions from private citizens are critical to sustain them. They do an amazing job helping these wild birds to recuperate and go back into the wild. As we walked onto the sand dunes out back of the facility, some of the former residents were "hanging around". We could tell because they had bands on their legs. All birds, that have been admitted to the sanctuary, are banded to track their illnesses and overall health. That is except for one type....our tour guide told us that the turkey vulture can't be banded because they poop on their legs to "stay cool". If they were banded, bacteria would develop from the build-up and risk the health of the birds....Good info to know, doncha think ?
It takes 600 pounds of fish to feed all the birds on a daily costs 1.2 million a year to save the birds. Holy mackerel !

It's a great place to visit so if you get to the Clearwater area, be sure to look them up. Tours are only given twice a week but well worth it to learn lots of neat info you wouldn't ordinarily hear about.

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