After several weeks of rehabilitation at SeaWorld San Diego, two tiny, but incredibly unique birds—a California least tern and a western snowy plover—were recently returned to their natural habitat for a second chance at life at a protected stretch of beach at Naval Base Coronado. Both birds were outfitted with ID bands so that SeaWorld’s wildlife biologists can continue to monitor their progress.
While these two birds are small in size, their importance to the local ecosystem is huge. Both species are indicators of the health of our coastal beaches and ocean environments. It is imperative that SeaWorld and other rescue organizations work to protect these birds and their nesting sites. The return of these two birds illustrates the phenomenal collaboration between SeaWorld San Diego, the Naval Base Coronado, and San Diego Zoo Global, who partner to collect, rehabilitate, and release a handful of these threatened and endangered birds every nesting season.
SeaWorld parks have rescued more than 37,000 animals over the last 55 years.
The California least tern, an endangered species, was found at Silver Strand State Beach campground. Separated from its parents and weighing just one ounce, the chick would not have survived on its own. Without parents to learn from, this little bird needed a safe place to mature and hone its flying and foraging skills. SeaWorld’s team fed and raised the bird and provided a safe environment at its Bird Rescue Center.
The western snowy plover, a threatened species, was found unable to stand and in critical condition at the South Bay Salt Works. At the time of rescue, it weighed the equivalent of a teaspoon of water. The chick received four weeks of expert rehabilitative care at SeaWorld’s Bird Rescue Center, where the team administered hourly tube feedings for the first three days. The bird responded to treatment, quickly grew in strength and size, and in no time started to test its wings.
The SeaWorld Rescue teams in San Diego, San Antonio, and Orlando have continually been rescuing animals during these uncertain times.
All photos featured courtesy SeaWorld San Diego.