BirdLife Malta is appealing to the public to help rescue young Yelkouan Shearwater birds that could become lost due to artificial light.
The young birds which are understood to be a threatened species, are expected to leave their underground cliff nests during the period of mid-June and July, and venture out.
But, because their departure is carried out under the cover of darkness, they are liable to get lost on their return journey due to the high levels of light pollution emitting from towns and villages.
They state that the birds are startled by the light and can end up flying themselves to exhaustion and dehydration. Others will get lost and end up being killed by cats, dogs or hit by cars.
Through BirdLife Malta’s current LIFE Arċipelagu Garnija project, they are asking the public living in coastal villages to be on the look-out for the birds and to help rescue them.
How to identify a Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan, Garnija)
· Medium-sized seabird
· About 35cm long, with a wingspan of around 85cm
· Slender black beak, hooked at the peak
· Blackish upperparts
· White underparts
The NGO outlines the following advice for those who find stranded Yelkouan Shearwater:
Call BirdLife Malta on 2134 7645/6 (office hours)/7925 5697 (evenings and weekends) or the police on 119 in the first instance;
- Record the location you found the bird as accurately as possible;
- Approach the bird from behind. Pick up the bird using a clean cloth or towel, controlling the head and holding the wings against the body;
- Place the bird in a well-ventilated cardboard box. Keep the box in a cool dark place;
- If possible, provide fresh water for the bird in a deep container. When the box is stationary, leave the container with water with the bird so that it can drink as needed. Do not attempt to rehydrate the bird yourself; Do not attempt to feed the bird.
Birdlife Malta states that once recovered, the birds would be taken to a government vet and placed within a rehabilitation programme. When they are healthy, they would be released at locations close to the sea.