With a high likelihood of thunderstorms in Southern Arizona this weekend, the Tucson Wildlife Center is preparing to take in any seabirds that are blown in on gusty winds from the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of California.
In late July, a red-billed tropicbird was blown into Tucson during a storm and discovered in the backyard of an east-side home, according to a news release from the Tucson Wildlife Center.
The man who found the bird called the wildlife center and the bird was brought to the center’s wildlife hospital for evaluation. After several days recuperating, the tropicbird was driven to a rehabilitation center on the California coast that specializes in seabirds before being released back into the wild earlier this week, the release said.
Red-billed tropicbirds weigh about 1.5 pounds, have webbed feet and a mostly white body with black wing tips and some black on the upper body. They spend most of their lives at sea, coming on land only to breed.
On Wednesday, a local law enforcement agency called the wildlife center to report that someone had dropped off a severely injured brown pelican that blew in during the storms, but the bird died before reaching the wildlife center, the release said.
“Seabirds are not able to survive in the desert,” said Tucson Wildlife Center Animal Care Supervisor, Lou Rae Whitehead. “If people find them, they need to contact us immediately and not try to care for the birds themselves. Pelicans and tropicbirds need special fish to survive and tropicbirds cannot take off from the ground.”
Anyone who finds a bird they believe is a seabird should call the wildlife center’s 24-hour helpline at 290-9453.