Fleshfooted shearwater

Flesh foot shearwater swimming This shearwater was x-rayed and didn't have any broken bones or foreign material so it was decided to rest him up, put jandals on to protect his feet, feed him up and then release him. With seabirds like this, we have to use gloves when handling and feeding seabirds to protect the feathers from oil off our hands. We prefer to tube feed fish slurry over hand feeding fish as this can also protect the feathers from fish and its oil.

Once we were satisfied that this fellow had the strength and reserves to be released we moved him to the next phase of rehabilitation. We tested his waterproofing by allowing him to swim in our large pools that have spray jets for water movement and excellent surface drainage. He lasted only a few minutes before it was plain to see that he was getting wet all over his body and down to the skin. He should float like a boat and always look dry. We had two options to get him release ready:

  1. Flesh foot shearwater house We allow him multiple opportunities to swim and preen during the day and hope he restores his waterproofing himself; or
  2. Wash him

Option two is a lot quicker and reduces the time it takes for self-waterproofing, so he was washed and rested. The following day he was popped in the pool. After a six-hour swim/float test he was found to be 100% waterproof! The next day he was released off a boat about 5km offshore.

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