Sick birds this time of year could mean undetected algal blooms
At the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, or C.R.O.W., on Sanibel, some birds were reacquainted with the outdoors in a wired enclosure last week.
Veterinarian Julia Hill was checking up on them.
“We have pelicans and cormorants out here right now," said Hill. "It has an in-ground pool with filtered water that we can give them as they recover and it lets them start to fly again and socialize prior to releasing.”
These are birds that naturally don’t often make a lot of noise. However, these silent birds act as an alarm, signaling that something isn’t right in the environment.
Last month, the rehab center got an influx of sick pelicans and cormorants.
“They couldn’t move around very well," Hill said. "They looked like they were drunk.”
The birds had gastrointestinal problems, trouble breathing. Some were coughing up blood.
Hill said those are symptoms of exposure to red tide. But when these birds started coming in back in October, there were no indications of red tide from satellites or from instruments used to detect it.