MAKAPUU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Watch out for injured or disoriented native seabirds, especially in Windward Oahu. Wildlife experts are asking for help rescuing native Wedge-tailed shearwaters. The nocturnal birds were rescued in record numbers last year.
This is the busiest time of year for Sea Life Park's Seabird Rehabilitation Facility. People drop off injured and disoriented Wedge-tailed shearwaters 24 hours a day.
"They're young. They've been distracted by lights and flown inland instead of going out to sea like they're supposed to," explained Sea Life Park worker Sandra Bingham. "Other than that, we usually see some broken wings if they've flown into a building or power lines, things like that."
Nearly 600 fledglings have been treated in the last three weeks.
"A little above average. We usually get in around 250 to 500 birds per year. Last year was a big year for us. We got in nearly 1,000," Bingham said.
Experts aren't sure exactly what caused the spike in rescues in 2010. A few birds that suffered serious injuries now have a new home in the Seabird Sanctuary. With a new predator-proof fence around nests at Kaena Point this year, biologists recorded the highest number of Wedge-tailed shearwater chicks since the annual survey began in 1994. There are also other positive signs.
"The interesting thing this year is that the scientists are reporting that they're higher in body weight than normal, which is very good, which may be indicative of the feeding grounds or maybe just a situation of the good weather we've had recently," said Sea Life Park curator Jeff Pawloski.
Authorities still want people to turn off unnecessary lights and look out for fallen seabirds through the end of the year.
"Then of course feral animals or even people turning animals loose on the beaches can, especially in the case of the shearwaters, disrupt their habitats," said Pawloski.
"There's nothing better than having a bird come in that you don't think is gonna make it and seeing it fly off again," said Bingham.
The Wedge-tailed shearwaters are different from the Newell's shearwaters which have been running into trouble on Kauai.