BirdLife Malta ap­peals to the public to help stranded seabird fledg­ings

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

BirdLife Malta is ask­ing the public to re­port any sight­ings or find­ings of Scopoli’s Shear­wa­ter (Ċiefa) which may have be­come stranded dur­ing their first flight, so they can be safely re­leased back at sea.

At this the time of year, BirdLife ex­plained yes­ter­day, these se­cre­tive seabirds be­gin to fledge from the nests for the first time from within the cliffs. Fledg­ing at night, these young birds use the light of the hori­zon to guide them away from the coast.

How­ever the in­creas­ing threat of on-land light pol­lu­tion can dis­ori­en­tate the birds caus­ing them to be­come stranded in­land, ap­pear­ing in roads, seafronts, towns and other ur­banised ar­eas, and un­able to fly back out to sea whilst putting their sur­vival in danger. The ar­eas where they are usu­ally found are Ħal Far, Xlendi, Ċirkewwa, Birżeb­buġa, Ġne­jna Bay, Marsal­forn, and St. Paul’s Bay.

The Scopoli’s Shear­wa­ter, the larger of the two shear­wa­ter species, has an es­ti­mated pop­u­la­tion of 4,500 pairs in Malta – ap­prox­i­mately 5% of the world breed­ing pop­u­la­tion.

This pro­tected species of seabird, which can be recog­nised by its grey-brown back with white un­der­belly and yel­low bill, can of­ten be seen ‘shear­ing’ over the tops of waves.

The Scopoli’s Shear­wa­ter had been a fo­cus of BirdLife Malta’s EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project which came to a suc­cess­ful close this year af­ter se­cur­ing Malta’s first eight marine Spe­cial Pro­tec­tion Ar­eas (SPAs) and is set to also ben­e­fit from the con­ser­va­tion ac­tions car­ried out in the cur­rent EU LIFE Arcipelagu Garnija Project.

In the event of find­ing a stranded chick, BirdLife Malta urges the public to place it gen­tly into a card­board box and keep it in a quiet place, then call us im­me­di­ately on 2134 7644 (of­fice hours) or 7925 5697 (emer­gency out of of­fice).

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