Seaside Seabird Sanctuary holds first bird release of 2022

Pinellas County

INDIAN SHORES, Fla. (WFLA) — The Seaside Seabird Sanctuary held its first release of the new year Wednesday afternoon. Many of the birds they let back into the wild were impacted by the overwhelming season of red tide last year.

The sanctuary released 88 birds back into their natural habitat. “One bird came out and it didn’t fly away. It stayed there. And then when the next volunteer brought another bird, then the two of them flew away together, so that was kind of like he was waiting for his friend,” said Mary Francis Grammel.

“It’s like a nice little freedom train,” said Christina Chilbert from the sanctuary.

She told 8 On Your Side some of the birds have been in their care for several months.

“We’ve seen them come in for Red tide, fishing line injuries, other wing injuries as well, so to watch them be able to be released back into the wild is super special to us.”

We stopped by the sanctuary back in July when they received an overwhelming number of sick birds infected by Red tide.

“They eat the fish that have the toxins in them and it kind of gets them disoriented,” Chilbert said. “Definitely dehydrates them, they don’t want to eat. They barely want to stand up at times as well, so when they come to us we provide them with fluids to flush their systems out with toxins.”

Chilbert said she’s seen a decrease in the number of birds with toxicity issues.

“It’s always going to be there because it’s a naturally occurring algae. But as far as the influx of birds that we’ve seen come in, I think we’re back to the season with the tourists here with the fishing line injuries.”

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