Unusually warm ocean temps may be behind influx of starving birds

Aug 25, 2015

UPDATE: Aug. 26, 2015 at 4:00 p.m.

Pacific Wildlife Care in Morro Bay said Wednesday that 10 new birds have come into the facility since announcing the problem on Tuesday.

ORIGINAL:

A native bird to the Central Coast is showing up in unusually large numbers at the only wildlife rehabilitation center in San Luis Obispo County.

The birds are starving.

Common Murres at Pacific Wildlife Care Facility
Credit Pacific Wildlife Care

Pacific Wildlife Care in Morro Bay said it has received 37 common murres in the past week and 134 of the birds since the start of the year.

Marie Travers is a wildlife rehabilitator with Bird Ally X, an organization helping out at the center during this influx of sick birds.

She said it appears the murres are having a hard time getting to food.

"Why that's happening is sort of unknown. No one can really know that," said Travers. "People have speculated that perhaps it's because the warmer ocean is driving the food deeper into the ocean and it's harder for the birds to get at."

Pacific Wildlife Care said other explanations for the starving birds could include oil pollution, over fishing and agricultural runoff.

Murres live much of their lives over open water, only coming to shore to nest, so they're rarely seen by humans on land.