Wildlife experts investigating birds washing up on shore

Birds washing up on shore have local wildlife experts worried. Pictures show most of them seem to be sick and dying.


A bird expert told Action News Jax Annette Gutierrez the birds are called Shearwater Birds and are known to migrate here. So, while it’s normal to see them here, experts say it’s not normal to see them in this condition.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

Some locals say they are also concerned.

“I don’t know what we can do about or what’s causing it, but it’s definitely sad to see,” Neptune beach resident Justin Butters said.

Butters was visiting Hannah Park on Thursday afternoon when he said he saw two shearwater birds struggling to move.

And he’s not the only one who has come across the birds along our shores. Mary Foulks is a volunteer with Ark Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation.

She says they began receiving calls Tuesday, but just today, they’ve received over 200 calls about sick or dead birds, and all of them are about Shearwaters.

“We’ve had to stop taking them in because we got so overwhelmed,” Foulks said.

Foulks says the birds are being found as far north as Amelia Island in Nassau County, down to St Johns County and Volusia County.

“Some people were telling us that they can’t walk, they can’t fly,” Foulks said.

READ: Suspected fish kill near Julington Creek attracts vultures, neighbors say they are suffering

Gutierrez said she saw also saw some birds washed up along the shore very exhausted, and depleted.

Beachgoers are saying it’s a really sad site to see here.

St Johns County Resident Mia Klenina went to Hanna Park with her mom and she said she was sad, because, “they might be dying.”

Foulks says Shearwaters typically come to this area around this time,  migrating from as far away as South America and South Africa, up the Eastern Seaboard to Canada.

“It’s the food and the breeding grounds,” Foulks said. “It’s just their natural migratory path that they’ve followed. It’s about a 6000 mile trek.”

Florida Fish and Wildlife are conducting necropsies to determine what is happening to the birds.

“The biologist gave us a preliminary report of what she was thinking was that it was related to their migration exhaustion and then hitting these easterly winds and the weather and the rough surf,” Foulks said.

The Action News Jax First Alert Weather Team has been tracking a disturbance in the Atlantic that appears to be heading towards Northeast Florida.

Foulks said this same thing happened and back then the tests on the birds came back with no clear results.

Foulkes says these birds do not pose a threat to the public. But if you do see one, she says you should just leave them alone, and call FWC.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.

Comments on this article