What to do if you find a downed seabird

We all want to help Kaua’i’s endangered seabirds, but what is the best way to do so? Sometimes well-meaning people find shearwater chicks near burrows in coastal breeding colonies and pick them up thinking they need to be rescued. But these birds actually nest in holes in the ground, so in those situations they need to be left alone.

However every year between late September and mid December, shearwater fledglings leave their burrows and get attracted to artificial lights, where they end up grounded and vulnerable to cats, dogs and cars. These birds do need rescuing!

This page gives you everything you need to know if you come across a grounded seabird.

If you have any questions, please visit the Save Our Shearwaters website https://saveourshearwaters.org/ or call their Hot Line (808) 635-7453.

And please make as many notes and observations about the location as possible! It helps us to identify areas that are fallout hot spots, and help with future mitigation!

Hawaiian Petrel Chick in burrow

Where are you? Are you in a coastal location or urban?

If it is coastal, can you see a burrow nearby? Or, is the chick small and fluffy? If so, then it’s happy in it’s own burrow! Young birds also exercise their wings before beginning their journey out to sea, so if a bird is walking or flapping near a burrow, it is probably just practicing.

If it is urban, what structure is it near? A strong light? A business? A road?

Are there any threats nearby? Cats? Cars?

If the bird is not near a burrow… Is it safe?

Often artificial lights can confuse young birds, they may land in areas with various threats.

If the bird is not near a burrow, but there are threats, make sure it is safe to go near the bird, be careful around cars! Grab a clean towel and use it to gently pick up the bird by placing it over its back, wings, and head. It’s easiest to pick it up from behind, and be careful of their beaks – it may hurt if they bite!

Place the bird in a ventilated cardboard box. Do NOT give it food or water! Keep it in a cool, dark and quiet place – don’t let the bird overheat!

Bring it to the Kauai’i Human Society (Save our Shearwaters is located there) or to a Save Our Shearwaters Station!

Save Our Shearwaters Aid stations located around the island

Stations are listed below:

North
Hanalei Liquor Store
Hanalei Fire Station (near Princeville shopping center)
Kilauea Medical Center

Central-East
Lihu’e Fire Station
Kapa’a Fire Station
Kaiakea Fire Station
Kauai Humane Society

West
Waimea Fire Station
Hanapepe Fire Station
Kalaheo Fire Station

South
Koloa Fire Station

Mahalo for helping our native seabirds! For more information, please check out the videos below!