[WATCH] BirdLife Malta rescues two stranded seabirds

BirdLife Malta has indicated that light pollution is likely to cause fledging seabirds to become disorientated and stranded inland

It is likely the rescued seabirds became disorientated from the light pollution of urban areas
It is likely the rescued seabirds became disorientated from the light pollution of urban areas

BirdLife Malta has rescued two Yelkouan Shearwater fledglings in the last few days after they were found stranded in Għadira Bay and Buġibba.

According to the conservation group, young Yelkouan Shearwater chicks, known in Maltese as Garnija, begin to leave their cliff-side nests for the first time around June to mid-July.

BirdLife Malta explained that the birds fledge at night and use the light of the horizon to guide them away from the coast. For this this reason, the group said, it is likely the rescued seabirds became disorientated from the light pollution of urban areas, and became stranded inland on their first flight.

“This leads them to stranding in roads, seafronts, ports, towns, and other urbanised areas with strong lights, unable to fly back out to sea whilst putting their survival in danger,” BirdLife Malta said.

Malta is home to up to 10% of the global population of Yelkouan Shearwaters, equating to around 2,000 breeding pairs found in various sites across the Islands. Despite this, however, BirdLife Malta said that the species population is in decline, with one of the main threats being light pollution.

“Buġibba, Qawra, Mellieħa, Salina, and Ċirkewwa are the main sources of light pollution for the Yelkouan Shearwaters colonies of St Paul’s Island, Comino and Rdum tal-Madonna – Malta’s biggest colony.

Each year, many of these seabirds become stranded inland unable to fly back to sea, leaving them vulnerable to predation and passing vehicles.”

BirdLife Malta’s LIFE Arċipelagu Garnija project is working to reduce the impacts of light pollution close to the colonies to ensure this seabird’s long-term protection.

BirdLife Malta requested the support of the public, asking that stranded seabird chicks be reported to BirdLife Malta for to group to able to rescue and release them back into safe locations at night.

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