Annual help the pardela campaign – what to do if you find a fallen “wacka wacka bird”

Annual help the pardela campaign – what to do if you find a fallen “wacka wacka bird”

We are most familiar with the Cory’s Shearwaters – the “wacka wacka birds” (see HERE) – in Spring, when their distinctive call is heard as they return south from their winter migration. It’s this time of the year, however, when this endangered species, called the Pardela here in the Canaries, is most at risk, and none are more in peril than the chicks making their first flights and becoming disoriented and, at night, being dazzled by the lights of buildings on the coast.

14681727_10208636243276659_124268125042803015_nEach year there is a campaign to help them, with environmentalists, police, and bomberos often making difficult rescues of birds who quite regularly get stuck in the wire netting used along roads and cliffs to prevent rockfall while trying to take shelter. Some are found more mundanely in balconies and terraces of apartments, or public gardens or walkways, always near the coast, and once they reach the ground they find it difficult to regain the air because being cliff nesting birds they need to launch themselves into flight from elevated points. Moreover, apart from being unable to fly off when they land on the ground, they also then run the extra risk posed by predators.

And so the public is once again requested to keep an eye out for the birds, and if anyone sees one, try to catch it by covering it with a light towel and put it in a cardboard box which has some air holes made in it. Then call the local police or take the bird to the nearest local police station – the local police themselves have made this request so it won’t be taken amiss. The police will then ensure that the birds are handed over to the relevant authorities to be checked over for injuries and released in a safe way to continue their winter’s journey north.

Apart from the Local Police, the public can call the Guardia Civil on 062 and ask to be put through to Seprona, or the bomberos, who are the ones most frequently involved in rescuing the birds from roadside netting, or one of the phone numbers on the poster opposite, even emergency services on 112 – as the poster shows (click to see full size).

There are also volunteer groups, and they are always in need of more people at this time of year. There is information on the poster below about how you might be able to help by becoming a trained helper.




  1. Anyone we can phone there’s one on terrace now 6pm police can’t pick it up

  2. Author

    if your local police can’t attend, and you can’t get the bird to them, you could try the Guardia Civil’s Seprona unit on 062.

  3. I work in a pool bar of a hotel/private complex.we had one of these birds walk in in the afternoon a couple of days ago and rest under a table.hsd no problem picking it up and putting in a box to take to reception.They took over from then.Always hear these birds at night but never seen one till then and it is a beautiful animal and I truly believe that everyone should do what they can to help if they come across this bird and it’s in distress.

  4. Author

    I think people are often surprised at how large they are. I’ve seen one in a coastal complex plodding along the walkway – they are easier to catch, as you say, than one would think because they will either be injured or disoriented. The one I saw was getting on for middling seagull size … and they can be knee-high sized birds!

  5. I was relaxing on the small beach at Fonsalia earlier and was lucky enough to see dozens of birds being released back into the wild by 2 men from a conservation van. I have only ever seen such things on tv before so it was a real treat!

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