Crucial weekend in the annual help the pardela campaign – what to do if you find a fallen “wacka wacka bird”

Updated 31 October: The Tenerife Cabildo’s Wildlife Centre says that the next few nights are those in which the Cory’s Shearwaters are at greatest risk in the night from being dazzled, and therefore these are the nights that the authorities most ask the public just to switch off any lights that might distract the birds. In particular, the public is asked to switch off whatever outside lights they can. So far, this year, some 500 birds have been rescued and it’s from tomorrow through the weekend that the birds are expected to be flying most actively during the night. There are details below on what to do if you find one on the ground because they can’t take off once they land, they can only launch themselves from heights.

Original post 2 October: 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 El Centro de Fauna Silvestre del Área de Medio Natural prevé que la mayor actividad nocturna de estas aves será los días 1, 2 y 3 de noviembre, por lo que solicita a la población apagar las luces exterioresare 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 Tenerife Cabildo’s wildlife rescue centre, La Tahonilla, based in La Laguna, to be checked over for injuries and released in a safe way to continue their winter’s journey north (see the video below).

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, even emergency services on 112 – as the poster shows (click to see full size).

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11 Comments

  1. hi are normal seagulls protected

  2. Author

    not that I’m aware of.

  3. Dear Janet
    Could I please ask you if it is illegal to catch wild parrots and cage them or sell them, the reason I ask this is I feed our local Los Gigantes Conures or some call them Parakeets on my balcony and have done so for over 10 years, you may have seen some posts on Facebook I love Los Gigantes they even have names .
    Every year August, September they have two chicks and as soon as they learn to fly and feed for themselves someone takes them ,,,I know there are preditors Eagles and Kestrels around but I cannot believe they can take the two babies at the same time for the last 5 years.
    We used to have 7 reduced to 5 and now 3 I know also they pair up and fly away to start families of there own but not when they are only out of the nest by weeks.
    I sent e mail to Loro Parque and the Police but never got a reply.
    Regards David Morgan

  4. Author

    yes it is illegal. The relevant police are the Seprona Unit of the Guardia Civil – call 062 (see HERE).

  5. Hi Janet, I wonder if you could help me I found a baby naked and blind blackbird four months ago ,and now she’s all grown up but unfortunately she has been imprinted on humans as her friends so has no fear of humans dogs or cats, do you know of anywhere that could take her in in as even though I let her out two hours a day I have to keep her in a cage for her own protection if you could help I would be so grateful thanks William

  6. Author

    Hi William, other than asking in Tenerife-related Facebook groups to find other bird lovers, the best starting point I think would be La Tahonilla, the Cabildo’s own “Centro de recuperación de fauna silvestre” (wildlife recovery centre). They’re in La Laguna, and their phone numbers are 922 445 777, 922 445 776, 922 445 778, and 696 463 760.

  7. Hi Janet,
    That’s a great piece on the Cory’s Shearwaters.
    We’ve enjoyed seeing and mostly hearing their ‘Punch & Judy’ calls off our balcony of an evening in winter for years and we’ve often shown them off to guests and visitors, though there seemed to be many less last year. Do you know if they are in decline? It would please me greatly if I could support some charity or organisation that was working for their continued existence.
    Kind regards Tony.

  8. Author

    They are classified as “vulnerable” rather than “endangered”, and they are protected by law. The overall umbrella of protection is run by Seprona, a Guardia Civil unit, but all rescued birds (and other species too) get taken to the Cabildo-run wildlife recovery centre “La Tahonilla” in La Laguna. There, they are treated and recuperated, and then freed wherever possible. Although Cabildo-established and overseen, it’s run by volunteers so that’s where I would have thought the support might be most welcomed. They also do guided tours of their centre … their details are HERE.

  9. Janet thanks for valuable information about Pardela chicks. On holiday at the moment and found a chick trying to hide in between a neighbours inner wooden door and the outer metal one. Mentioned to reception who have called coast guard who is on his way. This was before I read your article but hopefully chick will be ok.

  10. Hi Janet, thank you for this information, it has been so helpful. We are staying in Alcala for a week and arrived to find an injured bird, what looked like a gull of some kind, on our terrace. Looked like it had hit the window as it had left an incredible imprint of itself in full flight. She (we named her Doris!) was obviously injured, looked like a broken wing. We were able to put a towel over her and pick her up (definitely helps to cover her head otherwise she will try and peck you!) and then quite easily place her in a box. The local vet was very helpful, provided us with the box and was very appreciative that we had rescued her and brought her in. She explained via google translate that Doris would be cared for in the specialist centre and released back to the wild as near as possible to Alcala once she has recovered. Thank you for your advice. It’s really good to know what to do when faced with a defenceless scared and injured bird.

  11. Hi Janet,
    we also had an experience with this bird. A scary one, I might add.
    The bird was in a neighbours yard, managed to raise the (electric) blind, which she left 5 inches off the ground.The bird actually lifted the blind with its beack,(!!!)which came crashing down once it let go.
    It insisted coming inside, pecking furiously at the glass.
    When she opened the door in order to chase it, it managed to come in , charging her !!!!!!!!
    Once she got it out, it flew over a six foot hedge , to our yard and charged at us, trying to get inside!!
    A very scary experience, that bird has a powerful beak and able to do damage.
    A man from the ASPCA came eventually, and was able to catch it, only because it became entangled in a basket.
    He was scared as well, saying mucho agresivo!!!!!!!!
    So, beware.

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