FAIRFIELD (KPIX 5) – It’s dinnertime at International Bird Rescue in Fairfield. The feather-friendly facility is packed with murres, birds that live their whole lives in the ocean and are rarely seen by humans.
“They don’t come to beach unless there’s a problem,” said Michelle Bellizzi of International Bird Rescue.
There are 45 malnourished murres here right now, all with one common ailment.
“Most of them just are nutritionally bankrupt. They’ve got nothing. No reserves left,” Bellizzi said.
While there are no hard facts about why the murres are getting sick, there is a working theory: the warmer water in the Pacific that is driving their prey further away.
“If the surface of the water is really warm, if the fish is deeper than the murres can dive, and they can dive two to three hundred feet. But if the fish are below that, they can’t access them,” Bellizzi said.
Some of the birds are so skinny they have to be force fed, and even once they get switched to whole fish, those fish need to be injected with air to make them float and easier to eat.
“The ones that aren’t too far gone are responding really, really well. They’re popping right back, as soon as they can get food, as soon as they can digest food,” Bellizi said. “They’re delighted to be eating all you can eat sushi.”
Bellizzi and the volunteers hope the murres will get out of the tanks and back to the wild.
It’s not just the murres. So far this year, International Bird Rescue has seen as many birds as it did in all of last year.