BAMZ Advises Of Potential Longtail Strandings

August 8, 2013

The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo [BAMZ] today advised that Longtail chicks may be found stranded during the months of August and September.

During the summer boating season more people get out on the water and come across longtails they believe are in trouble. As a result, BAMZ often receives chicks from members of the public that have been found abandoned, floating on the water or stranded somewhere on land. So far this year they have received six longtails – three adults and three chicks.

Dr. Ian Walker, Patrick Talbot and summer student Kamille Minors:

longtail photo

Longtail chicks fledge during the summer months. Fledging is the term used to describe the process by which a chick loses it down feathers and grows flight feathers. This process can take 8-10 weeks from hatching to becoming fully fledged.

Chicks differ in appearance from adults. Longtail chicks are white with dappled grey markings, have flesh-coloured bills, grey feet and a short tail whereas the adults are white with black stripes over the shoulder and through the eye, black feet and wing tips, a yellow/orange bill and a long tail.

Longtail parents feed the chicks until they are ‘super-sized’. At up to 600 grams, chicks are much heavier than the parents who average between 350-400 grams.

When the chicks are ready to leave the nest they stop eating, which is a signal to the parents to stop feeding. Hatching and fledging in a hole in a cliff restricts the young bird’s ability to exercise its wings and take practice flights as woodland birds or those that nest in the open might do. Therefore, a Longtail chick’s first flight presents an almost ‘do or die’ scenario for the chick. It is at this point the public sometimes bring in chicks because they think they have been abandoned. However, the chick is actually slowly losing weight and building up courage to fly. This process can take over a week, hence the seeming abandonment. Nevertheless, the BAMZ would still encourage the public to bring in a bird they believe is abandoned so that technical staff can assess the animal.

If a longtail (adult or chick) is found injured or compromised in some way, the public is invited to contact the BAMZ at 293-2727.

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Category: All, Environment

Comments (2)

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  1. Kathy says:

    We found a chick a few years ago off of West Whale Bay in the water and getting slammed around by waves about 500 metres off shore. He was too fat to take off from the water.

    I would encourage everyone to use the BAMZ service if you see a fledgling in difficulty!

  2. RJ says:

    An excellent person to contact is wildlife rehabilitator Lynn Thorne who has an uncanny ability and experience specialising in birds 799-8888