Migrant Masked Booby successfully released

Cayman Wildlife Rescue volunteers successfully released a young adult male Masked Booby that was rescued after he was blown ashore by Hurricane Wilma.

According to a press release from the CWR, the booby was found by concerned South Sound resident Melinda Richardson on the beach near her home on Friday 21 October. When the bird did not move upon being approached it was evident that all was not well, and Ms Richardson contacted Cayman Wildlife Rescue.

Upon arriving at the scene, CWR volunteer, Teresa Strad assessed the bird’s condition, and after a visit to the vet it was determined that in the absence of any physical injury the bird was suffering from exhaustion and hunger. He is believed to have been blown off his migratory course by the strong winds of Hurricane Wilma, as Masked Boobys are seabirds who only venture onto land to breed.

Like most of Cayman’s visitors, Mr. Peabody (as he has been christened by his caregivers) has been indulging in rest and relaxation and is enjoying the hospitality offered by his landlords.

‘He was so exhausted that he did not resist capture, and after a thorough examination by Dr. Brenda Bush he was installed in his condo at the Wildlife Rescue Rehabilitation Facility.

‘He is hand-fed sprats twice a day to build up his strength and energy reserve, and is sprayed lightly with water after each meal to encourage preening that will distribute the oils through his feathers that are necessary to keep him waterproof so that he will survive after his release. Catherine Redfern, one of the volunteers delivering room service to Mr. Peabody, believes that his loud squawking is his way of complimenting Cayman on its world-renowned hospitality.

‘As no physical damage was found on the bird it was decided to keep him at the Cayman Wildlife Rescue Facility for a week to allow him to rest and refuel while the bad weather passes.

Last Sunday at 10am CWR volunteers took Mr. Peabody back to the beach near South Sound Cemetery, where he was found.

‘After climbing out of the box and getting a feel for the wind direction he opened his wings and lifted up into the air. As soon as he was airborne he flew southwest from the beach directly out to sea, majestically sweeping and keeping close to the waves.’

Teresa Strad, one of Mr. Peabody’s caregivers expressed her joy at his successful release, ‘What an awesome and beautiful sight. It makes doing this job so worthwhile to have these successes.’

Mr. Peabody is one of the lucky survivors, says CWR.

‘In the week following the passage of Wilma, Cayman Wildlife Rescue was called to rescue two adolescent Red-footed Boobys which were also suffering exhaustion, but unfortunately volunteer caregivers and veterinarians were unable to revive them, and they both died. Another adolescent Masked Booby was found dead on the beach near to where Mr. Peabody was found – he had not survived the battering received by Hurricane Wilma.’

Masked Boobys are the largest members of the booby family, standing about 3ft high with a wingspan of just under 5ft. They are migratory birds that are rarely seen in Cayman which spend their lives at sea, coming ashore only to breed and raise young.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a collaborative volunteer organisation comprising volunteer members of the public, Island Veterinary Services, National Trust of the Cayman Islands, The Humane Society, The Department of Environment and Cayman Wildlife Connection. A small, quiet facility where animals can recuperate from injury and prepare for rehabilitation is maintained by volunteers and funded entirely by donations. If you would like to volunteer, make a donation to Cayman Wildlife Rescue, or if you come across an animal that needs rescue, call 949 0787, 947 4688, 916 8680; or log on to www.caymanwildlife.ky.

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