Norman the red-footed booby, who was rescued on a British beach and flown by plane to Cayman, died at the Cayman Turtle Centre on Christmas Day, the Department of Environment confirmed Tuesday.
The tropical bird had been rescued from a St. Leonards-on-Sea beach in southeast England in September after winds from Hurricane Matthew sent the young bird off its flight course.
The Department of Environment indicated Norman never adapted after arriving in Grand Cayman in December.
Having landed in the U.K. malnourished and dehydrated, Norman was nursed to health by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals before being transported overseas. A donated British Airways flight from Heathrow brought the bird to Grand Cayman, where veterinary staff took over care.
Department of Environment terrestrial research officer Jane Haakonsson explained that due to stress, Norman never began taking fish, forcing staff to resort to tube feeding.
“Norman the booby just never really recovered after the long journey. He never settled in,” Ms. Haakonsson said.
“Everything that could have been done was done and he got a second chance at it.”
The white feathers on Norman’s back indicate it was a young bird and not yet sexually reproductive. While booby birds are good at navigating for daily feeding trips, Ms. Haakonsson said, young birds like Norman are more easily confused in flight.
An autopsy by the St. Matthew’s University veterinary team is pending. At that time, tests will also confirm Norman’s gender.
If Norman had survived, the bird would have been transported on a free flight provided by Cayman Airways to a reserve on Little Cayman. Even then, Norman would have been at high risk due to months of captivity.
“There was a risk he wouldn’t have made it because his flight muscles were gone,” Ms. Haakonsson said.