Last month, we took in a common, or thin-billed, murre, Uria aalge.
If you look at this picture of him you may notice that his legs look a little funny, like they are set too far back on his body. Well, they are. Murres are pelagic diving birds, meaning they live in the open ocean far from shore. Their limbs are adapted to life in the water and they are very awkward on land as well as in the air. They can only take off from the water, which is why this little guy ended up in our hands.
He was found on the beach in Narragansett, probably blown down from his migration by the high winds during a bad storm. Once down, he was grounded.
In the eastern US, Murres are found along the coast of Canada. Most are permanent residents, but some migrate south as far as New England during winter to escape the cold weather.
Once at the clinic, the murre was examined and found to be thin but uninjured. Our course of treatment was simple: offer him daily swims, fill him up with healthy fish calories, and give him a little time to rest. We also made every effort to preserve his feathering. Most seabirds are very stressed when placed in captivity and will not preen their feathers. They can, in a relatively short amount of time, lose their waterproofing and the ability to stay dry. This is life threatening.
Fortunately, he did very well and we were able to release him after only a few days. In the video below you can see how much trouble he had moving on land. Once in the water, he is clearly back in his element.
For more about this species, here is a link http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/common-murre