Hurricane Sandy blamed for bird deaths

Dec. 31, 2012 at 2:06 PM

FORT MEYERS, Fla., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Florida wildlife officials say Hurricane Sandy may be the reason exhausted and starving seabirds are showing up on the state's beaches.

Wildlife specialists said 19 razorbills, which normally don't travel any further south than Virginia, have been found on Southwest Florida beaches and taken to wildlife rehabilitation centers, the Fort Meyers (Fla.) News-Press reported Monday.

While razorbills mostly stay between Maine and New Jersey and prefer breeding in Iceland, experts said Hurricane Sandy may have blown the small birds off course and destroyed their food supply, sending them as far south as Florida in search of food.

But the long flight without sufficient food is proving fatal to the birds, they said.

"It's exhaustion and emaciation," Jessica Bender, wildlife rehabilitation specialist with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said. "They are just really skinny and really tired."

Bender said despite giving them food and rest the birds are not surviving.

Razorbills have never been observed in Florida before, wildlife experts said.

"I'd never seen one before," Bender said. "It's hard to tell what is going on."

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