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Longboat Key Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 4 years ago

Russell the razorbill has new home at Sea World

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

A razorbill treated at Save Our Seabirds has a new home at Sea World in San Antonio, Texas.

SOS staffers nicknamed the bird “Russell” after finding him injured near the facility in January.

He was one of hundreds of razorbills that made another unusual journey in December and January, when they began migrating to Florida. The penguin look-alikes are part of the alcid family and typically reside in cold North Atlantic waters, rarely straying south of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Before the end of 2012, Florida had just 14 reports of razorbills.

Alcids are sometimes driven by storms to unusual places, but usually large-scale invasions are driven by food shortages.

Many died after becoming emaciated and dehydrated, according to Save Our Seabirds CEO David Pilston, but one male razorbill that volunteers rescued near the City Island facility in early January survived.

Staffers and volunteers rehydrated him and tube fed him.

They did their best to keep him cold and brought in blocks of ice for his pond. He fattened up and started eating fish again. Before long, SOS officials realized it was time to find him a more permanent home and placed him at Sea World in San Antonio.

Russell still has a broken wing, which could cause problems for him if he were released into the wild because razorbills dive for their food.

It still isn’t clear whether he may someday be released into the wild.

For more information, pick up a Feb. 21 copy of the Longboat Observer.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].

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