Hungry Penguins and Waterproofed Grebes
Animals are moving through critical care, wash, rinse and rehab fairly quick as our very long days at the center pass. Our goal to have all birds except penguins washed before the weekend was over was knowingly optimistic, but we're pretty darn close! We've washed nearly 100 and only have about 30 left to do. Aside from minor uncontrollable circumstances such as problems with the water pumps and lengthy washing times due to extreme oil coverage, we are right on schedule to have these guys prepared for released.
There are a mix of bird species here we are caring for that all inhabit the Argentine coastline: blue-eye and rock cormorants, great grebes, steamer ducks, and Magellanic penguins. We each have our preference in characters, however Michelle has been in the wash room for the past two days and has marks to prove the powerful jabs of grebe beaks. If aggression is an indicator of will to survive, the grebes are determined!
In the slide show below I've included "before and after" images of the grebes in particular because their success here at the center is wonderful to see. Before wash and rinse the grebes were so drenched in oil that it would be impossible to imagine that they naturally have white chests and some have red necks. As soon as the grebes entered the rehabilitation pools for the first time they immediately began water proofing themselves. This is the true life saving step of the entire rehabilitation process and it's completely up to the animals - out of our hands. Water proofing occurs when the freshly washed birds begin to re-oil their feathers while in the pools, that in turn penetrates water from their inner feathers and skin. Without being waterproof birds would never survive in the wild.
Some other images in the slide show are of the penguins, who seem to be inevitably starving despite having been fed more than their daily requirement at points. Each penguin is allowed to eat 1kg of fish per day. Pappo, are penguin expert, splits the 1kg into two daily rations. However, at some points he gives in to the upward facing, wide open, calling out mouths of hungry penguins. They never had it so good....
You can also see how several of the penguins are extrememly oiled. We are still hopeful that the spill investigation will yield a responsible party. But until then, we concentrate on the work that needs to happen right now. Click on the slide show below, it captures most of the activity here at the center, but there is still more to come!