Lost Puffin Going Home!
Lost Atlantic puffin expected to fly home Thursday
Anne Sutherland, The Gazette : Wednesday, December 21, 2011 11:12 AM
MONTREAL - A Hudson woman has been playing host to a special guest – one that is desperately trying to get home.
Looks like he's booked on a morning flight to Newfoundland on Thursday.
A 6-month old Atlantic puffin has been paddling around the bathtub of Lindsay D'Aoust's home since Dec. 15, the day the bird was found in downtown Montreal.
A veterinary technician spotted him on Guy St. How he got there remains a mystery.
Puffins normally take off from water and have a pretty tough time getting airborne from solid ground.
The poor bird was grounded on Guy.
The technician, who lives in Rigaud, took the bird to the Hudson Animal Hospital, which in turn called Lynn Miller, co-founder of Le Nichoir, a rehabilitation centre for wild birds.
"They called me straight away and I went over and thought, oh my goodness, it's a puffin. I have worked with sea birds so I knew what it was," Miller said.
"I gave it a quick exam and the bird was in good shape. The weight was down, but it wasn't particularly dehydrated."
The bird looked slightly concussed with one eye partially shut, leading Miller to speculate it had come to Montreal in swift fashion, on the deck of a ship travelling up the St. Lawrence River.
"Puffins have been known to fly towards light and if a ship was coming through Newfoundland with the lights on, there's how he crashed onto the deck," Miller said.
The animal sanctuary is closed for the winter, so the wee bird was taken to D'Aoust's house and placed in the tub filled with cold water that is changed two to three times a day.
The bird has a pull-out kind of mesh trampoline to get out of the water, but it prefers to poop in the water, Miller said.
"He smells a bit fishy, but he does eat a lot of fish," she said of the bird's diet of capelin and mackerel.
Though Miller refers to the puffin as "he", the gender issue is up in the air.
"We don't know the sex because the male and the female look the same, but it's lucky for them that they know."
Nichoir executive director Susan Wylie has been helping to care for the puffin and trying to negotiate with Air Canada to get the bird on a flight to Newfoundland, where most North American puffins live.
"There are federal rules that prohibit birds in the plane because of fears of avian influenza, so he'd have to go in a heated cargo space, from Montreal to Halifax and then on to St. John's," Miller said.
On Tuesday, they got confirmation that the bird will fly on Thursday.
When the plane lands, a bird expert will keep him in a facility for a couple of days to make sure he's stable, Miller said.
The Canadian Coast Guard has volunteered to help relocate the bird to one of the puffin colonies on the shoreline.
"It's been wonderful to see how people are helping," Miller said.
"It's really heartwarming."
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