At the end of August, a security guard helped save a bird in Salmon Creek.
Jeff Williams, an office for Juneau Goldbelt Security, found a small bird in front of the Vocational Training and Resource Center near Salmon Creek on Aug. 22. To the untrained eye, the bird looked to have a damaged foot, said JRC’s Pat Bock. Williams easily took the bird and called Juneau Raptor Center, Bock said.
But the bird’s damaged foot might only have to do with its specialized morphology, Bock said: the juvenile murrelet is built to dive in the ocean, not walk on land. Murrelets are sea birds that nest in the forest rather than cliffs, like most other sea birds. Sometimes, they nest dozens of miles from the ocean, and don’t have strong legs built for walking, Bock said.
A young murrelet often only makes one long flight from its nest to the ocean, Bock said, and if they land before reaching water, they are not likely to survive. JRC guessed that the bird fledged from a nest somewhere in Salmon Creek Valley and landed just before making it to Gastineau Channel. It appeared to be in good health otherwise.
The bird spent a night nesting in a kennel with JRC. The center conducted a waterproofing test before releasing the bird back in the wild. It appeared to be in good condition, and after some preening, it was taken to the channel to be released at a public dock near Douglas Island Pink and Chum (DIPAC) hatchery, Bock said. Within a minute, it was diving along the shoreline like any other bird, Bock said.