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Brown Booby Makes Full Recovery at SFWC

An unusual off-season sight in our area, an injured Brown Booby with multiple medical issues makes a full recovery at SFWC

  • The Brown Booby enjoying our outdoor seabird habitat. The HSUS

  • The Brown Booby enjoying our outdoor seabird habitat. The HSUS

  • The Brown Booby preening his feathers after taking a dip in the pool. The HSUS

  • The Brown Booby checking out his release site off the coast of Key West/The HSUS

  • The Brown Booby taking off after being released off the coast of Key West/The HSUS

  • The Brown Booby enjoying the water after being released back into the wild off the coast of Key West/The HSUS

The South Florida Wildlife Center is equipped with several rescue ambulances to assist with wildlife rescues around South Florida. A few months ago, our team was dispatched to a fishing pier where some lifeguards had found what they thought was an injured Brown Pelican. But it turned out to be a much more surprising rescue than that.

When our rescue personnel arrived, they discovered the bird was not a pelican, but a Brown Booby—an uncommon species for Broward County at that time of year. The bird had an injury on his foot from a carelessly discarded fishing hook. He was brought to our wildlife hospital, where he was immediately examined by our veterinary staff.

Upon arrival, it was determined the bird had an infected wound in his foot from the fishing hook, but the vets also discovered he had both a bacterial and a fungal infection in his respiratory system The fungal infection was of particular concern because it is difficult to treat and the medication is incredibly expensive—about $300 per bottle.

We immediately began treatment for the bird’s multiple medical issues while he stayed in our hospital facility, allowing us to closely monitor his progress. The good news was that he was still feisty; he did not appreciate our handling, but he was noticeably weak from his injury and infections.

After about a month of treatment within the hospital, he was moved to our outdoor rehabilitation habitat built specifically for seabirds. The habitat has a seabird pool, which allows our patients to dive and fully submerge themselves in a five feet deep and 20 foot wide space, which in turn helps to speed their recovery. Having the ability to swim was especially helpful for this bird because he had sustained damage to the waterproofing capabilities of his feathers while he was sick, and being able to swim and preen in the pool helped to correct the damage.

After another month recovering in our outdoor habitat, the bird was finally ready to be released back out into the wild. We were able to find a perfect release site south of us off the coast of Key West, which was a much more appropriate habitat for a Brown Booby this time of year.

This unusual summer visitor was lucky to find his way to us so we could treat his numerous, and major, medical issues. How fortunate for him that, thanks to supporters such as you, SFWC had the veterinary talent and specialized equipment and habitats that allowed for a full and spectacular recovery and return to nature. Please consider making a small donation to the South Florida Wildlife Center to ensure we can continue to help injured wildlife across South Florida 365 days a year.

Watch a clip of the Brown Booby being released off the coast of Key West:

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