• Wildlife Triage Center
887 1/2 Sherman St.
Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's)
Drop-off area is open 24/7.
• Hotline (619) 225-WILD
• North County Wildlife Triage Center
County of San Diego, Department of Animal Services
2481 Palomar Airport Road
Open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Search and Rescue
or (619) 921-6044
BY SHELLI DEROBERTIS
When Marcella Katz found herself suddenly parenting a trio of baby seagulls that had fallen from their nest onto the deck at her apartment on the 600 block of Prospect Street in mid-July, she used a Christmas wreath to contain the birds and was successful in saving at least one until help arrived.
One gull immediately escaped the wreath and was killed in traffic while another one disappeared, and the remaining bird had injured its wing, Katz said.
So she relocated the wreath to a grassy knoll on her deck, and fed the lone baby sea bird soft bread and water for nearly a week until she found Project Wildlife, a local organization that takes in and rehabilitates sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in San Diego County.
“When I first arrived, I had my cage and my net and I saw the way the apartment was situated two to three stories above the road,” said Eleni Kounnas, volunteer for Project Wildlife.
She said the bird still had brown feathers, which indicated it was a juvenile gull that still couldn’t fly, but was at the age of testing its wings.
“I knew when I got there I couldn’t immediately pursue him or he would have run away off the deck and onto the road,” Kounnas said. “I realized the seagull had an injured wing, so I captured it with ease and put it in my car.”
When a phone call is made to the Project Wildlife hotline regarding an injured or unfortunate wild animal, Meryl Faulkner is one of about 100 countywide volunteers who take in animals to rehabilitate.
Faulkner’s specialty is treating birds, and since retiring in 2000 from her job as a lab technician, she said she averages an intake of about 500 birds annually.
Only 30 percent survive, she said.
“The bird Eleni brought to me is fine,” Faulkner said. “When he’s large enough to not get picked on, I’ll put him in with the bigger ones.”
She said it might take about 2 months before the junior seagull is released, and added that the goal for all the birds received is to let them go in the same area where they were rescued.
Faulkner said anyone who finds a displaced nest or chicks, should try and put the bird (or nest) back where it came from, or at least somewhere nearby if it’s not in an area near traffic.
She said that birds have no sense of smell and will not reject a chick that has been handled by humans. Typically, gull parents will not leave their nest for a fallen chick.
Katz hopes her experience can help other La Jollans who may encounter a similar situation, by spreading awareness of Project Wildlife and Wildlife Assist.