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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Dingle Little Auk dies

The Little Auk in care at Dingle Aquarium died on Monday. With the recent storms it is possible that others might be found along the coast. The West Kerry Branch of BirdWatch Ireland sought advice from the experts about the best way to care for them, and this was the response.

Little Auk (Photo, Jonn Leffmann)
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From Steve Newton, Senior Conservation Officer with BirdWatch Ireland.

"I hear it is bad news for the Little Auk in question but in case another turns up we ought to have a plan.
Little Auks are plantivores year round so I doubt they would ever go for whole fish – even tiny sprats/sandeels. My guess is that they would have to be force fed (tube/syringe) liquefied fish or some form of pelleted protein rich meal that invertebrate-eating diving ducks are fed in captivity... maybe we should ask someone in Fota or Dublin Zoo?

With any stranded seabird, dehydration is the first issue to deal with and oral rehydration salts need to be administered before worrying about food per se.

Anyway, I hope this stimulates some discussion.
P.S. I have a friend in Louth looking after a hungry Gannet in his bath – taking chunks of chopped up mackerel, no hesitation! Little Auks are definitely easier to handle but maybe not to feed.