How to save a very rare species: the story of the fork-tailed petrel released in Messina

Fork-tailed petrel recovered in Milazzo. Photo: Carmelo Isgro

A rare bird indeed very rare. A rescue machine that was immediately activated and involved several people. At the end, an exciting return to the sea, to return to the fury of the waves those wings that are not used to the land at all. This is the story ruffed grousea very rare species in Italy, found in trouble by a 13-year-old boy in the garden of his house, in Milazzo. The animal was then handed over to marine museum staff who took it to the Messina Wildlife Recovery Center and placed it in the expert hands of a naturalist. Anna Giordano.

“I saw him disappear into the waves again it was an indescribable emotionI am still sailing very happy – says Kodami Anna Giordano, WWF naturalist and volunteer at the “Stretto di Messina” Wildlife Recovery Center managed by the Mediterranean Association for Nature (MAN) – A moment of liberation that actually lasts a few seconds is always a unique joy. It’s a little like us every time fly, crawl or walk with them. Fortunately, this individual did not have any major problems and we managed to return it to the sea.”

Fork-tailed Godwit (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) was seen only thirteen times in Italy

Fork-tailed petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) is a small nesting seabird along the North Atlantic coast. Sightings of it in the Mediterranean are therefore an isolated event rather than a rare one, and in fact it was already the case before this individual only thirteen Observations of this species in our country since ancient times 1854, all non-living or dying individuals. However, it was a thirteen-year-old youth who noticed and fished out the animal in trouble Diego Scibiliowho, after finding it in their garden, handed it over to the staff of the Milazzo Maritime Museum.

“If you find a strictly pelagic bird on land, that is, living in the open sea, it means something is wrong. After that, the director of the museum contacted me immediately Carmelo Isgro and we all immediately took steps to retrieve it and get it to CRAS – continues Anna Giordano – Most likely, a strong westerly storm pushed it from the sea to the garden of Milazzo, where the animal probably suffered an impact. Our veterinary expert Fabio Grosso confirmed the cranial edema, which was fortunately under control, and the animal was also fat and perfectly alert.”

A moment of liberation. Photo by Anna Giordano

So that was enough for the unfortunate stormtrooper rest and recovery time, then returns to the sea. This species, as well as the more common European woodpecker (Hydrobates pelagicus), in fact, they spend almost their entire lives on the open ocean, juggling between waves and rough seas, hence the name. The game continues inaccessible islandsin the colder northern regions of the oceans, they build their nests in well-hidden areas such as e.g cracks between rocks.

“It was special active and clear, obviously ready to fly again. We were therefore looking for a quiet place, far from noise, fishermen and population centers – explains the naturalist – The day after recovery, early in the morning, we then went to the extreme tip of Sicily, where the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas meet. Every liberation is always risky because you never know how it will end, and so there was a hint of tension. I took it gently and I put it on the sand. He looked around for a moment, then just a few seconds flew away in a beautiful flightdisappearing into the sea.”

Return to the sea. Photo by Anna Giordano

Save and restore freedom to such a rare animal, seen only thirteen times in our country over the past century and a half (the last one in January 1979, again in Úžín with a dying individual) must have been a truly unique emotion. And the credit for this exceptional recovery goes primarily to young Diego Scibilia, the staff of the Museo del Mare and director Carmelo Isgrò, and the expert hands of volunteers and veterinarians CRAS Strait of Messina. All these people will leave us a message together strong hope for the future of nature and biodiversity in our country.

“I had luck and privilege to be able to restore freedom to such a rare species. They are also exceptional animals, very small seabirds (only 18–21 cm in length, GDR) able to fly between the waves and storms of the oceans. It was an indescribable joy, a unique emotion. He flew away very quickly, touched the sea with his paws several times and flew close to the surface of the water and then disappeared over the horizon” concludes Anna Giordano. Rescued, nurtured and released back into the wild in Messina, this is a beautiful story with a happy ending Fourteenth Fork-tailed Petrel for Italy.

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