Help with a bird rehabilitation question please


I'm studying for a qualification in wildlife care and rehabilitation and wondered whether I could pick your brains on an assignment question that I'm struggling on a little.

The question asks that I choose a couple of seabirds and describe their diet and natural habitat.  That's the easy bit but I then need to explain how the diet and habitat can be used to assess whether the bird can be treated and released back to the wild.  I also have to answer the same question for a raptor and a garden bird. 

I'm struggling a little with this as I understand how the diet and habitat is important in working out how best to treat the bird and where to re-release, but I don't understand how it would completely preclude even attempting to treat/release.  Please could somebody point me in the right direction as to whether there are types of sea (or other) bird which simply cannot be treated and released (or would be incredibly difficult to) and, if so, why based on diet and habitat alone?

Apologies if this is a stupid question. 

Thanks in advance, 


  • Hi TM,

    Off the top of my head and trying to remember from the big seabird wreak in 2013 - 2 of the trickiest were Manx Shearwater and Gannet

    The re-hab unit needs to have decent pools and Gannets will go for the eyes which makes them very tricky to handle.

    With regard to your question - If a Gannet cannot successful dive, it would not be able to feed itself therefore returning to the wild would not be possible

    Shearwaters only come land to breed so again need to be fit to fly and float

    Cin J

  • Thanks Germain, that's really helpful. One of the two birds I have chosen to study for this assignment is actually the Gannet (the other being Common Tern).

    I believe that Gannets need saltwater otherwise their salt glands stop working but that Common Terns can adapt to fresh water.