NewsPinellas County


Red Tide still affecting Florida's wildlife as lack of fish leaves loons without food

Posted at 4:47 PM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 17:59:44-05

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Kim Begay, binoculars at the ready, is always looking for birds that need help.

“We have some Forster’s terns that just flew away,” she said.

And lately she and the rest of the birds in Helping Hands are busy with constant calls about loons in trouble.

“It’s very distressing to us because we spend every day of our life helping birds and educating people about bird issues,” she said.

The problem is as the loons migrate south to Florida, they just can’t find the fish they need to eat. Kim says that’s because of red tide.

People are finding the aquatic birds on the beach. Which is often means they are sick or injured.

“Stay with the birds if you can," she said. "If you think the tide is going to come in and the bird might get back in the water, which we don’t want because he just might swim away and die, which would be awful. If you feel like you can do it, get a very thick towel. Throw it over the entire bird.”

Then call Birds in Helping Hands so they can get the loon the care they need.

Loons are showing up all around Pinellas County beaches, including Honeymoon Island, Fred Howard, and down to Fort De Soto Park.

“We love these birds and we want them to be safe, so when people do see them beached, we want them to know what to do,” Begay said.

You can call Birds in Helping Hands at 727-365-4592.