Despite pandemic, Seaside Seabird Sanctuary gets back to feathery philanthropy

Many nonprofit organizations across Tampa Bay have felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But Seaside Seabird Sanctuary has been able to reopen their doors and keep saving our feathered friends.

Despite their name, the sanctuary’s main goal is to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured wild birds of all kinds. The 1.5-acre facility in India Shores has over 100 birds on display, including pelicans, owls, hawks, vultures, songbirds, shorebirds, and parrots.

Their goal is to help injured birds heal so they can be released back into the wild. Those that won’t survive in the wild become permanent residents.

“We have a new American bald eagle that came into us. He was initially found with a gunshot wound. He has a permanently deformed wing and can’t fly that well,” Keith Wilkins explained. “We also have a Red the pelican. He’s a popular one -- been in several commercials and clothing catalogs -- has a deformed win and can’t fly. And Rufus the screen owl goes to a lot of events with us. Rufus is blind in one eye, so obviously he can’t hunt out in the wild.”

Other features include a gift shop, education center, observation tower overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, daily pelican hand-feeding presentations, and weekly screech owl and macaw presentations.

Seaside Seabird Sanctuary reports less donations, loss of volunteers during pandemic

Despite having property right along the beach in Indian Shores, Seaside Seabird Sanctuary takes in all sorts of birds.

“We want people and families to have a good, enjoyable, fun time looking at all the unique birds that represent the very diverse wildlife we have here in Florida,” Wilkins continued. “We want people to learn about all the dangers that our wildlife faces. A lot of it is caused directly or indirectly by man.”

Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is now open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's free to visit, but they do accept donations.

LINK: For more information on donating or volunteering, head over to the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary website.