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.

Their main goal is to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured, wild birds, explained Melissa Dollard, the Avian Hospital Director.

"In some cases," she explained to FOX 13, "we're not able to release them and if they can have a good quality of life they can either live here or at another facility. But our main goal is to return them back to the wild."

"We do not discriminate. We love all species of birds," she added. "Our name leans more toward the seabirds, but we love all of them so we'll take all of them."

For instance, they even take in barn owls. While they don't typically reside in Pinellas County, they can be found more inland and in the northern counties of Florida. 

"During the early springtime we have baby birds that either been orphaned and sometimes cat attacks, but for the most part because we work with a lot of seabirds," Dollard said. "We get a lot of fishing line entanglement and hooks."

Another common injury they see with the bird patients are car strikes. With birds o prey, Dollard said the sanctuary sees rodenticide poisoning or other toxicity as the more common injuries.

At the end of their rehab, they hope they can release the bird back into the wild. Otherwise, it can find a permanent home at the sanctuary if they can't live in the wild, or hunt on their own.

In fact, anyone can visit to see the permanent residents.

"You can walk through it on your own pace. It can be a quick 10-minute visit or you can spend over an hour here just enjoying all the wild visitors as well as are permanent residents that are out on display," Dollard explained. "On any given day, we may be doing a release of brown pelicans or cormorants that we rehabilitated right on our beach behind the sanctuary. You never really know what you're going to find when you come here, and that's why I love it."

Due to the pandemic, they have had less visitors, donations are down,  and they've had to cancel fundraisers. They also loss volunteers with more people staying home

If you'd like to visit they are open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's free to visit, but they do accept donations.

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