A local rescue group is asking for the public's help after it says birds are falling out of the sky because of red tide.
Shelley Vickery, with Birds in Helping Hands, said her organization is currently caring for 13 cormorants she says are suffering from red tide toxicity.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has previously warned that birds can be sickened or killed by eating fish or crustaceans contaminated with K. brevis -- Florida's red tide organism.
Vickery said her group has been getting calls all weekend about the birds falling from the sky and being found stumbling around the streets and people's yards.
"More are migrating from the north so we have an influx of them," Vickery said. "Literally they are falling out of the sky."
Previous: Full coverage of red tide in Tampa Bay
The group is asking for people to be on the lookout for sick cormorants. Often, their heads will be twirling around, and they will be unstable when walking or flying.
The black or grayish-black bird is about the size of a goose and is native to North America. They're widely distributed around the country and are found in flocks along the coast and near lakes and rivers.
Birds in Helping Hands said a couple of the birds they rescued died after being hit by cars. It said the birds were disoriented and stumbled into traffic.
If you find a sick cormorant, Vickery recommends calling the group and staying with the bird until a volunteer gets there. She also cautions against trying to touch the bird or pick it up -- their sharp, hooked beaks can deliver a nasty bite.
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