December 30, 2015
Normally found skimming the North Pacific, seabirds known as common murres are appearing inland in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and elsewhere in Southcentral Alaska, starving and unable to fly.
Reports of grounded murres have emerged from Moose Pass to north of Talkeetna, with many found this week in the Susitna Valley. The foot-tall black and white birds that resemble small penguins are showing up in odd places -- on the shoulder of busy Knik-Goose Bay Road outside Wasilla, just off a sled dog trail in Willow, tucked up next to a house in Houston.
The influx of murres is inundating local wildlife rehabilitation centers.
On Wednesday alone, 20 murres arrived at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage from Alaska WildBird Rehabilitation Center in Houston, where Susitna Valley residents are bringing grounded birds.
Hundreds of people shared social media posts about the bizarre murre sightings. One Valley resident posted a pathetic photo of a murre on its side in the snow on a Facebook group for Mat-Su lost and found pets with a comment: "This little fella is sitting in our driveway. I'm not sure what's wrong with him but he can't seem to fly away -- he can waddle and that's about it."