NEWS

Atlantic Puffin shows up in downtown Montreal

12/20/2011 09:25 EST | Updated 02/19/2012 05:12 EST

A Montreal woman found an Atlantic Puffin on a downtown Montreal street last week, and a local animal shelter is now trying to find a way to get the bird back home to St John's for Christmas.

The young puffin is in the hands of Le Nichoir, a wildbird rehabilitation centre in Hudson, Que., just west of the island of Montreal. It is currently resting in the bathtub of one of Le Nichoir's staff.

The centre's executive director, Susan Wylie, told the CBC she wasn't sure how the bird ended up so far from its home on the Atlantic coast.

Her theory is that the puffin caught a ride on a ship heading up the St. Lawrence River to Montreal.

With Thursday's pounding rain, Wylie suspects the puffin mistook the streets of the city's downtown core for a body of water and then couldn't take off again.

"The way their bodies are built with their legs very far behind their back, they're not able to fly off the ground...so they get almost stranded," Wylie said.

Le Nichoir's staff is working to get the puffin, who's a year old, back to Newfoundland before Christmas Eve. They may put it on a plane Tuesday night but the ticket could set the wildbird centre back about $150.

The puffin may be lonely once it arrives home because most Atlantic puffins have already migrated. "He's a straggler," Wylie said.

It will also be checked by a veterinarian who specializes in puffins to make sure its feathers weren't contaminated during its travels and are still waterproof.

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