National

Jul 12, 2010 10:26 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Babies of the oil spill face an uncertain future

The smallest victims may be the biggest challenge for crews rescuing birds fouled with oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Some have gotten separated from their parents, or lost them when they died in a slick. Lucky orphans are taken to a cleaning center at Fort Jackson, La., where they are tended to by The International Bird Rescue Research Center.

Pelican chicks often come in cold because oil has matted down the fluffy down that's meant to keep them warm. They must be warmed quickly just so they'll survive long enough to get cleaned. And the youngest have to be taught to eat.

Baby terns can be smaller than a tennis ball, making it harder to keep them warm.

Baby sea turtles may be luckier because they don't need to learn life skills from a parent.

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