Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

June 3, 2016

The Release Files: Fare thee well, Great Blue!

Bird-Rescue

An adult Great Blue Heron came to us from Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz after being found April 14 hanging from its right wing by fishing line. On arrival the bird had substantial skin damage and edema midway out the wingtip, and the bones felt possibly fractured under the swelling. We splinted and wrapped the wing for support to make the bird more comfortable, and scheduled x-rays for a few days later when the bird was more stable.

The x-ray showed the wingtip had not been fractured – but rather had ligament and bone damage at one of the two wingtip joints. Over the next week the edema resolved but the skin crossing the wing tip joint necrosed (died), leaving defects in skin coverage and an infected joint. Also the bird’s primary flight feathers were damaged and severely crimped which put them at high risk of breaking. With all the bird’s issues it was not looking good for this bird ever flying again.

In treatment we used a feather repair method where the feathers are soaked in extremely hot water to soften them. Then our staff veterinarian ‘ironed’ the feathers to reshape the crimped zones and thus restore the feather’s normal shape.

The skin and joint injuries were more complicated. Our vet treated the heron by surgically removing dead tissue and closing the main defect with adjacent skin. Another area of skin necrosis that exposed the infected joint itself was debrided, flushed, infused with an injectable antibiotic, and managed as an open wound.

The wingtip injuries finally and completely healed as of earlier this week, and we were at last confident the bird was out of the woods. So, with great pleasure, we released this gorgeous Great Blue Heron this week and watched it gracefully fly into the marsh!

 Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

 

May 10, 2016

Patients of the Week: Mallard Ducklings

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It’s a scene all too common: A mother Duck is struck by a vehicle on a busy highway while moving her brood of ducklings.

Last week this drama played out again in Santa Rosa, CA. Luckily for the surviving mallard ducklings, a quick thinking California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer sprung into action. The CHP contacted our friends at The Bird Rescue Center of Sonoma County and they coordinated a tricky rescue in the fast lane of Highway 101.

Unfortunately, they were unable to save the mother who, in her last protective act, kept all her ducklings together in a very stressful and scary situation. The ducklings transferred to our San Francisco Bay wildlife center where they are enjoying their own pool and enclosure.

From the size of these ducklings, it is clear that these ducklings had a courageous mother because they are rather mature to still be in such a large clutch. She kept them together longer than a typical Mallard hen would.

Please consider making a gift to celebrate courageous mothers everywhere!

Your donation helps Bird Rescue to continue its important work in mitigating the human impact on injured, oiled, sick, and orphaned water birds. Every bird matters.

Read more: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/5581218-181/chp-rescues-ducklings-on-highway

May 2, 2016

Meet Bart Selby, Ace Pelican Spotter!

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Brown Pelican with its blue band A56 was reported at the Monterey Wharf. Photo by Bart Selby

Our Blue-banded Pelican Program has become important to a lot of pelican enthusiasts who like the idea of connecting with California Brown Pelicans as individuals with personal histories. But to Bart Selby, connecting in this way seems like a calling of the highest order. This self-described Brown Pelican fan has become one of the super-reporters of banded pelicans in our (so far) seven-year old program.

On May 7th, you too can become a pelican spotter as part of the California Audubon Society’s Brown Pelican Count, and we hope you will keep an eye out for blue-banded pelicans as well! Learn how to get involved here:
http://ca.audubon.org/brownpelicansurvey

Our ace spotter Bart hails from San Carlos, CA, and is passionate about pelicans. Using his kayak and a keen eye, he has reported more than 175 sightings of 95 different individual blue-banded pelicans–and that’s not counting his sightings of green-banded birds released after the Refugio oil spill or white-banded birds rehabilitated at Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria, OR. Most of his sightings have been photodocumented with beautiful images of our former patients resting, preening, and generally behaving like normal wild pelicans.

We talked to Bart about his passion and some of the spotting strategies he uses in the field.

Q. How did you hear about and begin spotting blue-banded pelicans?

A. I’m a huge Brown Pelican fan. I’ve been photographing them for years. I’m a volunteer Team Ocean kayak-based naturalist on Monterey’s Elkhorn Slough summer weekends, and I’m on the Citizen’s Advisory Board of NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. I spotted my first blue-banded pelican (“A56”) in Monterey in 2011, and my second (“P62”) at Pillar Point in 2014.

During the summer of 2015, I began training for a solo kayak crossing to the Farallons, paddling three times a week before work, often in harbors. At Half Moon Bay’s Pillar Point, I happened to photograph Brown Pelican C84, and was hooked on banded birds when I read his amazing history (see below). Over the summer, I refined my spotting technique and racked up a few identifications.

C84’s story:

Oft spotted C84: Blue-banded Pelican. Photo by Bart Selby

The winter of 2010 saw a mass stranding event of adult pelicans. At the time, Southern California’s breakwaters and jetties (as well as highways and backyards!) were covered with dead and dying, starving, cold, and contaminated mature adult pelicans. This mass mortality event was occurring only a few months after the species was removed from the Endangered Species List in November 2009.

This bird was admitted on January 9, 2010, after landing in the yard at our LA wildlife center, and was listed in our database with the very rare distinction of being “self-admitted.” This very smart bird was thin and weak, and had contaminated plumage. We treated and released him, clean and well fed, on January 29, 2010.

Resightings:
11/12/2012 in Moss Landing, CA
7/30/2015, 8/1/2015, 8/16/2015, 8/24/2015, 9/13/2015, 9/15/2015, and 9/17/2015 at Pillar Point Harbor, CA

Q. What things have you learned in your quest? Tips, suggestions?

A. The first rule of respectful interaction with animals is to not disturb any wildlife. Disturbance is defined as any change in behavior. In an ID shot, it is ideal if the bird is grooming, stretching, sleeping, or even looking at the camera. If it is taking off or hopping away, it was most likely disturbed. That’s bad karma.

I tell visitors to only go out with or get instruction from someone who knows how to approach wildlife without disturbing it. For one thing, it’s a numbers game. You have to see a lot of birds to find tagged ones, and you will not see a lot if you disturb any, as they all talk to each other. And roosting birds need recovery time to groom and rest.

The best way to get close to water or shore birds is to go on a boat tour with responsible guides in an area where the wildlife is acclimated. I tell people who ask that the best place to photograph sea otters is walking around the pier at Monterey’s marina. If you paddle in Drake’s Estero in Point Reyes, harbor seals spook at 500 yards. At Cannery Row in June, the adolescents often jump on boats. Pelicans in harbors are generally not afraid of humans, if the humans are behaving as the birds expect.

Notice the defect in the middle right side of T80's upper bill--IBR staff were not sure if this would be a problem for a plunge-diving bird. Thanks to this photo we were relieved to see the bill looking great several years later!

Notice the defect in the middle right side of T80′s upper bill–IBR staff were not sure if this would be a problem for a plunge-diving bird. Thanks to this photo we were relieved to see the bill looking great several years later!

Pelicans typically roost at night, so if prey is in the area, dawn will find them at their local safe spots.

Q. What surprises you about the pelicans you see?

A. Pelicans are complex, tolerant, and interesting birds. The more I see of them, the more impressed I am. The Blue-banded Pelican Program opens amazing windows to learning ever more about the birds by allowing us to see them as individuals, and by demonstrating that Bird Rescue’s great intervention works. I’m seeing the same birds over months. I see individual birds’ plumage change with the seasons and figure out who hangs with whom, where and when.

When I get a bird’s history, it’s often possible to spot the recovery from an injury in the image, like the foot injury of C74 or the healing beak of T80. It’s very cool to find out I’m the first to see a bird that was released five years earlier. And it’s amazing to see the green-banded (“Z”) birds recovering from the Refugio oil spill getting new plumage. I’ve seen 12 of them in total and one of them, Z15, I’ve seen six times.

Reviewing the images with their history has made me a better observer. On my last paddle at Elkhorn, I saw five banded birds, three blue (E08, P09, V89) and two green (Z23, Z36), as well as two injured birds–one badly cut, most likely by a sea lion bite, one with heavily contaminated plumage. And I saw one pelican paddle into the harbor from the bay, for some reason he/she could not fly.

Q. Any gear that you use that helps you better spot banded pelicans?

A. I see most banded birds from a kayak. I have pretty good vision, and I’ve learned to find the tag by looking for color or the brightness of an aluminum band with unaided eyes; then I quickly shoot images with a camera. I try to never stop or point the boat toward the bird. Often I will not see the number until I check the image later. Binoculars are useful in larger boats but not in kayaks, which generally move too much to do efficient scanning. I use (waterproof) Nikon Monarch binoculars and a full-frame Nikon with a fast 400mm zoom. My most useful tools are knowing where to look and how to approach wildlife without disturbance.

Q. Where do you normally look for blue-banded pelicans?

A. Brown Pelicans have huge wingspans and need a lot of time, space, and ground speed to get airborne. They must take off and land facing into the wind. I think they have difficulty getting to flight speed on land unless the winds are within a narrow range, so they stick to a cliff top or someplace on the water; this greatly limits where you will find them roosting, resting, or preening. For pelicans to be present, there must be prey in the area. When pelicans are around, you will find them in the same spots, always on the water and hard for land-based predators to get to. Breakwaters are their ideal roosting spots, jetties a close second. The last two years have been outstanding for sea life in Northern California, with huge numbers of pelicans around, from Monterey to the Gate. I saw more than 20,000 in the Pillar Point harbor on a few days in August and photographed 14 tagged birds.

Brown Pelican C74 was spotted last summer at Pillar Point Harbor. Photo by Bart Selby

Great view of an old injury years later–notice C74 is missing half of his right foot’s outer toe. It was amputated due to a fishing hook injury. Photo by Bart Selby

If pelicans are not feeding, they are travelling to the fish. In California, if they are headed north, you can also see them along Highway 1 or on trails that have high bluffs right along the water. To fly north into our prevailing winds, pelicans “bluff surf.” As the winds strike the coastal cliffs, they are deflected up; birds–mostly gulls and pelicans–will surf that uplift. In it they can fly directly into the wind travelling at 30mph without beating their wings. They position themselves at the top of the cliff, often less than 20 feet away from the edge, then soar up and slide down and forward, repeating the process over and over. If you pull off Highway 1 along those bluffs–anywhere from LA to Oregon–Brown Pelicans will fly right by you. Anyone riding in a car may see pelicans up close, often from the car window.

The Blue-banded Pelican Program began in 2009 as a brainchild of Jay Holcomb, the Director of International Bird Rescue until his passing in 2014. Jay envisioned a program that asked the public, or “citizen scientists,” to track and report these majestic seabirds. Jay’s vision shaped the program, and we are continuing his legacy. The program is now being shepherded by our Veterinarian and Research Director Dr. Rebecca Duerr and our Operations Manager and Master Bander Julie Skoglund. Since September 2009, Bird Rescue has treated and released more than 1,222 blue-banded California Brown Pelicans. Read more about our banding programs

pelicans-2-fly-thumbBecome a Pelican Partner: It’s an unforgettable experience and a unique way to support wild birds in need. In our Pelican Partner program, you and your family will have the chance to tour either our Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay centers, where you’ll meet your seabird as it gets ready for its release.

April 21, 2016

Double your impact on the birds!

JD Bergeron

Dear Fellow Bird and Nature Lovers,

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As we celebrate our 45th year of saving birds at International Bird Rescue, we are asking you to help us take advantage of a wonderful offer we’ve received from a generous donor.

This person, who wishes to remain anonymous, has pledged to double the first $10,000 worth of donations made to International Bird Rescue to celebrate our 45th anniversary! What this means is that donations made now will go even further in helping us save sick, injured, and orphaned aquatic birds just like the over 6,000 birds we helped last year.

As you probably already know, the funds we receive from you and other bird and nature lovers support our day-to-day bird rescue operations, which involve caring for many different patients such as a male Surf Scoter that was found on a beach in Monterey and brought to our San Francisco Bay facility. When this patient was closely examined by our dedicated clinic staff, they discovered and removed a 3-inch piece of metal from his left shoulder. See Facebook post

The State of California provides partial support to our two state-of-the-art California wildlife clinics to enable them to respond quickly to oil spills. But this funding represents only a small portion of what it costs to operate our facilities 365 days a year, rescuing, caring for, and rehabilitating thousands and thousands of birds annually.

If you believe in the work we do and share our belief that we humans must make efforts to mitigate our impacts on birds and the natural world, please make a donation today.

Remember, your contribution will be doubled. And no amount is too small it truly does take a village of compassionate, caring individuals to make a difference. Prefer to donate via PayPal? Click here

With appreciation,

 

JD-signature

 

 

 

JD Bergeron – Executive Director
jd@bird-rescue.org
T: 707.207.0380 x102

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April 5, 2016

Our 45th Anniversary Ambassador Bird…the Surf Scoter!

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In honor of our 45th anniversary, we have chosen the Surf Scoter as our ambassador bird. International Bird Rescue has a long history working with these iconic ducks. Surf Scoters were a seabird species deeply affected by the 1971 oil spill at the Golden Gate Bridge which led directly to the formation of Bird Rescue in April of that same year.

In 2007, Surf Scoters were also a key species during the Cosco Busan spill. We saw them again in great numbers during the 2015 Mystery Goo event in San Francisco Bay.

These striking birds are easily seen from shores and boats even without binoculars, making them a great learning target for new birders and children. In addition, they are very good patients during rehabilitation and heal relatively quickly.

Learn more about Surf Scoters at AllAboutBirds.org.

Photo: Cheryl Reynolds

 

March 30, 2016

Release Files: A Tale of Two Pelicans

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Brown Pelicans N32 and N33 about to take off after being released at White's Point.

Brown Pelicans N32 and N33 about to take off after being released at White’s Point by Dr. Rebecca Duerr.

The tale of two recent pelican patients gives you a peek in to International Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation program:

A female Brown Pelican N33 was rescued in San Pedro, CA with a large neck abscess, likely caused by a fish hook. The infection wrapped around the back of her neck, digging deep into her neck muscles. Our veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr, anesthetized her to remove all the necrotic (dead) material from the abscess, and the wound required several weeks of intensive wound management by our LA center staff.

See the before and after images (below) – warning: the ‘before’ picture is a bit graphic! But these are the sort of wounds we successfully treat every day. We are very happy to report that the wound healed beautifully, and she was ready to be released with her aviary buddy N32.

The next Brown Pelican N32 entered care June 14, 2015 after being found on the streets of Long Beach by LB Animal Control. After a full examination, we determined she was suffering from a facial neuropathy. She had little to no control over her lower eyelids, pouch or mandible muscles, showing a floppy pouch, droopy eyelids, and the inability to fully close her mouth. We knew we couldn’t release a Brown Pelican who was unable to control her mouth – to catch dinner, they have to hit the water mouth first at high speed!

The cause of the pelican’s problem remains unknown but we suspect a toxin of some kind, such as from some species of marine algae. Improvement was very slow but steady, and it took lots of time and patience until she regained the ability to control those areas of her body. After nine months in care we determined she had fully recovered and was ready to go!

Both birds were released March 14, 2016 at White’s Point in San Pedro and flew off strongly. They circled around their caregivers a few times before landing one on the reef and one on the water offshore.

Please support Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation programs. With your generous gift we can continue to treat each pelican with the medical, surgical, and nursing care it needs to have a second chance at a vibrant life in the wild. We love Pelicans!

Brown Pelican N33's nasty neck wound early in treatment.

Brown Pelican N33′s nasty neck wound early in treatment.

Brown Pelican N33's healed neck wound just before she was released.

Brown Pelican N33′s healed neck wound just before she was released.

March 22, 2016

Patient of the Week: Great Blue Heron

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GRBE-Avairy-wing-wrap-2016-redWe get a lot of birds with broken wing bones into our wildlife centers each year. This latest patient is a Great Blue Heron that was found in Milpitas, CA with a fracture of radius and ulna (see x-ray). Great Blue Herons are among our most challenging patients because of their size and intense skittishness. In fact, we have to keep them in quiet isolation as best we can because they can become spooked easily and harm themselves by bumping against the sides of their enclosure.

This week our dedicated staff and veterinarian at our San Francisco Bay center may “pin” the fracture soon to aid in the healing of this majestic heron. Right now, the bird is doing well with its purple wing wrap and it has a healthy appetite.

The Great Blue Heron is the largest North American heron with a wingspan of 66-79 in (167-201 cm) and a height of 45-54 (115–138 cm).

Great Blues, like many herons, were hunted to near extinction in the last century for their gorgeous blue-gray plumes. Today, they are a species of Least Concern but of special concern to us as rehabbers. Thanks for all of your support which allows us to be of service to these gentle giants. More info

Please follow us on Facebook for even more great bird stories and photos.

How will you help a bird today?

Photo by Jennifer Linander

March 17, 2016

Patient of the Week: Brown Pelican with severe pouch laceration

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Photo of Brown Pelican with torn pouch in care at International Bird Rescue

This Brown Pelican was rescued in San Pedro with a large piece missing from its front pouch. Photo: Doug Carter

Surgery of torn Pelican pouch

Delicate surgery was required to repair torn pouch. Photo: Bill Steinkamp

It may be gull month but we, of course, have had a ton of other animals needing help come our way!

Brown Pelican “Red-111″ (temporary band #) came to our Los Angeles wildlife center with an unusual and severe pouch laceration – not as large as Pink the Pelican’s tear but much more difficult to repair. A large piece of the front of the pouch was ripped off the bird’s jaw, leaving a great big hole and the pouch piece hanging like what some people mistook for a fish.

“Pelicans are good at healing mild damage to their pouches, but if they can’t eat they can’t heal,” said Dr. Rebecca Duerr, staff veterinarian,

Unfortunately, the ripped piece was dying, so Dr. Duerr had to remove it, then take a big tuck and sew the opposite side across the gap. It took about 150 stitches to sew the pouch. She is hoping the bird’s pouch will stretch with time now that it has mostly healed and he’s outside in the aviary.

In the meanwhile, he can enjoy the menu and fly around the large flight aviary.

Photo of pelican pouch surgery at International Bird Rescue

Pelican under anesthesia just before surgery to repair torn pouch. Photo: Bill Steinkamp

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After surgery pelican takes flight in the 100-foot aviary at our Los Angeles center in San Pedro. Photo: Doug Carter

 

February 26, 2016

Patient of the Week: Canada Gosling

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Our first baby bird of the season — a Canada gosling — is also our patient of the week!

Found earlier this month on the grounds of the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, CA, the gosling was then delivered to our friends at Lindsay Wildlife and, 10 days later, transferred to our San Francisco Bay center.

The gosling is growing quickly: it weighed 98g at rescue, and its weight is now 354g and climbing!

This week we received two more orphaned goslings and all the birds are sharing quarters in a duckling box at our center.

A Canada Goose typically lays a clutch of five to seven white eggs, although clutches can range from as few as two to as many as 12. Newly hatched goslings look a lot like ducklings with their yellowish gray feathers and dark bill. By nine to ten weeks, however, they have turned gray and grown their flight feathers.

We treat hundreds of goslings and ducklings each year at both our California centers. This year is starting off with a beauty!

 

February 22, 2016

New Oiled Birds Tied To Old Sunken Ship Still Leaking Off San Francisco

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Oiled Red-necked Grebe

Oiled Red-necked Grebe in care. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds

Oiled seabirds recently cared for by International Bird Rescue have been conclusively traced back to a leaking cargo ship that sunk off the coast of California more than 60 years ago.

Since December of 2015, Bird Rescue’s wildlife center in Fairfield has cared for nine oiled birds including a Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Western Grebe, and six Common Murres. All the birds were rescued along beaches in San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.

“International Bird Rescue exists to help mitigate human impacts on birds, and the Luckenbach unfortunately is a huge human mistake that continues to taint these beautiful seabirds,” said JD Bergeron, Executive Director. “We will continue to use our 45 years of experience to wash and rehabilitate contaminated wildlife, to train others to do so, to innovate with care options. Ultimately, this whole effort is to get more of these birds back to the wild.”

To date, three birds have been released, two are still in care, and the four remaining have died. A Red-necked Grebe was one of those released. Here is description of the steps to recovery: http://blog.bird-rescue.org/index.php/2016/02/patient-of-the-week-red-necked-grebe/.

Feather samples from the oiled birds sent to a California state lab confirmed that the oil came from the S.S. Jacob Luckenbach that sank in 180 feet of water on July 14, 1953 about 17 miles west-southwest of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. This cargo vessel was loaded with 457,000 gallons of bunker fuel. It has been leaking sporadically over the years – especially during winter months when strong currents bring oil to the ocean’s surface.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) announced these findings late last week.

Luckenbach sank 17 miles off San Francisco coast in 1953 and has been leaking oil ever since.

Luckenbach sank 17 miles off San Francisco coast in 1953 and has been leaking oil ever since.

In early 2002, oil associated with several “mystery spills” was first linked to the Luckenbach. These included the Point Reyes Tarball Incidents of winter 1997-1998 and the San Mateo Mystery Spill of 2001-2002.

Over the years, Bird Rescue estimates it has treated thousands of “mystery spill” birds.

“Bird Rescue has shouldered much of the cost of caring for these oiled birds, going back many years.” said Bergeron. “The oceans are becoming less and less hospitable for birds and other marine wildlife, even without these toxins. We step up to help because we believe every bird matters, and we’re grateful for the incredible community support we get.”

By September 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard and the trustees removed more than 100,000 gallons of the fuel oil from the vessel and sealed the remaining oil inside the vessel – including some 29,000 gallons that was inaccessible to be pumped out of the ship’s tanks.

What to do if you observe oiled wildlife

Anyone observing oiled wildlife should not approach or touch the animals. Please report the exact location and condition of the animal to Oiled Wildlife Care Network at (877) 823-6926.

How oil affects birds

When oil sticks to a bird’s feathers, it causes them to mat and separate, impairing waterproofing and exposing the animal’s sensitive skin to extremes in temperature. This can result in hypothermia, meaning the bird becomes cold, or hyperthermia, which results in overheating. Instinctively, the bird tries to get the oil off its feathers by preening, which results in the animal ingesting the oil and causing severe damage to its internal organs. In this emergency situation, the focus on preening overrides all other natural behaviors, including evading predators and feeding, making the bird vulnerable to secondary health problems such as severe weight loss, anemia and dehydration.

Resources

http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/maritime/expeditions/luckenbach.html

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/OSPR/NRDA/Jacob-Luckenbach

Red-necked Grebe preens its feathers after being washed of oil. Photo Cheryl Reynolds

Red-necked Grebe preens its feathers after being washed of oil. Photo Cheryl Reynolds

February 16, 2016

Patient of the Week: Red-necked Grebe

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An oiled Red-necked Grebe is our patient of the week. This grebe whose temporary tag was “Red-33″ came into the center with oil contamination on December 18, 2015. He was stabilized, washed, then treated for foot injuries likely caused by beaching when the oil removed his waterproofing.

After nearly 2 months in care, he was returned to the wild on February 10, 2016.

Here’s the steps to recovery:

Intake

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe at International Bird Rescue

When this bird arrived, you could barely recognize what species he was due to the heavy contamination with oil. Every oiled bird receives a thorough examination upon intake in order to assess related injuries such as skin burns, foot and toe damage, and emaciation.

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe feathers at International Bird Rescue

While examining an oiled bird, Bird Rescue staff assess the extent of contamination and collect oiled feather samples for use by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oil Spill Response and Prevention office.

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe toes at International Bird Rescue

Grebe feet are among the most beautiful of bird feet, with their lobed toes. They are unfortunately also among the most delicate. An oiled bird will often be forced to beach itself because its feathers no longer retain waterproofing or heat. Within a very short time, these delicate toes can become damaged by sand and rough surfaces. This damage can be nearly impossible to undo if the bird does not come into care quickly enough.

 After stabilization and wash

Photo of Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

After stabilization, the bird goes through the wash process. This photo was taken right after the wash process. The grebe is preening and bathing to get its feathers back in order, a very good sign!

 Preening is cleaning

Photo of preening Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

Preening activities immediately after the wash ensure that the bird is doing its part to maintain waterproofing.

Ready for release

Photo of Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

Success is a fully waterproof grebe with healthy feet and a little extra weight on it to ease the transition back into the wild and the renewed search for its own food! Thanks to everyone who helped this bird with direct care or a donation!!

Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

 

February 8, 2016

Patient of the Week: California Gull

Bird-Rescue

This California Gull came to our Los Angeles center this week after being hit by a car in Carson, CA. The impact resulted in compound fractures (see x-ray) of both the radius and ulna in the left wing.

Our veternarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr DVM, pinned the bones back together and the patient is now in a recovery cage.

First on the gull’s to-do list after surgery? Fluff and preen those feathers to cover the wrap as neatly as possible. Second? Maybe think about the fish in the dish (once sure no fingers are available).

Go little gull!

Photos by Rebecca Duerr

X-ray-CA-Gull-2-2016

February 1, 2016

Patient of the Week: Great Egret Tangles With Octopus

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After treatment a lucky Great Egret recuperates at the Los Angeles center.

After treatment for a octopus bite, a lucky Great Egret recuperates at the Los Angeles center. Photo by IBR

This is the story of a Great Egret, an octopus, and a Good Samaritan.

Earlier this week, we received a new patient—a Great Egret who had suffered significant trauma to his left leg. We have, of course, seen a lot of birds with injured legs before; but what was different about this patient was how he’d sustained his injuries.

It seems the bird had an “altercation” with an octopus in view of a man who was fishing along the shore in San Pedro, California. When the fisherman realized that the bird and the octopus were entangled in a deadly struggle, he came to the rescue to separate the combatants. Despite the aggravated octopus turning his ire to the egret’s rescuer, the fisherman was ultimately able to bring the injured egret to us at our Los Angeles center.

Fortunately, the egret is now recovering. Octopuses have a toxin in their bite, and this bird has lacerations to its thigh, hock and foot joints where this could be a factor. Initial inflammation at the wounds is decreasing and the bird is standing and eating, but is having some trouble positioning his foot without a supportive wrap. Currently we aren’t certain if this is due to the lacerations or due to neurotoxin in the octopus’ bite.

We’ll never know which animal instigated the conflict, but we have hopes this egret will make it to release and have another go at having octopus for lunch!

The leg wound oin the Great Egret was treated and then vet wrapped to help heal. Photos by IBR

The leg wound on the Great Egret was treated and then vet wrapped to help heal. Photos by IBR

January 28, 2016

Record Year of Bird Patients in 2015

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Clean Surf Scoters, contaminated by Mystery Goo, were among the record number of birds cared for in 2015 . Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

2015 was an unusually big year for International Bird Rescue. We received a record number of injured and sick aquatic birds during all seasons and there was no “slow season” as we have had in previous years.

More than 6,000 birds – including those from a mystery goo event, a Santa Barbara oil spill, and a mass stranding of Common Murres – are included in the extraordinary increase in patient numbers at our two California wildlife centers, run in conjunction with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) at UC Davis on behalf of the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

“These increased numbers of birds, especially in Northern California, are concerning,” said JD Bergeron, Bird Rescue’s Executive Director, “and suggest that we may need to develop even more robust funding solutions to be able to keep up with the food and medication needs of these patients. We are concerned that aquatic birds may be facing graver challenges due to the longstanding drought, warming sea waters, violent El Niño storms, reduced habitat, and increased competition for food.

Oiled Brown Pelican treated during May 2015 Refugio Pipeline Spill.

Oiled Brown Pelican treated during May 2015 Refugio Pipeline Spill.

“On the bright side, our team of deeply dedicated staff and volunteers have been tireless in sustaining this ‘alert’ level of effort, coming in extra days and staying later in the evening to ensure that all our patients get the needed care. Further, we are immensely grateful to the thousands of individual, corporate, and foundation supporters who keep showing up to help fund our work. Every dollar helps us to help more birds. Together, we will continue to pursue our mission to mitigate the human impact on seabirds and other aquatic bird species.”

Of the total 6,083 patients, the San Francisco Bay Center had the highest number of birds: 4,372. Some of this can be attributed to the 300+ mystery goo birds (mainly Surf Scoters and assorted grebes) that were treated in January of last year and the more than 500 hungry and stranded Common Murres that flooded the center in Fairfield. Also 40 oiled seabirds were treated and washed in 2015.

At the Los Angeles Center the numbers totaled 1,554 for the year. Of those, 57 birds came in oiled from the Refugio oil pipeline break in May near Santa Barbara and ongoing natural oil seep along the Southern California coast.

January 24, 2016

Patients of the Week: Common Murres, once oiled now cleaned

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Cleaned of oil, Common Murres spend time in pelagic pools before being released from our San Francisco Bay center.

This week our patients of the week are oiled Common Murres. A handful of these seabirds from the Monterey/Santa Cruz area have been rescued and transported to the San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield.

The birds are coming with light to heavy oiling on their undersides. The petroleum source has yet to be identified.

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Common Murre during intake is photographed to document oiling. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

To clean the murres, our center staff and volunteers use a combination of methyl soyate (a methyl ester derived from soybean oil), DAWN dishwashing liquid, and high pressure shower wash to remove the oil from their feathers. After spending time regaining their natural water-proofing, the healthy murres are usually released into San Francisco Bay at Fort Baker near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Common Murres are diving birds that nest on high cliffs and spend most of their lives on the open water. The public will often spot these oiled birds along beaches at the tide line. At this point these birds are cold, hungry and tired from trying to preen the oil out of their feathers.

This species is has a hard time in past years with chronic oiling along the California coast from Santa Barbara to Northern California. Also a murre stranding was documented earlier this year from the central coast to Alaska. Thousands of birds are being affected and many ended up at our center in the fall of 2015.