Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

February 14, 2019

Seabirds Oiled By Natural Seep Along California Coast Flood Los Angeles Center

Russ Curtis

A Western Grebe oiled by natural seep is cleaned at the Los Angeles Wildlife Center. Photo: Bill Steinkamp

Since the beginning of 2019, more than 50 oiled seabirds coated in natural seep have been found stranded on beaches up and down the coast of California, from San Mateo County to Orange County.

The rescued birds are being washed and rehabilitated at our Los Angeles wildlife center. They include mainly Western Grebes, Clark’s Grebes, Red-throated Loons, and Surf Scoters. This influx of contaminated patients is not unusual. Each year in the fall and winter months Bird Rescue experiences an “Oiled Bird Season” as migrating birds pass through naturally occurring oil seeps. Read NOAA information: Natural Oil Seeps in Southern California

As a member organization of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network with a fully equipped state-of-the-art wash facility, Bird Rescue staff and volunteers are trained and ready to provide these patients with the specialized care that they need. While it is unfortunate any time a bird becomes oiled, these seasonal seep birds give us the chance to practice the techniques and procedures that would be used during a spill emergency. All animal care workers don appropriate personal protective equipment as they work to stabilize each oiled patient and eventually move them through wash, which is a long and taxing process for these birds.

“One of the most important things that people should understand about caring for oiled wildlife is that the wash is just a small portion of the overall work that needs to be done in order to successfully rehabilitate and release these birds back into the wild,” said Julie Skoglund, Bird Rescue’s Operations Manager.

Once they are adequately hydrated and nourished, each bird takes about 30-60 minutes to go through the four-step wash and rinse process. Afterwards it is moved to a specialized enclosure to dry off. Then begins the multi-day process of waterproofing: a labor-intensive effort on the part of both patient and staff. It involves extensive feather preening, several days of moving back and forth between pools and drying pens, frequent checkups, and additional spot washes as needed. Once the bird has completely re-established its waterproofing, it will remain in care until any additional injuries have been resolved and it has attained a healthy state.

We are thankful for our partner organizations, especially the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, for stabilizing and transferring many of these oiled birds to us.

So far this year, Bird Rescue has successfully released 3 oiled birds and 35 more remain in care. The Oiled Wildlife Care Network generously supports a portion of the cost for caring for these animals. To learn more about the Oiled Wildlife Care Network and their work with oil-affected wildlife, please visit https://owcn.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/

If you would like to contribute to the care of these birds, please donate today at https://www.bird-rescue.org/get-involved/donate

To report an oiled or injured animal, call the Oiled Wildlife Care Network hotline at (877) 823-6926.

Cleaned of oil, Western Grebes swim in one of the pelagic pools at the wildlife center in San Pedro, CA. Photo: Angie Trumbo/International Bird Rescue

February 5, 2019

All You Need Is Love: Valentine’s Day Gift Idea

Russ Curtis

Celebrate Valentine’s Day by symbolically adopting a pair of ducklings in honor of your special someone!

At International Bird Rescue, we are dedicated to rescuing waterbirds in crisis and inspiring people to act toward balance with the natural world and care for the home we share with wildlife. Your adoption will be a meaningful and fun way to celebrate this holiday with your loved one.

Please make a $15 donation here and you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for how to download and print your customizable Valentine’s Day e-card.

Whether you’re thinking of a dear friend, sibling, parent or sweetheart give the gift that makes a difference!

 

February 4, 2019

Patient of the Week: Guadalupe Murrelet

Angie Trumbo

This endangered Guadalupe Murrelet came into care was suffering from toe and hock lesions. Photos by Angie Trumbo

On January 6, a small, unusual bird was found stowing away on a boat bound for the Port of Los Angeles and was brought into our L.A. wildlife center for care. Little did the rescuer know that the bird he had found was an endangered Guadalupe Murrelet.

Guadalupe Murrelets were once considered the same species as Scripps’s Murrelets and lumped together under the species name Xantus’s Murrelet. In 2012, it was determined that the two were in fact distinct species with their own separate breeding populations. The Guadalupe Murrelet can be distinguished from the Scripps’s by the amount of white plumage on its face extending up and around the eye. These tiny auks are threatened by invasive species on their breeding islands off the coast of Baja as well as by the effects of climate change.

This is the first Guadalupe Murrelet we’ve ever had the opportunity and privilege to rehabilitate! Thankfully, the patient arrived in fairly good body condition but was suffering from toe and hock lesions. Our team closely monitored its condition over the course of two weeks and quickly fell in love with this little bird’s cute features and feisty attitude. The murrelet did well in care and spent most of its time in one of our outdoor pelagic pools where it could swim and dive alongside other smaller species such as Eared Grebes and Ruddy Ducks.

On Jan 25, our friends at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium carefully loaded this former patient onto their research boat and gave it an open ocean release, which allowed it to have a fresh start closer to its natural range. We were sad to see this little murrelet go, but are thrilled to have helped a member of an endangered species recover and return to its home in the wild!

We are grateful to supporters like you that make it possible for us to respond when birds like this little murrelet are in crisis. If you would like to help us continue this work, please consider donating today.

Guadalupe Murrelet gets some swim time in just before being released in late January.

January 1, 2019

2018 By the Numbers

Russ Curtis

Species Treated: 97

2018 was a great year for expanding our knowledge surrounding some of our less common patients. Between our two California wildlife centers, Bird Rescue cared for 97 different species of aquatic birds! Some of our unique species this year include: Belted Kingfisher, Long-tailed Duck, Pelagic Cormorant, Black-vented Shearwater, Rhinoceros Auklet and both Brown and Red-footed Booby.

Washing Birds: 100

Even in the absence of a major oil spill, our staff and volunteers still wash birds throughout the year. Some of these birds arrive oiled from the natural seep off of the coast of Ventura, others come in contaminated by other substances such as vegetable or motor oil. In 2018 we washed over 100 birds ranging from Great Horned Owls to Brown Pelicans. Working with these cases of individual oiled birds allows us to improve our skills and training so that our team remains ready to respond in the event that a spill does occur.

Total Birds: 3,000+

Between our SF Bay-Delta wildlife center in Fairfield and our L.A. wildlife center in San Pedro, we cared for over 3,000 patients in 2018. While we do care for a broad range of species, there are some types of birds that come into our care most frequently as a result of various forms of urban/wildlife conflict. Orphaned ducks, geese, herons, and egrets flood our centers during the baby bird season when their nests have been disturbed, or when they have been separated from their parents. Gulls, pelicans, and cormorants are some of the birds we see most frequently injured due to fishing line entanglement or hook ingestion. Grebes come into care almost daily during the winter months that have become oiled due to natural seep on their journey south for the winter.

Volunteer Hours: 20,000+

Our team of dedicated volunteers are what make this work possible. Together they put in over 20,000 hours of work over the course of 2018. From bird care, feeding and cleaning to education, outreach and administrative assistance, our volunteers do it all with smiles on their faces. Thank you so much to each and every person who volunteers their time and efforts to help rescue waterbirds in crisis! If you would like to volunteer at either of our California wildlife centers, you can learn more and apply HERE.

Birds Released: 1267

Our favorite number from this year: 1267. That is the number of birds successfully released or transferred in 2018. This is the reason we do the work that we do. There is nothing quite like watching a wild bird return to its natural home in good health and full strength. We hope that these moments and images inspire you to take action every day to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves.

 

December 31, 2018

Littlest Brown Pelican Is 2018 Bird of the Year!

Russ Curtis

We are proud to announce our 2018 Bird of the Year: The Littlest Brown Pelican! With many strong candidates, the race remained close right up to the end, but our little Brown Pelican captured the hearts of many and garnered the most votes.

Her story began when she was rescued out of a backyard pond where she had been found, starving, and trying to feed on koi fish. This little Brown was one of more than 50 hungry Brown Pelicans to come into care at our L.A. wildlife center during the month of May. What set this patient apart from the others was her small size.

Initially weighing in at just under 2500 grams, this tiny pelican quickly became a staff and volunteer favorite, and much care and attention was given to get her feeding on her own. Once she started gaining weight and thermoregulating, we moved her to our large pelican aviary to give her space to stretch her wings and exercise. While there, she spent most of her time at the side of a very large American White Pelican. The two were an odd, but very cute pair.

On June 13th, 2018 this little Brown Pelican returned to her natural home in the wild – an event that was shared with viewers across California on local news stations. She was given a blue band with the numbers N00 at release, so keep an eye out for this little pelican and report any sightings of her or our other blue banded pelicans on our website.

This Little Brown Pelican is a beautiful representative of the difference Bird Rescue can make by being ready to respond to any crisis. Whether it’s a surge of starving birds, a botulism outbreak, or an oil spill, Bird Rescue is here to take action to rescue waterbirds in need. We look forward to continuing to take action for birds in 2019.

If you would like to help us stand at the ready to rescue waterbirds in crisis, consider donating today!

Photos by Angie Trumbo

December 28, 2018

Vet Files: Innovative Treatment Saves Bufflehead With Bill Fractures

Dr. Rebecca Duerr

Female Bufflehead with multiple fractures of the bill after surgery to place pins and epoxy in place for its fractured mandible. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

Fast-setting epoxy was used to hold six tiny pins placed in both sides of this lady Bufflehead’s jaw. Photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr/International Bird Rescue

Our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, had to think creatively when a female Bufflehead came into care with multiple fractures of the bill. Buffleheads are North America’s smallest diving duck and this one weighed in at only 260g on arrival, making this patient’s injuries particularly difficult to treat.

The bones in her mandibles were very small, so Dr. Duerr decided to miniaturize a technique she had used successfully in the past on bigger bird bills. She placed angled pins into the bill on either side of each fracture through a piece of specialized bandage, which acts as a gasket between bill and epoxy. The pins were then embedded in quick-setting epoxy to hold them in place. Since this Bufflehead’s small bill was broken in so many spots, Dr. Duerr had to use very fine needles as pins and take extreme care when embedding them in epoxy so as to not make the apparatus too heavy for the little bird. It was then a matter of waiting to see how well this duck’s broken bones would heal.

Another big concern for this bird was her species. Buffleheads have very delicate feet that are not built for standing around like a mallard. Their toe skin can easily become damaged by being out of the water, which puts them at risk for tendon and bone problems. For this reason, we typically try to get patients like this one living in the water full time as soon as possible, even though orthopedic pins are not generally advisable to soak in water due to the risk of infection. In balancing the best approach to her recovery we decided her prognosis for a good outcome would be to let her swim in the pool despite the pins in her bill.

The pins holding her mouth together didn’t slow this Bufflehead down one bit! She spent almost two weeks swimming around in one of our outdoor pools, seemingly uninhibited by her unique apparatus. Once the pins were removed, the holes healed up quickly and she was soon ready for release. Thanks to the clever treatment and attentive care she received from the staff and volunteers at Bird Rescue, this resilient little Bufflehead returned to her natural home in the wild, just 26 days after she had been admitted.

After the pins were removed, the holes healed up quickly and the Bufflehead was soon released. Photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr/International Bird Rescue

December 14, 2018

Bird of the Year 2018 – Voting Now Open!

Russ Curtis

As another eventful year at International Bird Rescue comes to a close, the time has come to reflect on our experiences and accomplishments and select our 2018 Bird of the Year. Each bird that comes through our doors gives us the opportunity to take action, help a creature in need, and oft times learn something new about nature and about ourselves. The six candidates below are patients that were representative of significant events and key aspects of our mission from the past year. Please enjoy reading a bit about each one and if you have a moment, vote for the bird that most inspires you to take action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves.

Vote Here: https://goo.gl/forms/5Ba367n6DUoY176K2

#1 – Camp Fire Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan. Photo by Isabel Luevano

When wildfires tore through California causing devastation to people and wildlife alike, Bird Rescue was able to lend a helping hand when a Tundra Swan was found in crisis near ground zero of the Camp Fire. A local resident delivered the bird to a nearby rescue facility who later transferred the swan to our SF-Bay Delta wildlife center where it could recover in our large pools and waterfowl enclosures. Upon arrival the swan was covered with ash, smelled of smoke, and was suffering from red, irritated eyes due to the smoke and fire. Swans are large and unruly patients, so our staff and volunteers had to put in extra time and work to care for this bird. After two weeks at our facility, the Tundra Swan was healthy and ready for release. Our team picked out a location where a flock of migrating swans had recently been sighted and released the swan to continue on its southward journey for the winter.

#2 – Mara the Murre

Common Murre

Throughout this summer, Bird Rescue received a large influx of young, hungry Common Murres that had been found stranded along Northern California beaches. Among them was a young murre we named “Mara” after the volunteer who rescued her from the shore. Bird Rescue staff and volunteers were all-hands-on-deck for weeks as we strove to keep up with these hungry and growing birds. We were truly inspired by our community of supporters that came together to help fund the care of all these birds in need. After over a month in our care, Mara and dozens of her fellow murres were released back to the wild.

 

#3 – The Littlest Pelican

Brown Pelican. Photo by Angie Trumbo

California Brown Pelicans caught the attention of national media when two young pelicans crash landed at a Pepperdine graduation ceremony. This was the beginning of a sudden influx of injured and emaciated Brown Pelicans to our two California wildlife centers. One particular young female pelican quickly stole the hearts of our staff and volunteers alike. She was found in a backyard pond attempting to feed on koi fish. Weighing in at just 2480g (~5.5lbs) on arrival, she was by far the smallest pelican that came into care. When she was finally strong enough to move to an outdoor enclosure, she spent all day standing right next to the American White Pelican in care, further accentuating her small size. On June 13th, after gaining over 1000g (2.2lbs), this beautiful little pelican was released back to the wild, to the delight of media and public spectators.

#4 – Baby Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher. Photo by CherylReynolds

In a Bird Rescue first, this baby Belted Kingfisher was raised from a hatchling to release! Having never cared for such a young kingfisher before, our staff had to constantly learn and innovate in order to provide for this unique patient’s needs. A special “burrow” was created using towels to mimic this little one’s natural nest, and volunteers and staff had to disguise themselves as adult Belted Kingfishers at feeding time to prevent the young kingfisher from becoming attached to humans. All of that work paid off as the baby kingfisher grew up healthy and strong and was released after a month in our care.

 

#5 – Traveling Brown Booby

Brown Booby. Photo by Katrina Plummer

Found looking bedraggled on a beach in Oregon, this adorable Brown Booby made quite the journey to get to our L.A. wildlife center. Our friends at the Oregon Coast Aquarium flew him down to us via Alaska Airlines where he was picked up at LAX by our Center Manager. Our team was delighted to care for this unique patient as he built up weight and strength. After just a couple of weeks, the booby was in great condition and ready to be released. We are so happy to have partners like the Oregon Coast Aquarium who work with us to get birds like this Brown Booby the care they need in the place where they need it.

#6 – Rescued Green Heron

Green Heron. Photo by Katrina Plummer

This young Green Heron exemplifies the good that can happen when just one person takes action. A concerned member of the public found this little heron after it had fallen into a pond. Too young to get out on its own, the bird would have drowned had this gentleman not intervened. He gathered it up and kept the heron safe and warm in proper housing until he was able to bring it to our wildlife center. The little Green Heron was able to grow up alongside several other orphaned herons and egrets and was successfully release back to the wild at the end of September. Every bird that comes into care has a rescuer behind them, and we are so grateful to the individuals who jump into action on behalf of wildlife to get them the help that they need.

Vote Here: https://goo.gl/forms/5Ba367n6DUoY176K2

December 10, 2018

Patient of the Week: Black-crowned Night-Heron

Russ Curtis

With the fishing hook safely removed, the Black-crowned Night-Heron after recovery will be released back to the wild.

One fishing hook can make dinner miserable for any bird.

This month our veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr performed surgery on a beautiful Black-crowned Night-Heron at our Los Angeles Wildlife Center. The heron had ingested a hook which became lodged in its stomach tissue. During surgery Dr. Duerr created a small incision and was able to carefully remove the hook and stitch up the heron.

The patient is doing well and recuperating in one of our outdoor enclosures. We wish it a swift recovery!

X-ray shows fishing hook in Heron.

Black-crowned Night-Heron recuperating in the outdoor aviary.

December 4, 2018

Safe and Sound: Earthquake Spares Alaska Wildlife Response Center

Russ Curtis

Our Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC) in Anchorage was mainly unharmed by 7.0 earthquake that struck November 30, 2018. (Photos by Michelle Bellizzi/International Bird Rescue)

Last week’s 7.0 earthquake in Alaska is a reminder for all of us to be as prepared as we can be for any emergency.

Broken glass on a framed poster.

While the city of Anchorage was waking up on the dark, frosty morning of Friday, November 30th, the area experienced a major quake that hit at around 8:30 AM. The epicenter was just 10 miles outside the city center and it was immediately apparent that this was a major event causing significant infrastructure damage to the area and impacting the population of the largest city in the state. (CNN report)

After checking in with our families, friends, responders and clients in the area to make sure they were safe, we were able to dispatch a team member to assess the Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC) building. Our staff member Michelle Bellizzi arrived on-site on Monday and discovered very minor damage. Some photos had fallen off walls and there were some cracks in the walls. Overall the center is in good shape.

We are thankful and relieved that our friends and clients in Alaska are all safe at this point, and we’ve let them know we’re standing by in case of need. The Alaska Pipeline was briefly shut down as well to assess for any damage. It was declared safe and is now back in operation. We have received word that the marine terminals in Valdez are without any major damage as well.

Significant road damage: The Minnesota Dr. airport off-ramp buckled by the quake in Anchorage. (Photo: Nat Herz/AED)

While this was a major earthquake event, we are proud to be a small part of Alaska’s emergency response plan. Our hats are off to the incredible resiliency and can-do attitude that is the essence of our Alaskan neighbors.

This natural disaster is a good reminder for all of us to be prepared in an emergency:

• Have an emergency kit with enough water for 3 days, sturdy shoes, and warm clothes for each member of your household.

• Know where shut-off valves are for gas, water, and electricity in your home and office, and know how to shut off utilities if you are able.

• Keep cell phones charged, and have an emergency contact outside of your area that can make calls/coordinate support for you and yours from off-site.

• Have a pre-identified muster spot for far-flung family members to regroup.

Keep safe out there, because the birds need you!

Inside the Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC) post-earthquake.

 

December 1, 2018

New Board Member: Dr. Maria K. Hartley

Russ Curtis

Maria K. Hartley, PhD

International Bird Rescue is pleased to welcome Dr. Maria K. Hartley to its Board of Directors.

Dr. Hartley brings a wealth of experience to the Bird Rescue’s board as the global technical lead in Chevron’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response. She is also the assistant lead of Chevron’s Environmental Functional Team responsible for providing technical specialists to address environmental issues during potential oil spills and other emergencies. She has been with Chevron since 2009.

Maria has supported oil spill response in Chevron for 8 years, responding both domestically and internationally. Prior to this role, she developed and implemented Chevron’s industry leading environmental standards and processes worldwide, such as ESHIA (environmental, social, health impact assessment) and the Natural Resources Environmental Performance Standard and led permitting initiatives for Chevron’s major international capital projects. In addition, she advises on biodiversity and endangered species issues and advocacy.

Maria also volunteered her expertise to the Red Cross assisting and supporting disaster assessment. Receiving both her Doctorate and Masters of ecology from Rice University, she is now an Adjunct Assistant Professor, teaching Ecosystem Management at Rice, and elected member on the Board of Affiliates for the Professional Master’s Program and on the Advisory Board of the School of Natural Sciences. Maria is a British citizen, currently residing in Houston, Texas.

Bird Rescue’s ten-member board is integral in supporting the mission “to inspire people to act toward balance with the natural world by rescuing waterbirds in crisis”, providing fiduciary oversight, and overall support to all aspects of the organization’s growth and impact.

 

November 29, 2018

Thank You For Helping Us Reach Our #GivingTuesday Goal!

Russ Curtis


We reached our Giving Tuesday goal!!!

Thank you so much to all of our donors and to Chevron El Segundo and Phillips 66 for their matching gifts. We hit our goal of $30,000 for #GivingTuesday.

Your contributions will go a long way toward rescuing waterbirds in crisis over the coming year.

November 27, 2018

Every gift MATCHED! Help a bird today!

Russ Curtis

Giving Tuesday is here!!

Our #GivingTuesday campaign launched at midnight and we have only 24 hours to reach our $30,000 goal! We are thrilled that our corporate partners at Phillips 66 and Chevron El Segundo have pledged to MATCH the first $10,000 of gifts today, doubling YOUR impact!

Since our founding in 1971, we’ve given over 100,000 birds a second chance, and we could not do this without the strong support of generous individuals like you. Donate today by visiting our website or call us at 707-207-0380 x100.

Help us spread the word! Head over to our Facebook page and share the reason why you support International Bird Rescue! #GivingTuesday #YearoftheBird

Thank you!

The International Bird Rescue Team

November 20, 2018

Show Your Love Of Wildlife On #GivingTuesday November 27, 2018

Russ Curtis

Giving Tuesday is just around the corner, so let us come together to save the birds! Watch the video above to see why we do what we do!

Merganser chick. Photo by Suzi Eszterhas

We’ve set a big goal for #GivingTuesday at International Bird Rescue. This year we aim to raise $30,000 to support waterbird rescue and rehabilitation at our two California wildlife hospitals. We are thrilled to share that two of our corporate partners have pledged to MATCH your Giving Tuesday donations!

DONATE NOW

The annual Giving Tuesday is an opportunity for non-profits to gather support and join together with community members for a day of maximum impact. Reaching our goal will help us feed birds in care, provide life-saving medical care, keep our pools clean and filled, and help us share our work with as many people as possible. We hope you’ll join us and help inspire others to take action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves.

NEXT Tuesday, November 27, 2018 please help us reach our Giving Tuesday goal for the birds!

Busy next week? You can donate now and we will process your gift and count it towards our #GivingTuesday goal!

From all of us at International Bird Rescue, thank you for your support!

November 19, 2018

New Annual Report Available For Download

Russ Curtis

We are pleased to announce International Bird Rescue’s latest Annual Report is available for download.

Read compelling, inspiring stories and acknowledge the magic of the courageous actions that started Bird Rescue and keep it going today.

We are also very proud to share with supporters our new mission and vision:

Misson
To inspire people to act toward balance with the natural world by rescuing waterbirds in crisis.

Vision
We dream of a world in which every person, every day, takes action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves.

“The shift to a broader mission statement allows us room to grow and clarifies what we do now. Our new vision motivates people to action and has been a pivot point for an immediate internal shift,” says JD Bergeron, Executive Director at Bird Rescue.

November 16, 2018

New Board Member: Dr. Ian Robinson

Russ Curtis

Dr. Ian Robinson

International Bird Rescue is pleased to welcome Dr. Ian Robinson, a wildlife veterinarian and experienced response professional, to its Board of Directors.

Dr. Robinson received his veterinary degree from the University of Bristol, UK, in 1975 and the diploma of Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (UK) in 2006. After a spell in general practice he joined the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in 1990, to establish the Norfolk Wildlife Hospital, which treated over 6,000 wildlife patients annually.

In 2003 he joined the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), moving to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In 2006 Dr. Robinson rose to the position of Vice President for Animal Welfare and Conservation before retiring in 2016. As part of his involvement in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation, Dr. Robinson has attended many oil spills, wildlife emergencies and disaster responses globally.

Bird Rescue’s ten-member board is integral in supporting the mission “to inspire people to act toward balance with the natural world by rescuing waterbirds in crisis”, providing fiduciary oversight, and overall support to all aspects of the organization’s growth and impact.