Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

November 27, 2019

Patient of the Month: Laysan Albatross

Angie Trumbo

A Laysan Albatross that arrived into care at our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center is our patient of the month. The bird was originally found at Marina State Beach and transferred to us by our friends at Monterey Bay SPCA.

After stabilization, the Laysan Albatross had its dirty feathers washed. Photos and video by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

On arrival, the albatross was alarmingly underweight, very anemic, weak, and dehydrated. The intake exam found multiple wounds and swelling on the birds feet and that the patient was unable to stand. The bird is very small in stature for a Laysan Albatross, so is likely a female. She had two discrete abscesses at the bottom of her painful foot, hence we started her on antibiotics and pain medications. After several days of intensive care, the bird was strong enough for us to treat her foot abscesses and take radiographs to check for skeletal or internal abnormalities. Our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, reviewed the radiographs and had a few important findings: the abscesses thankfully did not appear to involve the bones of the foot joint, plus she had two fractures, one of the tibiotarsus (the longest of the 3 leg bone in birds) literally at the knee and another fracture of the fibula. Bloodwork showed her to have substantial muscle damage and an elevated white blood cell count.

In the last few weeks she has made remarkable progress, going from 1359 grams to ~2000 grams. Her leg is still weak and the fractures have been slow to heal, but the foot abscesses have resolved. The anemia has largely resolved, and she has transitioned to living in a large outdoor pool during the day, and indoors at night in a beach-like sand-bottom pen. In the pool, our staff created a submerged “island” for this special patient, giving her a place to float with the weight off her leg while being able to stand in a semi-supported way. At night she can rest on sand like she would if she were on an island.

The albatross’ improvement these past few weeks has been amazing to see, and has been driven by our staff’s constant communication and shifting care decisions that keep her moving in the right direction towards recovery. Although she is not out of the woods yet and our vet has concerns about her ability to eventually walk comfortably considering the nature of the knee injury, her improvement so far has been remarkable. We hope this beautiful bird continues to heal and will soon be able to return to her natural home in the wild!

If you would like to support this bird’s care, please consider a donation to Bird Rescue.

 

November 14, 2019

Barbara Callahan Honored With Oil Spill Task Force’s 2019 Legacy Award

Russ Curtis

Barbara Callahan in action – leading a wildlife response training. Photo by Ken Wilson, APSC

Barbara Callahan of International Bird Rescue was honored this week with a 2019 Legacy Award by the Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force. Barbara is Bird Rescue’s Senior Director of Response Services. She was recognized for her sustained excellence in devoting more than 25 years of her life to oiled wildlife response and for her leadership role at many of the major oil spills throughout the world.

The Legacy Awards honor individuals and organizations that successfully implement exemplary oil spill prevention, preparedness, or response projects. We define such exemplary projects as successful efforts that go beyond regulatory requirements to prevent, prepare for, or respond to oil spills.

The award was presented at the Oil Spill Task Force‘s annual meeting on November 13, 2019 in Bellingham, Washington.

Barbara Callahan has spent more than 25 years as a leader in wildlife oil spill response.

Barbara has a wealth of international experience working in the emergency wildlife response and management. She received her B. S. in Biological Science from the University of Alaska. She has worked in oiled wildlife response, response management and rehabilitation of aquatic animals over the course of 20 years and is certified in Federal Emergency Management.

Since 1997 she has been the Response Services Director at Bird Rescue and has held the position of Bird Unit Deputy Leader in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010; the Incident Command Wildlife Coordinator for the Rena Spill in New Zealand in 2011; and has been the on-scene coordinator in numerous other national and international spill events.

Barbara has authored multiple papers on seabird rehabilitation and oil spill response. She has also nationally and internationally presented at wildlife and other conferences.

Barbara Callahan working during the 2000 Treasure Oil Spill response in South Africa. Photo by Jon Hrusa – IFAW

November 12, 2019

People Who Care

Russ Curtis

In this new video meet some of International Bird Rescue’s dedicated wildlife rehabilitation staff and volunteers who act every day on behalf of sick, injured and orphaned wild animals.

Our mission is to inspire people to act toward balance with the natural world by rescuing waterbirds in crisis.

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

It all began in 1971 after 800,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the bay, concerned individuals led by a registered nurse named Alice Berkner jumped into action, bringing International Bird Rescue (“Bird Rescue”) to life. We have always had to pave a road where there is none. Staff and volunteers work with tenacity alongside clients, partners, and the public to find solutions.

Today, we research best practices at our crisis response hospitals in California and Alaska and share them worldwide.

 

November 8, 2019

A Bird Lovers Night Of Generosity & Masquerade Fun

Russ Curtis

Attendees strike a pose with their Night-Heron Masquerade masks at a Bird Rescue fundraising event in San Francisco. Photo by Gary Wagner

Shirl Simpson, left, the Branch Manager of the U.S. Post Office in downtown Oakland, CA with JD Bergeron, International Bird Rescue’s Executive Director. Photo by Gary Wagner

The Night Heron Masquerade was a huge success and we are proud to announce that event raised over $80,000! The October 26, 2019 event was filled to capacity as 150 attendees cam to support International Bird Rescue’s ongoing wildlife programs.

Thank you so much to all of those who attended and who donated, and a special thank you to our event sponsors and silent auction donors. We had a fantastic time celebrating with such a fun group of supporters, staff and volunteers. Each attendee took home a bird mask of their choice and a poster from the event in San Francisco.

Shirl Simpson, the Branch Manager, of the U.S. Post Office in downtown Oakland, CA was given special recognition for her efforts in helping support the Oakland Heronry Rescue. Nearly a hundred birds, Black-crowned Night-Herons and Snowy Egrets were rescued after a tree snapped in front of the post office sending baby birds and their nests tumbling to the sidewalk.

A big thank you also to Gary Wagner Photography for the great attendee photos, to Tony Corman & Laura Klein for providing the live music, and to Michael Warner for creating the event artwork!

Executive Director JD Bergeron was master of ceremonies. Photo by Russ Curtis–International Bird Rescue

Handmade bird masks were handed out to each attendee. The masks were created by volunteer artists. Photo by Gary Wagner

November 5, 2019

Photographers in Focus: Rory Merry

Russ Curtis

Margo Pellegrino rescues a cormorant suffering from Domoic Acid poisoning at Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove, CA. Later the stricken bird was picked up by the Monterey SPCA and transferred to our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center.

In this latest Photographers in Focus feature, we are delighted to highlight photographer Rory Merry from Pacific Grove, California. Rory’s work came to our attention after we saw his dramatic photo of a Margo Pellegrino, who was visiting the area from New Jersey, as she waded into the Monterey Bay surf to rescue a stricken cormorant.

Born in Ireland, Rory is a professional photographer and world traveler and has been capturing people, wildlife, and events for nearly 60 years. He is represented by the Zuma Press photo agency.

We hope you enjoy all his photographs of the extraordinary beauty of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its wildlife inhabitants.

Question: The photo of the women rescuing the cormorant is pretty amazing. What’s the story behind that image?

Answer: I was taking my usual morning walk along the coast by Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove, when I noticed five or six people off of the path on a rock outcrop looking down at the rocks below. As I got closer, I saw a woman climbing over the rocks.

Margo Pellegrino waded into ocean at Asilomar State Beach to rescue a sick cormorant infected with Domoic Acid.

I thought to myself that it was another collector. “Oh no, not another collector.” Then I saw something splashing in the water some distance from the shore. I could not make out what was going on with the naked eye, so I looked through my camera’s 300mm lens. At first I thought it was a cormorant and a sea otter fighting it out.

In the meantime, this woman was climbing out over the rocks and then into the cold water up to her waist. She kept going out further and further until she finally reached the splashing. By then I realized that the woman (Margo Pellegrino) was on her way to rescue a cormorant that was in serious distress suffering from Domoic Acid poisoning.

She was pretty far out and well above her waist in the cold water of the Northern California Coast. She was wearing only a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Meanwhile the cormorant was floundering around. She finally reached the cormorant, grabbed the bird and started to make her way back to shore. She chose a different route back to shore. It looked like to me like a passageway between rocks where I feared she would run into deep water. All the time I was taking images not in continuous sequential shooting mode, but one frame at a time as I saw the story unfold.

The cormorant was later transferred to Bird Rescue where it unfortunately had to be humanely euthanized because of its severe neurotoxin poisoning.

Suddenly she was in deeper water, hence the splash in the photo. I got it. Of course, she could not use her hands for balance because she was holding to the cormorant. She was actually hugging the bird for dear life. She never let go of the cormorant and finally reached shallower waters. The total sequence is made up of 59 frames. In frames 40 to 51, Margo is actually smiling. No doubt because she realizes she has actually saved the cormorant and herself included. Mind you, she is still up to her waist in water in frame 40.

See: Monterey Herald story: Woman saves cormorant with domoic acid poisoning at Asilomar State Beach

The images were shot with a Nikon D800E with 300mm AF 300mm f/4 ED. Sadly, it’s not a Vibration Reduction (VR) lens. I processed the RAW images in Nikon Capture NX2 with no manipulation and no color enhancement; just processing as per the World Press Photo Competition Rules.

Normally, I would shoot with a Nikon D4s and a Nikon 300 mm 2.8 VR. However, I had decided to sell my 2.8 to pay for my last photo adventure. I was not actually shooting anything that required a 300mm anyway. Due to being evicted from my apartment in Berkeley, I came to live in my house in Pacific Grove. Walking along the shoreline every day, I realized I really needed at least a 300mm to shoot wildlife. I found just such a lens on Ebay for $145. The seller said it had dust and fungus. It also had an aperture ring issue, which I repaired with dental floss.

Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus) dance across the sand.

Q: How did you get your start in photography?

A: My father was a magazine publisher and thought all the photographers could not take a decent photograph, so he bought himself a Rolleiflex TLR Zeiss Tessar 1:3.5/75. This was in Ireland. I was ten years old. He bought me Kodak Brownie, which is a basic box camera made of thick, leatherette-covered cardboard introduced in 1911 by Eastman Kodak. The camera shot film 2 1/2 x 4 1/4 size negatives.

This was great as my father also bought me a photo printing set for my birthday. It was a simple set with a frame for holding the negative and photo paper to make a contact print the size of the negative. This is the same as the processes used today for printing digital negatives on photographic paper to make silver gelatin prints.

In 1958 when we went to Belgium to the Brussels World’s Fair where I photographed a model of the Sputnik space capsule in the Russian pavilion. I eventually got my father’s Rolleiflex and just kept on photographing. My first professional photo was published in 1969.

Short-billed Dowitcher’s (Limnodromus griseus) in flight.

Q: What’s are some of the challenges you face in your bird and nature photography in general?

A: I like to shoot without a tripod whether it is birds in nature, portraits or whatever, so holding the camera steady (or cellphone for that matter) is always an issue AND really the most important part of photographic technique. All camera manufacturers including Nikon, Sony, and Cannon have spent millions of dollars perfecting some form of Vibration Reduction (VR) technology to reduce camera shake. Nobody wants a blurred photograph, at least not too often.

I also shoot on manual mode, so forgetting to change my setting from one scene to the next is an issue.

Getting close to my subject without disturbing the creature in nature photography is always difficult. Whatever I do, I don’t want to disturb the creature or bird. It is fine if the bird is conscious of my presence, but that’s it. I shoot what is see as I come across the situation. I walk. I don’t sit in a blind hide out waiting for the shot. I go about my daily life and shoot whatever interests me. Obviously, I do cover situations where my presence is preplanned, but with birds or nature photography it is all up to the birds.

Q: We know great photography is more than big name brand equipment. But that being said, what lens could you not live without and why?

A: Well, that is a good question all right. The issue of being close enough to your subject is always critical no matter if it birds, bees or humans. You really need a minimum of a 300mm lens for bird or any nature photography. Sometimes I use a 1.7 Teleconverter with a 300mm lens this make the lens 510mm. However, a 1.7x teleconverter will lose 1 1⁄2 stops of light making the effective wide aperture f/4.5, which is not bad for a well-lit subject. To be honest, I have shot bees with a 105mm macro f2.8 and even a 14-24mm f2.8. I am always experimenting.

The eyes of a Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus).

Q: If you could give beginning nature photographers just one (or two) bit of advice, what would it be?

A: Don’t disturb the birds or animals you photograph. Since I shoot in the open, the birds do see me, but I keep my distance. A lot of my shots are action, so the birds will be flying by keeping an eye on me. Don’t be fooled. The wildlife has its eye on you.

Always carry your camera, keep the camera steady, the lens cap off and the lens hood on the correct way. One day you will get the shot of a lifetime.

Q: What bird photo projects are you working on in the future?

A: I am always trying to get shots of birds in flight, hence no tripod. I like nature in action. One shot I am after is from a boat. You know the way the pelicans and cormorants fly along just above the waves. The pelicans use the updraft from the waves to save their energy. Well, I want to be right there with them as they come towards me, pass by and glide away. The pelicans fly so close to the waves that their outer most feather sometimes touch the water. I got that shot once from the beach, but the image was not crystal sharp. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

Q: Who is one of your favorite photographers?

A: Richard Avedon

Q: How has working in nature enhanced your life?

A: When I walk along the Pacific Ocean in Monterey Bay during the mornings, I see the most beautiful sights on the planet. I see pelicans and cormorants flying in formation, vultures circling around waiting for breakfast, deer grazing, gulls fighting over pieces of food, Snowy Plovers dancing in unison in and out of the surf, rabbits hopping along, deer mice peeping out of their homes, egrets standing on kelp half a mile out in the ocean, Sea Otters lounging around in the kelp, and Sea Lions popping their heads out of the ocean for a quick look around and take a breath of fresh ocean air. I hear the sound of the waves crashing in the rocks.

Black Oystercatcher foraging for food.

When one looks at all this going on around you, all of one’s troubles go away. The images fill one’s mind like the feathers at the end of a pelicans’ wings for precise flying. Sea lions can see above and below water. Cormorants can see above and under water too. They can fly, swim and walk on land. Nature doing what nature does.

When I pick up my camera and put it to my eye, I only see the images in the viewfinder. No thoughts in my mind. I am in the present and experience a Zen clarity of mind. No mind. Just like nature itself.

When on live in the city, which I did for 40 years, one does not see nature. One is divorced from it.

I have always loved nature of that there is no doubt, but now that I see nature in the wild every day, I am adamant about preserving and protecting it.

I am featured here because of my photographs of a cormorant rescue. To be that close to a wild bird was an honor. When I process my images, I get to see them big and in detail on my computer screen in every detail: eyes, claws and individual feathers. When I see the creature again, all of sudden I am flying with the Pelicans gliding along with the flock up and over the waves, flapping my wings, zipping along at 35 miles per hour and skimming over the ocean with my friends, the cormorants. I talk to the sparrows as they fly around the sand dunes of Asilomar State Beach, “How are you this morning, Mr. Sparrow?” I am a part of nature.

Graceful beauty of two California Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) in flight.

California Brown Pelican skims the water in Monterey Bay.

Deer forage for food at water’s edge at Monterey Bay.

All photos © Rory Merry

October 5, 2019

Patient of the Week: Brown Pelican With Severe Torn Pouch Undergoes Surgery

Russ Curtis

An adult female Brown Pelican with a severely torn pouch was admitted into care at the International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center in San Pedro on Sept 20, 2019. The bird’s pouch was laid open on both sides up and back onto her neck, completely cut loose from the rest of her mouth. Although she survived the initial injury, she was starving to death because she was unable to eat.

Your donation makes our work possible with pelicans like this

Luckily, rescuers found the pelican and brought her to our friends at Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network who then transferred her over to us where she could undergo surgery to repair her pouch.

The cause of this bird’s injuries are currently unknown, but it appears that her pouch must have been caught on something that necessitated ripping to get loose. Fishing gear is such a common problem in this species that our suspicion is that she got caught on a hook.

Despite the severity of this bird’s wounds, our successes with past patients with similar injuries, like Pink the Pelican, give us confidence for a positive outcome for this patient. Our veteranarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, spent 2.5 hours repairing the worst of the injuries to the middle and right side of her pouch and neck. The bird was so weak that Dr Duerr decided to leave the left side for later repair rather than putting her through another 1+ hour of surgery. Consequently, the left side is stapled closed right now, and a second procedure will be scheduled soon, after she has regained her strength.

Stay tuned for more updates on this critical patient!

Brown Pelican in first surgery for torn pouch: Dr Rebecca Duerr, Julie Skoglund and Kylie Clatterbuck working in wildlife center in Los Angeles. Photo by Angie Trumbo

October 1, 2019

Your Bird Mask Awaits You At The Night-Heron Masquerade Party On Oct 26th

Russ Curtis

Party goers will be able to choose from a selection of free hand-painted masks at the Night-Heron Masquerade Party on Saturday, October 26th in San Francisco.

Dear friends,

You are invited to join us for the biggest Bird Rescue celebration of the year!

We are throwing a glamorous Night-Heron Masquerade on the beautiful Ohana Floor of Salesforce East in San Francisco to commemorate and support our ongoing work rescuing and rehabilitating San Francisco Bay Area birds. Buy Tickets

Date: Saturday, October 26, 2019
Time: 5:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.
Address: 350 Mission Street, San Francisco CA 94103
Tickets: $150 – $195 (Early Bird special ends on Oct 14th)
**Cocktail attire suggested. Hand-made masks will be provided!

The Masquerade will feature delicious vegetarian flavors, an open bar, amazing auction items, professional photographers, and a variety of fun opportunities to celebrate our work and the birds that we care for. What better way to start your Halloween weekend celebrations or spend a classy, uplifting evening?!

Spread the word – share the event on Facebook!

Please note: the deadline to register for this event is Tuesday, October 22nd. Full name and email address are required for all attendees and guests. A government-issued photo ID that matches your registered name is required at the entrance. Unfortunately, Salesforce does not allow day-of additions ahead of the event.

 

September 9, 2019

Team Yes We Peli-CAN! With Community Support, Conquers the Bridge Once Again

Russ Curtis

On Labor Day 45 members of Team Yes We Peli-CAN! participated in the annual Conquer the Bridge Race in San Pedro, CA.

Bird Rescue supporters in right blue team shirts could be spotted on two iconic California bridges on Labor Day, September 2, 2019.

Team sponsors included Chevron and Bakeology.

In San Pedro, 45 members of  Team Yes We Peli-CAN! walked and ran over the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the 11th annual Conquer the Bridge Race. This community event, part of the region’s Fleet Week celebration, draws thousands of participants and offers the perfect opportunity for Bird Rescue to raise awareness of the birds that share our local habitat and the work that we do for them.

At the same time, volunteers from our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center and their mascot dog, Finnegan, walked together over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in support of the team’s efforts. “I was thrilled to see so many members of our Bird Rescue family united, here in San Pedro and hundreds of miles away in Northern California, taking on this physical challenge and being an active part of our communities and promoting the important work that we do for the birds” said Angie Trumbo, Yes We Peli-CAN! Team captain.

All summer long, Team Yes We Peli-CAN! Has worked to fundraise in support of animal care at our wildlife centers with a goal of reaching $15,000 by race day. Thanks to their efforts, a generous team sponsorship from Chevron, and numerous donations from the public and Bird Rescue supporters, we surpassed our goal, bringing in just under $16,000!

With another successful run as Team Yes We Peli-CAN! under our belts, we look forward to next year and bringing the team back for Conquer the Bridge 2020!

Runners and walkers on the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, CA. Photos by International Bird Rescue

 

September 3, 2019

You’re Invited to the October 26th Night-Heron Masquerade in San Francisco

Russ Curtis

Calling all night birds to join us for an upbeat Bird Rescue celebration on Saturday, October 26th from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., on the beautiful Ohana Floor of Salesforce East in San Francisco. Buy Tickets Now

Come to the event to share your love of birds as well as living plants on Salesforce’a Ohana East 30th floor.

The Masquerade will feature delicious vegetarian flavors, an open bar with wine and beer, amazing auction items, and fun opportunities to celebrate the rescue and rehabilitation of San Francisco Bay Area birds. The event is a perfect starting point for your Halloween weekend celebrations, or as a classy, uplifting evening all on its own.

A selection of masks will be available to attendees. There is no need to bring a mask! Cocktail attire is suggested.

The Ohana Room in Salesforce East offers a gorgeous setting with lovely 30th floor views of San Francisco and beyond, over 3000 live plants, 65 different species! In the decor, a self-playing piano, and a giant screen for photographic highlights of our bird rescue efforts. The venue is easily accessible by BART and MUNI.

Please note the deadline to register for this event is by Tuesday, October 22nd with a full name and an e-mail address for all attendees and guests. A government-issued photo ID is required at the entrance. Unfortunately, Salesforce does not allow day-of additions ahead of the event. The event is at 350 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. The venue is easily accessible by BART and MUNI.

If you would like to become an event sponsor, please contact Toni Arkoosh Pinsky at toni.pinsky@ bird­rescue.org or JD Bergeron at 510.289.1472.

The Ohana Floor in Salesforce East offers a gorgeous setting with over 3000 live plants and views of San Francisco Bay. Photos by Russ Curtis – International Bird Rescue

 

August 19, 2019

Release of the Week: Snowy Egrets and Black-crowned Night-Herons

Russ Curtis

A bevy of Snowy Egrets, many from the Oakland Heronry Rescue in July, were released this month at Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

With supporters looking on, another group of Snowy Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons, were released back to the wild last week at Arrowhead Marsh in Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline.

A pair of Black-crowned Night-Herons saunter out of cages back to the wild spaces in Oakland. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

Most of the released birds were part of the Oakland Heronry Rescue that began on July 10th after a large ficus tree containing a rookery of 50+ nests, split at the trunk and toppled in front of the downtown Oakland U.S. Post Office at Jackson and 13th Streets. The rookery included many nesting birds with baby egrets and herons, some of them which spilled onto sidewalks below.

Over a three day stretch, a total of 90 birds were rescued – including 51 Snowy Egrets, 22 Black-crowned Night-Herons, and 17 eggs.

You can still donate via the GivingGrid!

Thankfully a concerned citizen noticed these birds in crisis and immediately called our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center to come to the rescue. A Bird Rescue team, including JD Bergeron, Executive Director and Michelle Bellizzi, Response Manager, was on the scene right away at Jackson at 13th Streets and began gently scooping up the surviving birds and preparing them for transport to our clinic in Fairfield.

Read: It always starts with a phone call

After the remaining tree was deemed unsafe for the public as well as the nesting birds, the team worked alongside a tree service that helped trim branches and collect all the remaining eggs and birds in nests.

“This rescue has been an epic journey for us all–on-scene rescuers, partners, staff, volunteers, donors, and supporters!” said JD Bergeron.

“The plight of these fallen birds caught the attention of many who dare to hope that people can still come together to make good things happen. TV, radio, blogs, and newspapers helped to carry this good news story in the midst of so much bad news,” Bergeron added.

Thanks to our generous donors, Bird Rescue was able to raise enough in donations to cover the food, medicine, and daily care for these young herons and egrets. But our work doesn’t end with these 90 birds — we provide wildlife rescue and rehabilitation programs 365 days a year, and our 3,500+ patients each year don’t come with insurance.

The support of the community means the world to us and reinforces to us the belief that each of us, every day, must take action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves. You can still help us with a donation

A Snowy Egret gets ready to fly off in Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

August 13, 2019

It Always Starts With A Phone Call

Michelle Bellizzi

Baby Snowy Egrets, many that had tumbled out of nests onto a downtown Oakland sidewalk, were gently scopped up and put into boxes for transport to Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. Photo by Michelle Bellizzi–International Bird Rescue

Note: First person post about the Oakland Heronry Rescue in July 2019 by Michelle Bellizzi, Bird Rescue’s Response Manager

After the ficus tree collapsed, Oakland city crews cleaned up the fallen branches. Photo by Michelle Bellizzi–International Bird Rescue

On Wednesday July 10, 2019, I’d just arrived home from work and was getting dinner together, when The Call came in. International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center Manager Isabel Luevano had picked up a message on the hospital phone describing a sad scene: a large ficus tree next to the downtown Oakland U.S. Post Office and used for nesting by the city’s iconic Black-crowned Night-Herons and Snowy Egrets had collapsed, and numerous baby birds had fallen with their nests across a city sidewalk.

Luckily, I live just a short distance away from the site and was able to grab my partner and convince him that saving baby birds was *the* thing to do in the evening, and together we headed down to the site. On our way, I received a text from Response Services Director Barbara Callahan, who had picked up a call on our 24-hour Oil Spill Emergency Hotline about the situation. We were met at the site by JD Bergeron, Bird Rescue’s Executive Director, and his partner Travis (Bird Rescue has a wonderful tradition of wrangling our significant others to step in when needed, and all of our husbands, wives, and partners are angels!), as well as concerned locals and city workers prepared to clean up the mess.

We quickly discovered that the tree in question had split in half, and the City needed to clean the fallen branches from the sidewalk. The remaining half of the tree was in imminent danger of falling as well and would need to be removed.

One of the people on-site was Shirl Simpson, the Branch Manager of the Post Office, and it only took a few moments for Shirl to become one of my favorite people in the world. Upon seeing the downed tree, the nestlings, and the remaining bird nests in the tree, Shirl said unequivocally: “We are going to save these birds – these are OUR birds, and we’re not going to let anything happen to them.” Shirl was the person who had contacted our Emergency Line – she had remembered a Channel 7 story on Bird Rescue and went to “Seven on Your Side” to find our number.

The sight of the tree was intimidating and heartbreaking: half of the tree was down with baby birds in the branches on the ground, and the half that remained standing had approximately 40 nests visible in the canopy…which was 30 feet up and inaccessible without a cherry picker.

“We are going to save these birds – these are OUR birds, and we’re not going to let anything happen to them.” said Shirl Simpson (seated), the Branch Manager of the Post Office, along with JD Bergeron holding a rescued Black-crown Night-Heron. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds–International Bird Rescue

On Wednesday evening, our job was clear: rescue the babies that had fallen and clear the sidewalk, and work on a plan for the remaining tree on Thursday. We sprang into action working alongside the Oakland City workers, carefully searching through the downed branches to extract any babies and handing the cleared branches to the city workers for chipping. We rescued 18 baby herons and egrets, and cleared the downed half of the tree just before dark. The birds were taken back to our Fairfield facility by 9:30 pm.

Later on Thursday and Friday, JD and I returned to the site to collect additional birds and to oversee the complete removal of the tree. Because the tree itself was on Postal Service property, Shirl hired Davey Tree service to remove the birds from their nests and capture unflighted birds in the tree canopy *and* cut the tree in sections as they removed the birds.

JD and I stayed on the ground playing outfielder, collecting the birds from the workers in the picker, and identifying areas in the canopy with birds so the worker was aware of birds moving through the foliage and nest areas. Because of the slow nature of the work, birds were transported to the facility midday and in the evening.

Interestingly, as the workers moved through the tree south to north, the birds got older! Apparently most of the nests on the south side of the tree were nestlings, and the north side of the tree housed the birds that were **just about ready to fledge**. As less and less tree was available to hide in, the birds congregated at the north edge and several proved to be good fliers and able to fly from tree to tree, and the decision was made to not capture them. By noon on Friday, the last branch had been cut, and the last birds were driven to our center so the real work could begin!

News Media Stories

Black-crowned Night-Herons, Snowy Egrets released into wild after surviving Oakland tree collapse, ABC-7-News

Using a cherry picker, Davey Tree Service, helped safely remove other birds and nests before trimming the tree back in front of the Post Office at 13th and Jackson Streets in downtown Oakland. Photo by Michelle Bellizzi–International Bird Rescue

July 29, 2019

Video of the Oakland Heronry Rescue

Russ Curtis

Watch this video to learn how International Bird Rescue jumped into action starting on July 10, 2019 to rescue dozens of baby herons and egrets when their rookery tree partially collapsed in downtown Oakland.

A total of 90 birds ended up being rescued over three days. This included 51 Snowy Egrets, 22 Black-crowned Night-Herons, and 17 eggs. Read more

Donate today at https://www.givinggrid.com/HeronryRescue

July 12, 2019

Bird Rescue Jumps Into Action in Oakland – Rescuing Baby Birds from Fallen Tree

Russ Curtis

Birds rescued in Oakland include 50 Snowy Egret chicks and nestlings. All are now in care at Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. 📷 > Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

Disaster struck this week at a large heron and egret rookery in downtown Oakland, CA. A large ficus tree split and partially toppled on Wednesday, sending dozens of baby birds tumbling to the ground.

A concerned citizen saw these birds in crisis and immediately called our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center to come to the rescue. A Bird Rescue team, including JD Bergeron, Executive Director and Michelle Bellizzi, Response Manager, was on the scene right away at Jackson at 13th Streets and began collecting the surviving birds to take into care.

By the end of day on Friday, July 12, teams had rescued a total of 90 birds – including 51 Snowy Egrets, 22 Black-crowned Night-Herons, and 17 eggs.

Meanwhile, back at the clinic, staff and volunteers worked late into the night to prepare special enclosures for the incoming patients and take care of their immediate needs as they arrived.

We are so grateful to be able to care for all of these precious baby birds but rely on the public’s support to cover the costs of care for all of our patients.

Won’t you help us with a donation so these baby birds have a second chance at life?

One of the 22 Black-crowned Night-Herons rescued in Oakland is weighed during intake at our clinic in Fairfield.

What happens when a bird is rescued?

Our partners also deserve praise. They stepped forward to help us, including the Golden Gate Audubon, Oakland post office staff, law enforcement, and Davey Tree Services, the city-hired arborists to rescue the rest of the baby birds from this tree before the tree was taken down.

Our clinic assesses and stabilizes the birds; any eggs collected are put in incubators, and all chicks will need to be hand-fed by staff and volunteers multiple times a day. Each of these rescued birds will require weeks and sometimes months of care before they are able to be released back into a safe environment.

These birds – especially the Black-crowned Night-Herons– hold a special place in the heart of Oakland residents. Earlier this year, local school kids urged and won a petition to have the Oakland City Council declare the Night-Herons the official bird of Oakland. Read more

If too care for wildlife, please contribute what you can to help raise these birds in need!

Thank you for your generous support.

After the initial rescue of baby herons and egrets on Wednesday, a city crew cleans up a large part of a fallen tree in downtown Oakland, CA. IBR photo

On Thursday, working with Davey Tree Service using its cherry picker, teams helped carefuly capture heron and egret chicks and nestlings in the damaged ficus tree. 📷 > Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

Some of the Snowy Egrets rescued from the downtown Oakland rookery. 📷 > Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

JD Bergeron, Executive Director at Bird Rescue, directs rescuers while helping man a safety net to catch chicks and nestlings just in case they fall. 📷 > Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

Black-crowned Night-Herons rescued at Oakland rookery. 📷 > Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

June 25, 2019

Published: Port of Los Angeles Wildlife Impact Mitigation Project

Russ Curtis

This year International Bird Rescue was proud to complete the Port of Los Angles Wildlife Impact Mitigation Project, which was generously funded through a grant from the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation (HCBF). This program involved a unique approach and included a three-step process to assess and mitigate impacts on wildlife in the Port of Los Angeles.

The first step in the program was to gather historical data from all organizations that service wildlife in the Port in order to assess effects on wildlife.

The second step entailed outreach and training for businesses and industry working in the Port in order to provide them with updates on laws and regulations, assessment abilities, and solutions that seek to mitigate wildlife impacts.

The third step was to formulate recommendations for future mitigation of wildlife impacts.

We are happy to report that Bird Rescue accomplished all of the goals set forth for the project, and at the same time built positive relationships and solutions for the future. We hope that the work conducted during this project will serve as an initial model that can be expanded and improved going forward to continue to address a rapidly changing environment in which we humans can live side-by-side with our local wildlife populations.

View the final report PDF 3.6 MB

 

June 21, 2019

Port of Los Angeles Wildlife Impact Mitigation Project: June 24th Presentation

Russ Curtis

What: Port of Los Angeles Wildlife Impact Mitigation Project, a special presentation: Hosted by International Bird Rescue and the Los Angeles Wildlife Center. Download Final Report PDF 3.6 MB

When: Monday, June 24, 2019 at 7 PM – 9 PM

Where: The Plaza At Cabrillo Marina, 2965 Via Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro, California 90731 Map

Thanks to a generous grant from the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation (HCBF), International Bird Rescue has conducted a study on the impacts to wildlife in the Port of Los Angeles. The study will be presented to the public on Monday evening, June 24, 2019 at 7 PM. There will also be a panel discussion with local experts. Refreshments will be served.

The study was conducted to weigh the human-generated impacts on marine wildlife at the Port of Los Angeles operations. Bird Rescue focused on the waterbirds that wade, dive, feed, and reproduce there. There had been port environmental impact reports before, but no review of wildlife incidents stretching back so far historically, or cast a net so wide.

Part of the study’s findings include education and outreach efforts that involve simple, straight-forward, and practical ways to minimize human-animal impacts (aka “Urban Wildlife Conflicts”), correctly identify common and uncommon wildlife behaviors, recognize signs of distress, and provide easy, direct, convenient resources to contact when intervention might be required.

This San Pedro event is free and open to the public.

Background

Bird Rescue and Harbor Community Benefit Foundation have built a strong partnership over the past five years, with HCBF supporting an impactful summer research internship program for several years. This year, HCBF offered Bird Rescue an opportunity to study current and historic issues affecting wildlife in and around the Port of Los Angeles, and to suggest mitigation measures. The Project is also helping to identify opportunities for further improvements to the health and safety of both marine wildlife and people.

About International Bird Rescue: In 1971 after 800,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the bay, concerned individuals led by a registered nurse named Alice Berkner jumped into action, bringing International Bird Rescue to life. We have always had to pave a road where there is none. Staff and volunteers work with tenacity alongside clients, partners, and the public to find solutions. Today, we research best practices at our crisis response hospitals in California and Alaska and share them worldwide. Our mission is to inspire people to act toward balance with the natural world by rescuing waterbirds in crisis. We dream of a world in which every person, every day, takes action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves.