Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

May 18, 2020

Patient of the Week: Western Snowy Plover

Russ Curtis

Using a custom anesthesiology and oxygen rig, the Western Snowy Plover with a wing fracture had its wing pinned. Photo: Dr. Rebecca Duerr – International Bird Rescue

The Tiny Surgery Patient

On May 4, International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center was contacted by biologists about an injured adult male Western Snowy Plover they had captured at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Union City, CA. On arrival, radiographs revealed the bird had suffered a bad wing fracture, with its humerus bone in 3 pieces, plus it had a lacerated patagium (the web of skin that connects the shoulder to the wrist on the wing). Humerus fractures generally require surgical pinning if a wild bird is to have any hope of ever being able to fly again.

Despite not the best prognosis for this type of fracture healing well in such a tiny bird, not to mention their minuscule size (only 6 inches in length) providing a surgical challenge, our team decided to give fixing this bird a go. Due to the status of Western Snowy Plovers as Species of Special Concern within California, and Threatened status on the Endangered Species list, we had extra incentive to try to get this bird fixed up and back out into the wild.

Surgical repair was nerve-wracking but this feisty little bird did great through anesthesia and Dr. Rebecca Duerr, Bird Rescue’s staff veterinarian, was able to get the three pieces of bone correctly positioned on the pin after repairing the wing wound. Due to the size of the bone and delicate placement of the pin near the elbow, she decided to not attempt to place cross pins, which are often done in cases like this in larger birds to create an external fixator that allows the wing to be unrestrained while it heals. Instead, she opted to simply tape the wing to the body to provide the extra stability needed for the bone to start to heal.

We are happy to report that 18 days in, this tiny patient is doing well, being a good patient running around his enclosure and eating on his own. The pin will be removed next week, and physical therapy will begin in earnest. Since the bird has been healing so well so far, we are guardedly optimistic about his prognosis for being able to fly again.

About Snowy Plovers

Along the San Francisco Bay there are about 200 nesting Western Snowy Plovers, including about 125 at Eden Eden Landing Ecological Reserve. The Pacific coast breeding population extends from the state of Washington, to Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Male Snowy Plovers are good fathers. Though their offspring are able to feed themselves, the fathers watch over their chicks and will valiantly chase off predators or gather chicks underwing to shield them from weather or other risks.

These birds build their nests on sandy beaches, and their nesting areas are easily disturbed by hikers and beach goers. You can help protect this species by being extra cautious when you visit the beach or wetlands – give birds plenty of space and pay attention to signage that indicates nesting birds may be nearby. You can also help spread the word and educate others about Snowy Plovers – little birds like these might be hard to spot if you don’t know to look for them!

X-rays revealed the plover had suffered a bad wing fracture.

In surgery a pin was carefully placed to help the fractured wing to heal.

Western Snowy Plover in care at our Northern California wildlife center. Photo: International Bird Rescue

 

May 6, 2020

In The Time Of COVID-19: Alaska Oil Spill Response

Michelle Bellizzi

Aerial photo of the Valdez Marine Terminal, Alaska. You can see the oil sheen and boom deployment in Prince William Sound. Photo credit: Alyeska Pipeline

Sunday, April 12th was just like any other “normal” day adjusting to our new “normal” of “flattening the curve” during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the preceding weeks, states on the west coast of the United States had instituted #StayHome policies to slow the transmission of the deadly novel virus spreading across the globe since late 2019.

On that evening at 6:15 pm, International Bird Rescue received a call from our long-time client, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, alerting us to a small oil spill incident in Valdez, Alaska. Immediately, Alyeska activated Barbara Callahan, Bird Rescue’s Response Director, to provide expertise in this developing situation.

Callahan learned that the incident involved a small leak from a sump pump at the Valdez Marine Terminal – on land approximately 650 feet from the shore of Prince William Sound. The mere mention of a spill in this area, immediately brings up terrifying thoughts in the waters made famous by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster. And while the amount of this oiling was small, the oil seeped into the topsoil and leached into the harbor, where it created a large area of sheen. Worse, the area where the sheen was contained within boom sets was adjacent to a pier where one of the largest and most successful breeding populations of Black-legged Kittiwakes nest annually. There was also concern for the myriad of other fish, seabirds, waterfowl, and marine mammals that were making their annual return to the area for feeding and breeding. To add to the worry, the spill site was very close to a commercial salmon fishery where fry (small juvenile salmon) were scheduled for release within two weeks of this oil spill. There were significant concerns that the resulting sudden influx of prey species to the area would bring in additional animals foraging.

If this event had happened without the existence of a pandemic, the response tactics would be clear: Bird Rescue would deploy one or two field teams to Valdez to capture and stabilize any oil-affected birds. In addition, there would be a team assigned to activate the Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC) in Anchorage. This turn-key standby center is always prepared to offer full rehabilitation of oiled wildlife.

Because of COVID-19 travel and quarantine restrictions, personnel from outside of Valdez were required to go through a 14-day quarantine within the state. In order to quickly initiate wildlife operations in Valdez, Alyeska activated several “Vessels of Opportunity” (“VOO’s”) who are kept on contract and who are pre-trained annually by Alyeska and Bird Rescue to be wildlife observers and capture crews. In addition, a small team of marine mammal experts were brought in from Anchorage and a local veterinarian were enlisted to perform wildlife stabilization.

Two Bird Rescue team members, Julie Skoglund and Liz Montenegro, were deployed to Anchorage to prepare the AWRC, and arrived on April 20th. As with every other part of this response, even this fairly direct deployment required an intensive contact history and a three-day quarantine without leaving their hotel rooms before the team was able to get to work at the AWRC. Once released from their quarantine, they quickly got to work and not only prepared for potential patients, but also performed a deep-clean on the center’s upstairs storage area, creating new storage space and cleaning out out-of-date or unnecessary equipment and supplies.

We are relieved to report that only three animals were oiled during this event, two were deceased prior to collection and one bird was euthanized. While we are never happy to see any oiled animals, this event had the potential to impact thousands more animals, and we breathed a sigh of relief as the spill area became smaller and smaller each day, and the oiled shoreline has been gradually restored. While spill cleanup operations will continue until the environment is restored, as of May 5, our Anchorage team has been demobilized and returned to their homes to self-quarantine for 14 days. Response Director Barbara Callahan and Bird Rescue will continue to be a part of the Spill Response management team providing our best advice and recommendations until cleanup operations are complete.

April 22, 2020

Webinar April 30: Blue Banded Pelican Project

Russ Curtis

Join us for an informative webinar on the Blue Banded Pelican Project by Dr. Rebecca Duerr, International Bird Rescue’s staff veterinarian. The online event will be held on Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 5:30 PM (PST). Please register here

In an effort to increase the number of reports of live sightings, Bird Rescue initiated the Blue-Banded Pelican Project in 2009. In addition to the metal federal band, each Brown Pelican receives a large, blue plastic leg band bearing easily readable white numbers. Since starting this program, thansks to citizen scientists, the rate of live Brown Pelican sighting reports has greatly increased.  The blue band IDs that we use feature a single letter followed by two numbers.

Read more

April 19, 2020

$49 for 49 more years!

Russ Curtis

It’s time to Raise the Rookery and help celebrate International Bird Rescue’s 49th year.

Baby bird season is already in full swing and you can help! For every $49 donation, we will honor you with an egret perched in our symbolic rookery tree. Your first name and last initial will be noted on your bird(s), or you may pick a different tribute name.

We could not do this work without YOU. You rescue birds right along with us and we thank you so very deeply. Your gift directly funds food, medication, and expert daily care for a bird in our wildlife centers.

Please Give 49. Your $49 donation includes a Bird Rescue membership for 2020.

Read more: History of International Bird Rescue

 

 

April 17, 2020

Virtual Open House April 20 – May 1

Russ Curtis

Dear Bird Rescue Supporters,

In light of the current situation with COVID-19, we have postponed our annual open houses and opted instead to make the Bird Rescue Open House experience available to you all in the comfort of your own homes!

We invite you to join us virtually from Monday, April 20th to Friday, May 1st for a variety of online events that will take you inside the doors of our two wildlife centers, give you the chance hear from and chat with members of our executive team, and participate in bird activities that are fun for all ages!

Thank you to our generous sponsors: Procter & Gamble: DAWN, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Port of Long Beach, and Preparative Consulting!

Below is our schedule of events:

Monday, April 20th 5:00 PM (PST): Webinar – Bird Rescue 49th Anniversary with Executive Director, JD Bergeron. Watch this recorded webinar

Tuesday, April 21st 12:30 PM (PST): Tune in on our Facebook or YouTube channel for the release of our 49th Anniversary Bird Video: Meet the Western Grebe.

Wednesday, April 22nd 12:30 PM (PST): Kids’ Corner: Watch the video on making a bird-themed craft!

Friday, April 24th 12:30 PM (PST): Learn about baby bird care in a virtual visit to our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center: Watch the video

Monday, April 27th 12:30 PM (PST): Learn about oiled bird care in a virtual visit to our Los Angeles wildlife center: Watch the video

Tuesday, April 28th 12:30 PM (PST):  Kids’ Corner: Watch a special presentation for the young and young at heart about bird nests: Watch the video

Thursday, April 30th 5:30 PM (PST):  Webinar: Blue Banded Pelican Project, presented by Staff Veternarian Dr Rebecca Duerr. Watch the recorded webinar.

Friday, May 1st 12:30 PM(PST): Closing remarks via Facebook Live and a video celebration of releases on our YouTube channel

Dr. Rebecca Duerr, Bird Rescue veterinarian, will present a webinar on Bird Rescue’s Blue Banded Pelican Project: Register now

April 15, 2020

Webinar April 20: Introduction to Bird Rescue

Russ Curtis

Please join us on Monday, April 20, 2020 at 5:00 PM for a special webinar celebrating the 49th anniversary of International Bird Rescue. JD Bergeron, Executive Director at Bird Rescue will host an engaging online presentation through Zoom video conferencing. Register now

The event is part of Bird Rescue’s move to Virtual Open Houses as the COVID-19 pandemic requires families to #StayHome. We have postponed our traditional open houses at both California wildlife centers and opted instead to make the experience available online to all.

From Monday, April 20th to Friday, May 1st Bird Rescue will host a variety of online events that will take you inside the doors of our wildlife centers. You’ll have a chance to hear from and chat with members of our leadership team, and participate in bird activities that are fun for all ages!

See the complete calendar of events

 

April 13, 2020

Release Files: Laysan Albatross Returns To The Wild

Russ Curtis

Laysan Albatross gets the first taste of freedom as a Black-footed Albatross waits. Photos by Don Baccus

The wayward Laysan Albatross that was found grounded in a meadow in Soquel, CA, is back in the wild after being released back to Monterey Bay. Thanks to the SPCA for Monterey County for doing the original rescue back in late March after local birders alerted the animal rescue group. After being transferred to International Bird Rescue, the albatross made an excellent recovery after two weeks in care.

Executive Director JD Bergeron transported the bird from our wildlife center in Fairfield to the Moss Landing Harbor. Big thanks to Fast Raft who donated their services to help transport the bird 10 miles off the coast. Bird lover and friend of Bird Rescue Jan Loomis was also helpful in arranging the trip. This trip out into the open ocean was a rare moment during the current pandemic and the small group involved were blessed with views of many seabirds, a few humpback whales, and a pod of orcas.

When the boat finally reached its destination, a nutrient-rich part of Monterey Bay, the boat was greeted by a Black-footed Albatross during the release of the former patient and was soon joined by a dozen more Black-footed Albatrosses, which also nest on Midway Atoll. It was a magic moment in nature after many weeks cooped up during the restrictions.

The bird’s release was dedicated to the late Shirley Doell who was one of the count leaders during the annual nesting albatross count on Midway Atoll. Bergeron met Doell several years ago when he volunteered to help count 600,000 nests on these northern Pacific Ocean islands.

With their tremendous 6½ foot wingspan, Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) can take advantage of prevailing winds to glide long distances – sometimes 300-400+ miles in one day. They breed on tiny islands in the North Pacific Ocean – especially Midway Atoll – about 3,000 miles from California.

The oldest known banded wild bird in the world is a Laysan Albatross named Wisdom. At 69 years old, Wisdom returns most years to Midway to renew her nest and hatch a chick – as she did again in December of 2018 but took a year off in 2019. To date she is believed to have hatched more than 40 chicks over the course of her life.

In the past, Laysan Albatrosses notably have been found as stowaways on container ships that travel the ocean highways. They have often been spotted resting or even building nests aboard these vessels. In recent years, we’ve also seen them picked up after crash landing in the Southern California desert. Read more

Bird Rescue relies on the generous support of the public to care for wildlife, including wayward birds blown off course, those injured in cruelty incidents, as well as those harmed by fishing gear and other human-caused injuries. Please donate

Near the release site, agroup of Black-footed-Albatrosses. Photo by Janette Loomis

April 2, 2020

Patient in Focus: Brown Pelican 0A2

Russ Curtis
Brown Pelican spreads its wings in care at International Bird Rescue

After 95 days in treatment for a wing fracture, Brown Pelican 0A2 was released back to the wild. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

The Long Road to Recovery

Late last month we released a young Brown Pelican who came to us in 2019! This bird was found in Half Moon Bay, CA, in December standing around looking dazed on a beach, ignoring dogs running up to him. After his rescue, he was brought to our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center for care. Radiographs showed this bird had suffered a wing fracture – the ulna.

The pelican’s radiograph (x-ray) shows the (ulna) wing fracture.

Sometimes fractures of the ulna in birds can be successfully treated with splints and wraps, but due to previous experience with pelicans recovering from ulna fractures, Bird Rescue’s veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr opted to place orthopedic pins and two external fixators, securing the fracture site from two different angles.

Pinning can reduce the probability that a bird will develop range of motion problems in their wing joints as a result of a prolonged time in a wrap. Pinned wings are generally kept wrapped only for the first few days, then the bird can have the wing unrestrained for the duration of healing, which lets them wiggle and move and keep their joints in good shape. This pelican patient then had a long road to recovery ahead under the expert care of our rehabilitation technicians, needing to fully regain the strength in its wing to be able to survive again in the wild.

For this pelican’s ulna fracture, our veterinarian placed orthopedic pins and two external fixators to its wing. Photo: Dr Rebecca Duerr – International Bird Rescue

Bird bones generally heal much faster than mammals – after just 3 weeks, the ulna had healed and the pins were removed. Although he did not have any range of motion problems in his joints, the wing was very weak. Once he was ready, we moved him to our pelican aviary where he could bathe and preen, and start exercising by swimming. When birds bathe, they vigorously move all the muscles and joints of the chest, shoulders, and wings, and this provides amazing exercise for a bird recovering from a wing injury.

Once he began flying, we could see he was flapping asymmetrically with the formerly broken wing not extending fully with each flap, but thankfully this improved with practice. Due to the large size of our pelican aviary, we are able to see when a pelican is not flying normally or is compensating for a mobility deficit. We could see that as his flight strength and coordination improved, he persisted in leaning his head to one side when flying. As plunge-divers, Brown Pelicans have a very athletically intense way of catching dinner in the wild; consequently, we kept him for more exercise until his flight normalized. We want every bird we release to be as able-bodied as wild birds that never had a health crisis, so that they have the best possible chance of leading a long wild life.

After 94 days in care, he was finally ready for us to put bands on his legs and say Good Bye and Happy Fishing to Blue Band 0A2!

Before heading out for release, Brown Pelican 0A2 has final photos taken with James Manzolillo, Bird Rescue rehabilitation tech. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

April 1, 2020

Here Come The Baby Birds!

Russ Curtis

Orphaned ducklings are some of the baby birds we will enter into care this spring.

Dear Bird Rescue Supporter,

Our doors are still open for wildlife and that’s a good thing. Baby bird season is quickly upon us and we will need your help to keep them fed and cared for!

We need to raise $5,000 and if you donate today your donation will be DOUBLED by an anonymous donor!

Thank you for ALL your support during these uncertain times. It’s what keeps us moving forward. As always, your generous support is much appreciated!

Be well and please take care of your brood, too,

JD Bergeron
Executive Director
International Bird Rescue

P.S. – We also have another eight oiled Western Grebes coming into care this week – rescued from the natural oil seep that is prevalent along the coast in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

March 31, 2020

Ordering Through Amazon? Use Our Smile Link

Russ Curtis

We always encourage folks to shop local when they can, but for many of you during the COVID-19 pandemic, online ordering has been one of the safest ways to shop. So if you’re ordering through Amazon can we ask you a favor? Use the AmazonSmile program link and the retailer will donate a portion of your purchases to us.

Through the Smile program Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to International Bird Rescue, These are the same products and services as offered by Amazon.com.

You can also you check out our Amazon.com Wish Lists, which feature a wide variety of products we depend upon every day. You can choose from our Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay center Wish Lists.

Thank you again for helping us make sure Every Bird Matters!

March 19, 2020

In Time of Crisis: #LookUp

Russ Curtis

Updated: April 7, 2020

“I go to nature to be soothed, healed and have my senses put in order.”
– John Burroughs

While it can be easy to feel overwhelmed in these challenging times, we encourage you to find solace in nature. A common thread unites our community: a deep love of birds and an appreciation for the natural world.  A simple walk outside, a deep breath, and the unexpected sound of a bird’s song can calm strained nerves in times of stress. Every bird we rescue and release renews our hope – its resilience is a second chance. At times like this, birds can give us a reason to keep looking up.

As we navigate uncertain times together, Bird Rescue will share bird images and stories that give us hope and resolve to face an uncertain future. We invite you to share your stories, photos and reasons to keep looking up in the comments and post photos on social media of your view looking up and tag us @IntBirdRescue with the hashtag #LookUp. Together we can inspire others to act towards balance with the natural world even in times of uncertainty.

Remember to #LookUp.

Brown Pelican stretch, photo by Alan Murphy, Photographers in Focus

 

Baby American Coot, photo by Bill Steinkamp, Photographers in Focus

 

Snowy Plovers on beach

Sanderlings (Calidris alba), photo by Rory Merry, Photographers in Focus

 

Cattle Egret, photo by Sara Silver, Photographers in Focus

 

Baby Mallard checking our a dragonfly, photo by Kim Taylor, Photographers in Focus

 

Black-necked Stilts, photo by Ingrid Taylar, Photographers in Focus

 

African Penguins released after cleaned of oil Treasure Oil Spill, 200. Photo by Jon Hrusa, Photographers in Focus

 

Clark’s Grebe swims carrying chick, photo by Patricia Ware, Photographers in Focus

 

American Bittern chicks, photo by Marie Travers, Photographers in Focus

 

Greater Flamingo on Lake Naivasha, Kenya. Photo by Yeray Seminario, Photographers in Focus

 

Snowy Egret, photo by Kim Taylor, Photographers in Focus

Baby Western Grebe, photo by Marie Travers, Photographers in Focus

 

Brown Pelican in flight after release in Southern California by International Bird Rescue

Brown Pelican in flight after release in Southern California. Photo by Angie Trumbo – International Bird Rescue

March 17, 2020

Keep Looking Up

JD Bergeron
Brown Pelican in flight after release in Southern California by International Bird Rescue

Brown Pelican in flight after release in Southern California. Photo by Angie Trumbo – International Bird Rescue

Dear Bird Rescue Supporters,

First of all, please accept my wishes for continued good health and wellness for you and your families. We’re all in this together, and together we will endure and eventually thrive.

The health and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and the community are always our top priority. As in an oil spill response, human safety must be secured first, then we can focus on our patients. We are treating the current situation with all the care of our usual emergency response work.

Western Grebe chick snuggles in a feather duster in our wildlife hospital. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

We’ve taken steps to protect our staff inside our two California wildlife centers. Over the weekend, we began changes to our operations to minimize human interactions while maintaining high-quality care for the birds in our centers. At that time, we temporarily suspended our in-house volunteer programs and encouraged all administrative staff to work from home for all but critical banking and similar tasks. All business travel has been cancelled.

Yesterday, six San Francisco Bay Area counties (and the City of Berkeley) issued shelter in place ordinances. Importantly, veterinary hospitals are considered essential and are therefore exempted from mandatory closures. Because of this and the 70+ waterbirds currently in our care, we remain open daily to treat sick, injured, and orphaned waterbirds. As of now, the following changes are in place:

• Injured wildlife may be transported to us for treatment, but drop-off procedures have changed. Rescuers are discouraged from entering the facility; instead, a staff member will greet rescuers to receive the bird. If you’ve found a bird, please review this page.

• We are postponing or cancelling all upcoming public events through April 15th, and will continually reassess the situation for events planned after that date.

• We are exploring the option of providing educational webinars and live-video feeds to engage you and your families in the next few weeks. Please watch our social media (linked below) for updates and schedules.

While it may be easy to feel overwhelmed in these challenging times, we continue to work with injured and orphaned birds, one day at a time and one bird at a time, and we continue to release birds back into the wild as they become well enough. Every release matters.

No matter what our flock is facing, a common thread unites us: a deep love of birds and an appreciation for the natural world. At times like this, birds can give us a reason to keep looking up.

As we navigate this crisis together, we will continue to share updates and stories that heal, #lookup.

• Follow us via our website & blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email, so stay tuned. (Sign up for email updates here)

• You can watch our two live BirdCams to see what’s up at our two wildlife centers.

Thanks to support from people like you, Bird Rescue treats thousands of water birds in crisis each year. Like everyone, we are being hit hard financially by this pandemic, which means your support is essential, now more than ever. Where possible, we encourage you to maintain your annual giving, become a monthly recurring donor, or make a pledge that can be fulfilled by year-end. Together, we can inspire others to act towards balance with the natural world.

Stay safe and keep looking up,

 

 

 

 

JD Bergeron
Executive Director
International Bird Rescue

 

March 6, 2020

Meet Ralph: A Bird with Peculiarities

Russ Curtis

“Ralph” earned his name for this Northern Fulmar’s propensity to vomit as self defense. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

We’re seeing a lot of fulmars in care lately (more about this below). These pelagic birds (often confused with gulls) have some, well, peculiarities—chief among them being their “special” reaction to anything they perceive as a threat, which, unfortunately, includes humans who attempt to help them. How exactly do they protect themselves? By projectile-vomiting a stinky orange liquid straight at the perceived enemy. Watch this semi-gross video!

That brings us to one particular fulmar we’ve recently taken into care. He started off being identified by his temporary leg band, Yellow-119. But he’s become popular with our followers, who have suggested different names for him based on his spewing abilities. He’s now been dubbed “Ralph”—a name we get a chuckle out of, and one that’s a lot better than some of the other terms for vomiting that have been offered!

Hungry Fulmars need to eat. Won’t you help? Donate here

Ralph is a “light morph” Northern Fulmar that came into care in late February after he beached himself in Monterey. Staff and volunteers have watched as he’s gained some weight (despite barfing and thereby losing some grams along the way!), stabilized, and begun eating well. And staff and volunteers have also learned not to take it personally when Ralph spews orange-colored stinky stuff (disgusting orange Kool-Aid?) their way.

Another “peculiarity” of fulmars is their beak, which is a bit different – some followers have asked whether Ralph’s beak is broken. Rest assured, it is not broken. Fulmars are members of the tubenose family, which have evolved a special gland to remove the excess salt that builds up from all their ocean-going feeding frenzies. That odd-looking part of the beak is where salt is secreted.

Ralph is one of more than 30 Northern Fulmars that have come into care at our two California wildlife hospitals since the start of this year. All of them have arrived hungry, anemic, and underweight, and most have had trouble thermoregulating. The critical hospital care we provide involves thermal support to warm them, fluid therapy, and tube feedings until they are well enough to eat on their own. According to our friends at beach-watch organizations, they’re finding increasingly more dead fulmars on area beaches, the reason for which is not yet known. Read more

Your donations enable us to continue saving birds’ lives. We are ever grateful to those of you who help us feed and provide needed care for seabirds so that they can be returned to their natural lives.

Northern Fulmar “Ralph” enjoys some outdoor pool time at the San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. He’s gaining weight and hopefully limiting his barfing.

 

February 21, 2020

Patients of the Week: Northern Fulmars

Dr. Rebecca Duerr

A white morph Northern Fulmar. In the outdoor pools, these seabirds need to be monitored carefully as they are quite cantankerous and prone to squabbling. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

Every few years we receive quite a few of one of our favorite species all at once, namely Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis). These oceanic birds are small relatives of albatrosses, and are adored by many wildlife rehabilitators for their beautiful faces and intense musky smell that no two of us will describe the same.

Some of the 23 Northern Fulmars that have come into Bird Rescue’s two California wildlife centers.

Since January 2020, we have received 23 fulmars – 19 in Northern California and 4 in Southern California. All have been anemic, underweight, and most have had trouble thermoregulating. Critical care for them involves thermal support to help them stay warm, fluid therapy, and tube feedings until they feel like eating again. Help feed a fulmar

Currently, three birds are showing signs of a disease we have seen before, where the birds have often-severe anemia, hemorrhages and inflamed blood vessels in their feet, and are at risk of dying from secondary infections. In 2012, during our last large influx of fulmars, we were able to contribute to the discovery of a novel fulmar virus that may be responsible, as the closest relative virus causes similar symptoms in chickens. Much remains to be discovered about the disease challenges of wild seabirds! Read the paper here

Once they are able to stay outside in our pools, they can be quite cantankerous and prone to squabbling; hence, we often have to monitor them carefully to make sure individual birds are getting along. Despite fulmars stranding in horrible nutritional shape, once they start eating, they often gain an enormous amount of weight. Three birds have already recovered and been released as plump, vigorous birds back into the ocean.

Dark morph Northern Fulmar. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

February 7, 2020

Success Stories: White Pelican Back In The Wild After Months in Care

Dr. Rebecca Duerr

This American White Pelican is a survivor. He was released at McNabney Marsh in Martinez, CA. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

After 143 days in care this resilient American White Pelican is back in the wild.

This huge bird came into care in September 2019 and it was finally released last week. He was originally found in Santa Rosa, CA with a smelly, infected, open fracture of the wingtip. It was treated at our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center

On examination, we found a deep tunnel full of infected material open to the fracture zone. On radiographs, we could see that the bones were shattered right next to the proximal metacarpophalangeal joint. Two wingtip bones that are normally fused were not only broken free of each other, but had infected debris in the space between them.

White Pelican wing tip x-ray

Initially, clinic staff and veterinarian focused on getting the infection under control while simultaneously stabilizing the fracture with a splint/bandage combination. Infected tissue was removed under anesthesia, and the wound healed very well. Unfortunately, the bones did not fuse to each other like they need to do in order for the bird to fly. The bird had what is called a non-union, where fragments of bone persist in staying separate, and this non-union is one our vet had not encountered before. Consequently, she decided to try pinning it, inserting threaded cross pins in an ‘X’ pattern to force the two bones to be immobilized in relation to each other. Thankfully it worked.

After the pins were removed, our staff had to help this patient regain strength in its wings to prepare for release. White pelicans can be a bit difficult to get to fly in an aviary even when there is nothing wrong with their wings, and this bird was no exception. He just didn’t want to cooperate. So for this bird, Wildlife Center Manager Isabel Luevano made his physical therapy progress a personal priority and several times a week made him flap strongly while being safely supported in hand, and then would boost him over the pool, thus encouraging him to fly and land on the water; no small feat with a huge bird. All of the hard work by staff and volunteers paid off!

During recovery, the White Pelican received generous pool therapy at the San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue