Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

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 was 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, but has been assessed by our clients and is 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.

 

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.

November 5, 2018

Inside View: From Volunteer to Staff Member

Russ Curtis

I have always been interested in science, health, animals, wildlife, and conservation, but a trip to a wildlife reserve in South Africa last year left me with a desire to do more to help wildlife. At the time, I was also in the middle of changing career paths, pursuing a new career in animal health as a veterinary technician.

I learned about International Bird Rescue about 10 years ago and knew I supported the work Bird Rescue did to help injured, orphaned, and oiled birds, so earlier this year I decided to become a volunteer. I knew that volunteering would give me the opportunity to help wild birds and help me gain skills that could only help me grow as a vet tech student. Now, I have been given the opportunity to become part of the team as a rehabilitation technician.

I am looking forward to giving the birds the care they need to heal and return them to their natural homes. My favorite part of being at Bird Rescue is seeing an injured animal come in, see it regain its strength and health, and have it end with a successful release. I enjoy learning about and working with all the various birds that come into the center, like the Western Grebe, my favorite so far, with its long, slender neck and soft, silky feathers. Or the Northern Fulmar, a bird I didn’t even know about before becoming a volunteer, but now really enjoy catching a glimpse of it bathing in the pools. I am eager to apply and develop the skills that I have learned thus far to grow as a rehabilitator.

It’s very gratifying to know that the birds we help are going back out into the wild to live out their lives as they were meant to before we had to intervene and hopefully contributing to the success of the species. I look forward to forming part of an organization that inspires and educates others to live in harmony with aquatic birds, and other wildlife, so that we may all enjoy the world we share.

-Lisbeth Montenegro
Part-time Rehabilitation Technician
International Bird Rescue

October 26, 2018

Success Story: Rehabilitated Pelican E17’s Eight Year Journey!

Russ Curtis

This story spans eight years and crosses international borders – all wrapped up in the journey of International Bird Rescue’s most famous former patient and parent, a California Brown Pelican banded E17 after his rehabilitation in 2010 at our Los Angeles center.

E17 created quite a buzz when he was spotted for the third time last month in Northern California during the semi-annual Brown Pelican count off of the Alameda Reserve Breakwater Island, a collaboration between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Audubon California.

For those of you who may not be familiar with this bird’s story, it began when he was in care with us for 259 days after his flight feathers had been clipped short, bringing likely suspicions of foul play by humans. To get more on his back story see this blog post.

Since his release, E17’s story has become even more compelling! As you can see in the timeline below, it is apparent that he is an international traveler, flying between San Jeronimo Island in Mexico, Northern California and likely many points in between. Most notably, he surprised and delighted the rehabilitation community in 2017 when he was photographed fathering two chicks on San Jeronimo Island!

Though E17’s rehabilitation story illustrates great success, many pelicans and other seabirds face agonizing injuries and death from cruelty at the hands of humans. Please donate today to help us continue to care for the many patients International Bird Rescue receives every year suffering from pointless cruelty, like E17.

October 25, 2018

October Open House – Fun for All!

Russ Curtis

A warm thank you to the 225+ folks who attended our Open House at the San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center on October 20th! We had a great time opening our doors to get to know you, and giving you an exclusive behind the scenes look at how we rehabilitate injured, orphaned, and sick waterbirds.

We heard you when you said that choosing which of the family-friendly fun and educational activities to do first was a challenge! Our once-hourly education talks focusing on wildlife rehabilitation, oiled wildlife response and research advancements were all very well attended and you had many inquisitive and challenging questions for us! You may have learned at our interactive information tables about how oil can be washed from feathers, and about how ocean debris is affecting the health of many seabirds.

Our silent auction, with all proceeds benefiting the birds, might have had you taking home a favorite piece of art or a gift certificate….or maybe you took home a bag full of sweets and treats from our baked goods table! Any way you slice it, YOU are a part of the Bird Rescue community joining our mission: acting toward balance with the natural world by rescuing waterbirds in crisis. We had so much fun and hope to see you again next year!

October 3, 2018

Take a Peek At The Proposed Pacific Flyway Center

Russ Curtis

A new education center with a focus on waterbirds is poised for approval in Northern California. The Pacific Flyway Center will be built in Fairfield, CA just a short trip from International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center.

Ducks fly over Suisun Marsh, the site of the proposed Pacific Flyway Center.

The Pacific Flyway Fund will take 560 acres of wetlands and “develop, restore and enhance the site as an open space land preserve and wildlife habitat conservation area, with an interpretive nature and educational facility.” The site is near Highways 680 and 80 in Solano County.

Bird Rescue supports this very important educational facility that will introduce the public to the wonders of the Flyway and the Suisun Marsh. Construction may begin as early as spring 2019.

Developers are currently working with the city of Fairfield to finish the project’s environmental review, use permit, and design review, which will lead to the first phase of construction, the outdoor marsh walk. Once complete, the outdoor park will be the facility’s main attraction, where visitors come face-to-face with waterfowl and other wetland birds.

The Pacific Flyway Center is the vision of Ken Hofmann. Before Hoffman died in April of 2018, he made a significant commitment of funds and energy to acquire the property, and allow for the planning, design, and permitting of the center over the next three years through the Pacific Flyway Fund.

Additional funding will be provided by public, private, and matching dollars. The project also has strong partnerships with Ducks Unlimited, California Waterfowl Association, the National Audubon Society, the University of California, Davis, and the Suisun Resource Conservation Board.

September 28, 2018

Photographers in Focus: Alan Murphy

Russ Curtis

Common Loon with chick at Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. All photos © Alan Murphy

We stumbled upon Alan Murphy’s gorgeous bird photos by accident this month while looking online at Common Loon [Gavia immer] images. September is that special month when we celebrate a group of waterbirds that excels at beauty and wonderful parenting skills. What attracted us to Murphy’s photos is that he captures these waterbirds with such grace.

Murphy is an award-winning photographer based in Houston. Besides spending time creating top notch bird photos, this photographer leads several bird photography workshops. Check them out here

We asked Murphy to tell us more about his passion for capturing images of our avian friends:

Question: Your photos of loons are striking. How do you get such intimate portraits of these beautiful birds?

Answer: I have been leading loon photography workshops in British Columbia for the past 7 years. We take small groups out to photograph 3 or 4 nesting pairs. The birds are used to us and allow us to spend time watching and documenting their behavior. I built a low profile platform pontoon boat that you can lay down to photograph the loons from a low perspective. Our camera lenses are only a few inches above water level giving that very intimate look. Each year we get to see and photograph eggs hatching, the chick’s first swim and first feeding. As the adult loons dive to catch their food, their chicks remain on the surface leaving them vulnerable to eagles and other predators. Many times they would bring the chicks over to our boat knowing they would be safe. It is truly a spiritual experience to spend time with these beautiful birds.

Common Loon adult interaction with chick at Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

Q: How did you get into wildlife photography?

A: As a young boy growing up in England and Ireland, bird watching was my hobby. I loved spending time in the woods and had a keen interest in the birds. When I moved to the United States in the 80’s, I was a little overwhelmed with the number of species that looked similar. As an example, in England we have one wren, where in the States we have nine species of wren. To speed up the challenge of identification on the many species, I borrowed a camera and small zoom lens. I would have prints made from the slide film and then try to ID the birds from the prints with my bird book next to them. It didn’t take long to see I needed a bigger lens and find ways to get closer. I read books on how to find and approach wildlife and also on how to be a better photographer. I discovered that I loved the challenge of the technical camera stuff, the challenge of getting closer and most of all, I found photographing birds to be the most intimate bird watching there is. I was hooked.

Sunrise: Loon on the lake at Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

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

A: My personal photography goal is to photograph as many of the species that breed in North America. There are over 740 species. It has taken me 30 years to photograph just over 600 and will probably take the rest of my life to reach 700.  It takes time, networking, money and luck. There’s also a sense of urgency as so many species are getting close to extinction and may not be here in 20-30 years. In the 30 years I have been photographing migrating birds on the Upper Texas Coast, I have seen a decline in bird numbers. The technology in camera gear is getting better each year and equipment is getting lighter, but our subjects are declining and the places to find then are shrinking. To help with this challenge, I try to use my photography to help in conservation in any way I can.

The feathers of a Common Murre at Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

Q: What camera system do you prefer? Favorite lens for wildlife photography?

A: I work with Nikon equipment and have been for over 25 years. Since my main subject is birds, I use the Nikon 600 f4 lens for most of my perched work. For birds in flight I use the Nikon 300 f2.8 lens, sometimes with the 1.4 teleconverter.

Unlike photographing large African mammals for example, birds are small and a long telephoto lens is a necessity. It can be expensive entering in this hobby or profession, but once you have your gear, your set for years. (Well, until the next and greatest camera comes out!)

Q: What tips or suggestions for photographers do you have to edit and catalog their work?

A: I was a photographer when film changed to digital. There was a steep learning curve and not a lot of info for those of us on the forefront of digital. I made a lot of mistakes when it came to organizing my work. Today, there is so much info on the internet, that you can find a lot of feedback on almost anything.  What I found works best for me was to create folders for every species of bird in North America. I have one set of folders that store all my RAW files (over 750 folders) and one set of folders that store all my processed TIFFs. I also have a set of species folders that store smaller JPEGs that are used for my website, newsletters, Facebook etc. The RAWs are stored using the embedded camera file number. The TIFFs are stored using the embedded camera file number, plus the species name. I don’t use keywords like date, sex, location etc, but if I were also cataloging mammals, landscape, macro etc, I would probably do that in order to find things easier. If I need a bird photo, I just go to the species folder.

Editing for me has changed over time. When I first started out, I kept everything. Now, it has to be as good or better than what I already have for me to keep it.

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

A: I have a few things in the works. This winter I will be trying to improve on a photo project that I have been doing to capture a Belted Kingfisher diving into the water. The image I am after is right as the bill touches the water.

I am building a system to where I have a camera and wide angle lens hidden in a fake rock. I will bring this to the Iceland workshop next year so participants can get up close and personal wide-angle images of Puffins. The camera has a WiFi device that can be operated from your phone up to 100 feet away.

Pacific Loon

Q: Who are some of your favorite wildlife photographers?

A: Since I’m a bird photographer, all these people specialize in birds and have all inspired me.

Jacob Spendelow

Matthew Studebaker

Connor Stefanison

Jess Findlay

Robert Royce

Greg Downing

Brian Small

Q: How has working in nature enhanced your life?

A: As a young boy, I found great solace and peace looking and studying birds in the forests. Now as an adult, I get to not only do this for a living, but I get to share it with many others. To be around other like minded people and to share the wonders of nature, to contribute to conservation, and to travel to amazing places, I surely have the best job in the world.

More of Murphy’s favorite bird photos can be seen here: http://www.alanmurphyphotography.com/favorites.htm

Cinnamon Teal

 

 

Brown Pelican

Least Sandpiper

 

September 25, 2018

Making the beach a safer place for waterbirds and us, one cleanup at a time

Russ Curtis

Coastal Cleanup Day 2018 Team. Photo by Shannon Ross

Here at International Bird Rescue, we dream of a world in which people take action every day to protect the home of wildlife and ourselves. We were thrilled to participate in two trash cleanups this past quarter, one in the San Francisco Bay Area and one in Los Angeles. Bird Rescue looks forward to helping make the beach a safer place for the public, wildlife and especially seabirds. Each year Bird Rescue’s wildlife centers treat hundreds of injured patients that have ingested or become entangled in fishing tackle and trash.

In September, we joined the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council for Coastal Cleanup Day organized by Heal the Bay in Los Angeles. More than 150 volunteers joined us at White Point/Royal Palms Beach in San Pedro for a morning of trash pick up. Together we collected almost 300 pounds of trash!

Our 2019 is now available. Order online

Earlier in the summer, we joined by friends and partners from Golden Gate Audubon, East Bay Regional Park District, City of Oakland, and Lake Merritt Institute for a “Day of Action” honoring the anniversary of our 40-year partnership with Dawn® dishwashing liquid as a way to encourage taking action every day to protect and save wildlife. In July, a team of a dozen volunteers spent the afternoon cleaning up around Lake Merritt. We were able to clean up a significant number of cigarettes, plastic wrappers, and pieces of glass, all of which are quite harmful if ingested by wildlife.

If you’re looking for more tips on how you can take action every day, check out our 2019 calendar! We’ve included eco-friendly suggestions for each month to inspire us all.

We are incredibly thankful for the many volunteers who joined us at these cleanups and all of you who take action in your own life to help protect our shared home.

Lake Merritt Trash Cleanup in Oakland, CA. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

September 23, 2018

Opens House October 20th At San Francisco Bay-Delta Center

Russ Curtis

The public is welcome at International Bird Rescue’s FREE Open House at its San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center in Fairfield.

This family friendly annual open house gives the public an exclusive behind the scenes chance to learn how Bird Rescue rehabilitates injured, orphaned, and sick waterbirds. More than 2,500 bird patients on average come through the doors each year.

This year has been a particularly busy year for the public supported non-profit. At least one hundred stranded young Common Murres, including “Mara the Murre”, flooded the center this summer. It also treated a high number of hungry pelicans that crash landed along Bay Area beaches.

There will also be exhibits, tours, kid’s activities, lectures and a silent auction! Admission is free and it’s all happening on Saturday, Oct. 20th from 12:30 – 4:30 P.M.

We encourage attendees to RSVP: https://bird-rescue.eventbrite.com

September 11, 2018

Public Invited to the 2018 Coastal Cleanup Day

Russ Curtis

September 15th Beach Trash Cleanup Focuses on Debris That Harm and Kill Seabirds

What: Coastal Cleanup Day in San Pedro

Where: White Point/Royal Palms Beach, 1799 West Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro 90731. (Map)

When: Saturday, September 15, 2018 from 9 AM to Noon

International Bird Rescue is joining local community groups, including the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, to help remove beach trash at the 2018 Coastal Cleanup Day on September 15.

Volunteers will pick up refuse along the White Point/Royal Palms Beach in San Pedro. This is one of 50 beach cleanup sites throughout Los Angeles County, and more information about this state-wide event is located here: https://www.coastal.ca.gov/publiced/ccd/ccd.html

The public is invited and encouraged to participate in the cleanup and can register online under White Point Beach.

Bird Rescue looks forward to helping make the beach a safer place for the public, wildlife and especially seabirds. Each year the Bird Rescue’s wildlife center treats hundreds of injured patients that have ingested or become entangled in fishing tackle and trash.

September 7, 2018

Emurregency: Mara the Murre Update #2

Russ Curtis

This young Common Murre, named “Mara”  has put on much needed weight. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

Why how she’s grown!

Mara the murre has tripled in weight since she was rescued in Marin County in late July. She arrived into care hungry and anemic and weighing only 240 grams. Her latest weight: 720 grams.

This Common Murre was named for one of our volunteers who was walking her dogs on the beach and spotted the very small bird bobbing in the surf. Thinking fast, the rescuer asked a passerby to secure her dogs and then scooped up the seabird. Afterward she called Marin Animal Control and the bird was transferred to our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center in Fairfield, California..

The young seabird quickly became the bird ambassador for a seabird crisis that has been hitting the Northern California coast. Since mid-July, over 100 murres (rhymes with “furs”) have been admitted into intensive care. Many were starving, anemic and some were contaminated with oil.

After leaving the nest, Baby murres like Mara learn to forage with their fathers. Without parental guidance, and if left alone in the wild, they would slowly starve to death.

You can help birds like Mara by donating to our E-Murre-gency fund to help pay the extraordinary costs associated with this seabird stranding event. Donate now