Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

August 27, 2014

Devastating fish hook injuries, but a pelican’s pluck prevails

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Photos by Kelly Berry

BRPEThis Brown Pelican was brought to our Los Angeles center on August 18 from the Long Beach area, where it was found wrapped in a large amount of fishing tackle. Rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports that one lure had four fishing hooks of various sizes, two treble hooks and a long strand of fishing line.

All six hooks were embedded into the bird’s wings, causing puncture wounds and wing droop. The good news is that all hooks and line were removed, and the pelican’s wounds are healing well.

Fishing hooks and fishing line are such a pervasive problem for seabirds, and a leading cause of injury in the birds we care for at our California centers. If you fish, be mindful of where your gear ends up. We know there are many fishermen who are responsible, and it’s our wish that you’ll spread this message to others. We are grateful that you set a good example out on the water and at the cleaning stations.

And we can all do our part by picking up plastic pollution and discarded gear wherever we see it in the marine environment. You may end up saving a wild bird’s life.

You can learn more on this issue at the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project’s website.

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August 27, 2014

NatGeo: Icelandic seabird colonies in peril

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Photo by Frans Lanting, National Geographic

Troubling news out of Iceland, the world’s primary breeding ground for such amazing seabirds as puffins and razorbills, and a veritable “Serengeti for fish-eating birds.”

National Geographic reports on the dramatic decline of seabird colonies and horrendous chick die-offs:

“There are just dead chicks everywhere,” said Freydis Viafusdottir, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Exeter in Cornwall, England. “Not only do you have to provide your field assistants with food and shelter, but also some psychological help after many, many days of collecting dead chicks.”

Similar trends have been reported throughout the North Atlantic, including Norway, Scotland and the Faroe Islands.

Researchers interviewed blamed climate change for disturbing sensitive breeding seasons and adversely affecting fish populations on which seabirds depend:

“What is happening in Iceland, we see happening in so many other areas in the North Atlantic. And the fact that we’re seeing them over such a wide area points to a common factor … and that is climate change,” said Aevar Petersen, a retired Icelandic Institute of Natural History ornithologist.

Other experts place the blame squarely on over-zealous commercial fishing practices that have decimated capelin numbers.

Read the full story here.

August 26, 2014

Released! White-faced Ibis

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

WFIBThe White-faced Ibis who graced our online birdcam has been released!

As you may remember, this juvenile bird was found near Natomas, CA with a broken wing and brought to an animal shelter on July 27 before transfer to our San Francisco Bay center. Diagnosis: a fractured radius and ulna.

Our staff veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, pinned the injury, and this patient graduated through several enclosures at the center before release in local wetlands (see release photo below).

This is the first grown ibis we’ve worked with in quite some time. But we’ve had plenty of experience with baby ibises: In 2007, a White-faced Ibis colony in a Sacramento Valley rice field was disturbed, leading us to care for 78 live babies and 100 eggs.Read about this story via our archives.

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August 19, 2014

International Bird Rescue teams up with the Port of Long Beach!

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Today, we’re excited to announce a new partnership with our friends at the Port of Long Beach to protect and honor the birds of our beloved coastal ecoystems! As part of this collaboration, the Port has committed $20,000 in 2014 to the care of our bird patients!

Here’s the backstory on this partnership:

A few months ago, the Port stepped forward to help us care for Pink the Pelican, a California Brown Pelican found in Long Beach with his pouch mutilated from ear to ear. News outlets nicknamed the bird “Pink” for his temporary leg band during the bird’s stay at our wildlife center in nearby San Pedro.

The perpetrators of this animal cruelty act have yet to be found. But thanks in part to The Port of Long Beach and its Green Port Policy, we were successful in giving Pink a second chance out in the wild.

So in the spirit of Pink, we’ve teamed up with the Port to bring you more stories of seabirds and shorebirds that are harmed by the human environment, yet receive expert treatment by our animal care staff. Each featured bird is symbolically “adopted” by our Port friends, who will support the animal from intake to joyful release.

AMAVThis month’s featured patient: An orphaned American Avocet.

Long-legged and often found in fresh and saltwater wetlands, the American Avocet is instantly recognized by its distinctive upturned bill that the bird uses in a sweeping motion to catch small aquatic prey in shallow water and mudflats.

This avocet was brought to us as an orphan after it was found abandoned in an industrial area. Our staff has raised the baby bird from incubator to outdoor aviary, where this avocet currently is located.

American Avocets depend on some of Southern California’s last remaining wetlands, including the nearby Ballona Creek and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach.

Tomorrow, we’ll be showing you an up-close-and-personal look at this bird during a routine exam by the wildlife rehabilitation team.

If you’d like to “adopt” your own animal, there are many to choose from at many different levels of support. Learn more by clicking here.

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August 15, 2014

Golden Eagle entangled in barbed wire

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

GOEASoon after sunrise on August 14, this Golden Eagle was found entangled in a barbed wire fence by our very own San Francisco Bay center volunteer and outreach coordinator, Cheryl Reynolds.

Despite the awful predicament you see in the photo above, the eagle luckily was located at the Grizzly Island Wildlife Complex not far from our wildlife center.

With the help of volunteer Kathy Koehler and a local CalTrans biologist who happened to drive by, the team was able to cut the wire on each side of the bird. However, one barb had punctured the eagle’s leg, requiring the medical attention of our staff.

With the eagle under anesthesia, Dr. Rebecca Duerr (shown below with center manager Michelle Bellizzi assisting) successfully removed the barb during surgery on Thursday morning.

The eagle was later transferred to raptor specialists at Lindsay Wildlife Museum. The bird’s prognosis remains very guarded as it may have nerve damage to the leg and a respiratory problem.

Raptor entanglement with barbed wire is a common problem seen by wildlife rehabilitators. Here’s another such story via Teton Raptor Center in Wyoming.

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds and Isabel Luevano

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"Barbed wire that was removed from Golden Eagle #14-2708 leg"

 

August 15, 2014

The week in bird news, August 15

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Yellow-billed Cuckoo via Wikimedia Commons

• The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking to protect over a half-million acres across the western United States as critical habitat for the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, whose population has been decimated by dams, livestock grazing and other environmental factors.

“The designation of critical habitat is an important step in recovering the western yellow-billed cuckoo,” said Jennifer Norris, Field Supervisor for the Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “Critical habitat identifies areas with essential nesting and fledgling sites where conservation actions are needed to protect and recover this imperiled songbird.”

Comments on the proposed habitat rule are being accepted through October 14. Read the full USFWS press release here.

The proposal promises to be a flashpoint on Capitol Hill, Politico reports. [Sierra Sun Times]

index• Big game poachers are poisoning African White-backed Vultures (pictured right) because their circling behavior above slaughtered elephant carcasses often tips off authorities. [Yale Environment 360]

• Marine biologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Sylvia Earle’s Netflix documentary Mission Blue premieres today. [Grist]

• CNN offers up some glorious clickbait with this round-up of summer aquatic bird photographs, including a wonderful White Tern. [CNN.com]

• How the California drought is crushing the Tricolored Blackbird population. [Audubon]

• Oy. Federal wildlife officials are trying to keep people and pets off Passage Key, a four-acre barrier island near Tampa Bay that’s become a weekend hotspot for beachgoers, some of them nude. The sandbar is a protected nesting spot, officials say.

“We want visitors to understand the ecological importance of this island,” said Ivan Vicente, visitor services specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “There aren’t many sandbars left for seabirds and shorebirds to nest and rest. As long as visitors remain in the water around the island, the seabirds and shorebirds will successfully continue to nest in Passage Key.” [Fox 13 News-Tampa]

• At SeaWorld, the world’s first “test-tube penguin.” [Daily Mail]

Tweets of the week:

August 14, 2014

A side-by-side comparison …

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Photo by Isabel Luevano

Yes, this orphaned Black Rail chick really is the size of a cotton ball.

This photo was taken during the chick’s brief afternoon weight check (good news, weight is up!). We’re working with researchers of this rare and little-understood species to photo-document the chick as it grows while avoiding human interaction whenever possible.

August 12, 2014

Our cottonball-sized patient of the week: Black Rail chick

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Photo by Isabel Luevano

Dear friends,

In a cozy, leafy incubator within International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center, you’ll find the smallest aquatic bird patient we’ve ever cared for.

This is an orphaned baby Black Rail, an elusive bird and a threatened species in California due to habitat loss. The cottonball-sized chick was found at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma, CA, and recently was transferred to International Bird Rescue from our friends and partners at WildCare in San Rafael.

BLRAIt’s our first baby Black Rail, and though we limit human interaction with our avian patients whenever possible, we’re all awestruck by just how tiny and precious this bird is.

For a bird so rarely seen, Black Rails have become increasingly common patients. Several adult Black Rails we’ve cared for this year have been rescued after being disturbed and attacked by pets. To help build scientific knowledge of this little-understood animal, we work with the Black Rail Project at the University of California-Berkeley to band these birds, which aids in post-release research.

International Bird Rescue’s team of experts is well equipped to care for sensitive species – endangered, threatened or near threatened. These include the Marbled Murrelet, Ashy Storm Petrel, Snowy Plover and Piping Plover.

Whether it’s a rare Black Rail or a plucky Mallard duckling, we need your help to keep our wildlife centers running year-round for thousands of animals brought to us each year. Please make a donation today. Your contribution will provide much-needed support for wild birds we all love.

Sincerely,

Barbara Signature

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

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Update: The San Francisco Chronicle is on the story …

August 9, 2014

Photographers in Focus: Karen Schuenemann

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Black-crowned Night Heron, all images © Karen Schuenemann, KarenSchuenemann.com

Karen-S-Photographer-in-FocusOf all the images we’ve seen of the Black-crowned Night Heron this summer — and there have been many — this photo of a solitary juvenile bird by photographer Karen Schuenemann is one of our favorites.

Our latest featured photographer, Schuenemann is an avid birder and photographer in the Los Angeles area, where she lives and works as a retail manager.

Her off-duty pursuits? “My personal mission is capturing the urban wildlife in Southern California,” Schuenemann says. “It often amazes me how wildlife survives squeezed in between construction, roads and people. I have spent many hours watching Peregrine Falcons nest on the cliffs of San Pedro. I’ve had the opportunity to watch the parents catch their food and return to feed the youngsters. To observe the youngsters grow and take their first flight has been truly breathtaking.”

To celebrate one of the nation’s most biodiverse regions for birds (L.A. – who knew?) we asked Schuenemann to share some of her favorite shots.

Great Blue Heron, Karen Schuenemann
Schuenemann: This is a landscape on a misty morning at Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach, CA. Photographed: Great Blue Heron.

Black Skimmers,  Karen Schuenemann
These Black Skimmers were foraging in the early evening at Bolsa Chica Wetlands. The calm waters allow prey to rise towards the surface and the Skimmers’ long lower mandibles allow them to locate the fish by touch and quickly shut their mouths and have their meal.

Burrowing Owl, Karen Schuenemann
Photographed near Chino, CA: I recently encountered several Burrowing Owls that live right next to the road in a dirt patch separating a power plant and a park!

Snowy Egret, Karen Schuenemann
Taken at Bolsa Chica Wetlands, this Great Egret was captured at sunrise.
Reddish Egret, Karen Schuenemann
An uncommon sighting at Bolsa Chica Wetlands, I watched this Reddish Egret perform its unusual feeding behavior before it flew over the pond.

Peregrine Falcon, Karen Schuenemann
Taken on the cliffs of the Palos Verdes peninsula, this young Peregrine Falcon had just fledged and was practicing its flying skills.
Forsters Terns, Karen Schuenemann
Upon return of the female, these juvenile Forster’s Terns rejoiced with loud calls and jumping towards the mother at Bolsa Chica, attempting to get the meal that she brought back.

Tree Swallows, Karen Schuenemann
Bird boxes set up at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary allow Tree Swallows to build their nests. Many possible nesting sites are destroyed in the forestry process of removing dead trees. Tree Swallows are common in open fields as well as marshes.

Double-crested Cormorant, Karen Schuenemann
Double-crested Cormorant: Taken at El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach, CA, this cormorant emerged suddenly with its catch of the day.

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This Brown Pelican was plunge diving and I captured the image before it brought its pouch out of the water. 

Snowy Egret 2, Karen Schuenemann
Great Egret at Bolsa Chica Wetlands, I entitled this image “Circle of Life.”  Since the population was decimated in the late 1800s and subsequently protected, the species is increasing. However, without habitats such as the Bolsa Chica Wetlands restoration, we wouldn’t have the population on the rise.

***

If you would like to be considered as a featured wildlife photographer for International Bird Rescue, or would like to recommend a photographer for this regular feature, please e-mail us with your submission.

And check out some of our previous featured photographers, including Jackie Wollner of Los Angeles, Yeray Seminario of Spain,  Graham McGeorge of Florida and Christopher Taylor of Venice, Calif.

August 8, 2014

The week in bird news, August 8

Bird-Rescue

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Photo by Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia Commons

• New York-based Friends of Animals is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over a now-shuttered program to kill Snowy Owls at New York’s Kennedy International Airport. On Friday, a federal judge heard arguments from the animal rights group , which is seeking to change policies of avian removal at the nation’s sixth busiest airport, located adjacent a key habitat for aquatic birds and migratory species. Snowy Owls showed up from Washington, D.C. to Boston during this past (and frigid) winter. [New York Times]

• Also in the bird hazing department at major airports: A Dutch company is using 3-D printing to produce “raptor drones” that could be used to scare away birds and avoid bird strikes with commercial aircraft. [Motherboard]

• A mine tailings pond dam collapse in British Columbia spilled millions of cubic meters of effluent into local waterways. Preliminary water tests in the area met drinking water standards, and while B.C. Premier Christy Clark called the test results “promising,” she stipulated, “We are profoundly concerned about what happened.” Wigeons, pintails and grebes are all common species in the area. [Vancouver Sun]

• Rancor ensues over the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, decried as a “death trap” for birds. [Mother Jones]

• Marine plastic pollution research isn’t limited to the oceans. Scientists off the coast of Lebanon are studying the effect of microplastics in the eastern Mediterranean. [The Daily Star-Lebanon]

• An abundance of prey in California’s Monterey Bay has been attracting seabirds as well as Humpback Whales. Officials are now warning the public to keep distance from this gentle giants. [CBS-SF Bay Area]

• A terrific citizen science/workplace procrastination opportunity: Help Audubon study the Puffins of Maine! [ABC News]

• BirdCam we’re watching right now: Long-eared Owl Cam, Missoula MT via Explore.org. And check out our White-faced Ibis on our BirdCam Project!

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