Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for January 2008

January 31, 2008

Authorities: Oil on the beach "natural seepage"

The oily mess of tarballs that washed up on Northern California beaches earlier this week is “natural seepage” from the ocean floor and not remnants from the Cosco Busan oil spill, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.

When oil started showing up on beaches from Pacifica to Monterey on Monday, speculation was it might be uncollected oil from the November 7, 2007 spill in San Francisco Bay. Only about 40% of the 53,000 of the bunker fuel oil that spilled has been recovered.

Full story in the San Francisco Chronicle

January 29, 2008

Remnants of Cosco Busan? Tarballs on beaches

Big patches of oil debris and tarballs are washing up on Northern California beaches this week. The first question on people’s minds, is this the remnants of the Cosco Busan oil spill in San Francisco Bay on November 7, 2007?

From Ocean Beach in San Francisco south past San Mateo County beaches, the oily mess has cleanup crews out picking up the debris. Recent storms may be the culprit.

Story from the San Francisco Chronicle

Video report from ABC7-KGO-TV

January 29, 2008

No big surprises: Report criticizes Coast Guard

A new report on the San Francisco Oil Spill response officially released today, won’t surprise most folks. The Coast Guard is roundly criticized for it’s incredibly slow communication the first day of the spill when it took nearly 10 hours to let people know that copius amounts of oil spilled from the Cosco Busan container ship.

The report documents how government agencies failed to get the word out after the ship hit the Bay Bridge at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 7. First reports had the size of the spill at 140 gallons. It wasn’t until almost 5 p.m. that the Coast Guard figured out the spill was 58,000 gallons.

Also the report said the actual amount that spilled into the bay was 53,569 gallons. A total of 44 percent was recovered: 36 percent off the water and another 8 percent along the shoreline.

Many of the communication problems were hampered by language barriers. Coast Guard investigators had a hard time communicating with the Chinese-speaking crew. They had to resort to drawing pictures to find out what happened during the ship’s collision with the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Another disturbing item in the report: some of the Coast Guard officers in charge of the spill response had little understanding of oil spill response and were unfamiliar with the geography of the Bay Area.

At least 2,500 birds died in the spill. Over 400 were cleaned of oil and released back into the wild. IBRRC working with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) helped rehabilitate the birds, mostly scaups, grebes and scoters.

Download the 137 page report (1.6 MB PDF): Incident Specific Preparedness Review (ISPR) M/V Cosco Busan Oil Spill in San Francisco Bay (Acrobat Reader required)

Also see the San Francisco Chronicle online report

And the Carl Nolte followup story: Errors, praise listed in spill report

January 26, 2008

Share your videos of San Francisco oil spill

Do you have video footage of the Cosco Busan oil spill response? Want to share it with others?

The San Francisco Ocean Film Festival wants you to submit your video work of the clean up-efforts, the local animals, beaches and people that have been affected by the November 2007 disaster. Post your videos here
“Everyone is encouraged to contribute raw footage or edited shorts about what they saw, what they did, and how they feel about 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel spilling in our backyard,” say the organizers.

The best clips will be shown at The 2008 San Francisco Ocean Film Festival (SFOFF) at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, Pier 2 in San Francisco, CA 94123-1322 over the weekend of February 1-3. Festival Office Phone: (415) 561-6251 More festival information online

Now in its fifth year, SFOFF celebrates the sea with inspirational films that increase our appreciation of the oceans that surround us. View the beauty and mysteries of the ocean, experience the thrill of saltwater sports, explore coastal cultures, and pause to reflect on the importance of this vital ecosystem.

You can view some of the clips already uploaded to a group’s You Tube space: View the current submissions

Here’s one of our favorites: Ocean Beach interviews >>>>>>

January 24, 2008

Penguins released back to the wild in Argentina

The wildlife response teams working in Patagonia released the first 30 penguins washed of oil today.

“It was very emotional for volunteers and all other groups involved. About 50 or so should be ready on Saturday, said Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director. “There are about 190 penguins left so we are beginning to see the end.”


More than 400 birds including penguins, grebes, cormorants and steamer ducks have been treated at the makeshift oiled bird rehabilitation center along the Patagonia coast in southern Argentina.

A spill occurred on December 27, 2007 at a oil tanker loading facility. An unknown amount of oil spilled over a four kilometer area. The team is still seeing slicks of oil come ashore.

January 23, 2008

One more Argentina oil spill update

Direct from Patagonia, Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director, sent this latest update on the Argentina oil spill response:

Today we finished washing most of the birds accept about 8 of the last penguins. We also washed the 4 new oiled cormorants and 5 rewash cormorants that still had wet underwings meaning that they likely have oil on them. So, other than a bird here and there we are more or less shutting down the wash room for daily activity.

We released 6 steamer ducks at a perfect place where they joined about 80 others. We also released 18 cormorants at the same place and they did equally well.

We then began go grade (check for waterproofing) the first group of penguins for release. We approved 22 penguins that will be released tomorrow and early in the morning we are evaluating another 50 or so. All penguins have been put on a very aggressive swimming schedule that will help them become waterproof asap.

We only have 7 grebes left and will reevaluate them on Friday. We have a total of 9 cormorants and will evaluate them on Sunday or Monday since they were just washed today. We have 3 ducks. One is in treatment for a swollen wing but the other 2 are still wet on their stomachs and they will also evaluated in a few days.

I forgot to mention that another very large slick came to shore yesterday and that was quite discouraging to us. There are more oiled cormorants and an occasional oiled bird here and there. Not sure what will happen after we leave as we made an internal agreement to get the other birds out before we leave and just leave penguins.

See IBRRC website

January 23, 2008

"Washing slimed eagles cleanses soul"

There’s a terrific column by Elise Patkotak in the Anchorage Daily News this week on volunteering to help with the 30 Bald Eagles treated at IBRRC and Bird TLC’s Alaska Center:

“…So far, all the eagles that came to Bird TLC survived not only the slime dive but also the bathing and spraying and blow drying and tube feeding required to get them back on their feet and ready to go out into the wild again, cleaner and hopefully a lot wiser. Though we aren’t holding out a lot of hope on the wiser part. Did I mention they were almost all guys? One can only hope they’ve learned there is no such thing as a free lunch. Unless, of course, you’re at Bird TLC.

Long after these eagles are in their aeries telling their kids about the weird experience they once had when aliens abducted them, probed them, fed them and then freed them, the volunteers who are responsible for the success of this bedraggled group will still be at Bird TLC doing what they do routinely week after week, with or without the glare of the media. They will be cleaning mews, treating sick birds, fixing meals — generally doing their part to help Alaska’s wildlife. More important, doing their part to make this world a little bit kinder and a little bit gentler for all living creatures in it.

It’s what volunteers do. They feed the spiritual life of this nation and make America a great place to live. Don’t believe me? I’ve got a bunch of eagles you can talk to that will back me up 100 percent.”

More: Washing slimed eagles cleanses soul

Multimedia story from Anchorage Daily News

January 23, 2008

Frigatebird treated at IBRRC makes the news

Nice article by Peter Fimrite on the front page of today’s San Francisco Chronicle about the Frigatebird found in Healdsburg and now being treated at IBRRC in Cordelia:

“A giant tropical bird – a type rarely, if ever, seen in the Bay Area – got stuck in the vortex of a hurricane-force Pacific storm this month and took a dizzying Wizard of Oz-like ride hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles off course.

That’s the theory of how it ended up in a tree in Healdsburg.

The gangly, feathered galoot with a hooked beak and wingspan topping 7 feet is recovering at a Bay Area animal rescue center after a couple of bird watchers spotted it in the tree and knew right away that it was alien to Northern California.

It was positively identified Tuesday as a male juvenile magnificent frigatebird, known scientifically as Fregata magnificens. The species is known to inhabit the tropical Atlantic, the Caribbean and Cape Verde Islands. Although frigatebirds breed along the Pacific coast as far north as Mexico, they are most at home in steaming hot equatorial regions like the Galapagos Islands.

“In our entire 37 years, we’ve never treated one in Northern California,” said Monte Merrick, a wildlife rehabilitator for the International Bird Rescue Research Center, in Cordelia. “There have been sightings, but those sightings are rare.”

Read the complete story

See the video report

IBRRC’s website page on the Magnificent Frigatebird

January 22, 2008

Reward now $6,000 for pelican w/arrow in bill

The reward was raised today to $6,000 for information on the culprits that shot this American White Pelican with an arrow earlier this month in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.

Others stepped forward to add another $3,500 to the reward started by the The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS. The reward is for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person (s) responsible for shooting this American White Pelican near Lake Balboa in the Van Nuys/Sepulveda Dam area.

There has been reports that the arrow might be a hobby or kid’s arrow and not from a professional archery set.

If you have any information, please call Rebecca at: 831-869-6241 or the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro at: 310-514-2573.

More information on the IBRRC website

January 22, 2008

Argentina 1/21/08 Update: Oil spill response

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director, who is in Argentina, sent this update from Patagonia oil spill response this evening:

We established today as a big major penguin washing day so that we can wrap this spill up. With water issues and other problems we have only been able to wash a total of 25 or so penguins a day and we really wanted to do 30 to 40 a day. A few days ago we decided that we would do a long wash day and intend to do 50 to 60 penguins. That only leaves 30 or so oiled penguins left to wash and 10 of those are the weak ones that will go through the process once they are approved. So, today we washed a total of 50 Penguins leaving only 35 left to do and 5 of those are going to wait so only 30 to wash tomorrow.

Tomorrow we are re-evaluating all 29 King Cormorants and intend to release as many as possible the next day. We know a few have oil under their wings and have to be rewashed.

We are also re-evaluating the steamer ducks. We know 2 have to stay back because of problems but maybe the rest can go. Sergio and I worked a long time on getting them to feed and now the eat real well. We hung tarps on the pools so they are not very stressed during the day so that has improved life for them and they actually started eating when I was in the cage today.

We released another 12 Great Grebes today. They are some of the meanest birds I have ever cared for but one of the most exquisite looking birds. We only have 10 left so I am happy. I have been very stressed with dealing with the aggression and they have managed to kill a few of their pool mates and scalp some others. I have a pool of 3 scalped ones that need to start to grow feathers in by next week. Their waterproofing has been flawless from day one and that is amazing since I have NEVER cleaned their cages. There is no way to do that because it water is so cloudy. You cannot see the bottom and they eat the fish that falls on the bottom. This waterproofing is one of the things that has worked out for them and it is because Rudolpho set us such a brilliant system. Many of the keep sores have resolved and that is amazing also. Great birds and maybe the desert air, soft water and the type of fish they eat combine to make a good pool environment. Who knows?

The penguins are doing well, eating a lot and swimming increasing amounts every day and we will start to evaluate the first bunch of them for release starting Wed at the latest.

Some oil got stirred up from somewhere in the local harbor and today we heard there was an oiled cormorant on the breakwater about 4 blocks from here where some sea lions hang out. We are in the backside of a small fishing village and the ladies at the local school provide us with lunch every day so we walk or drive there to eat. Anyway, Valeria and I were going to lunch and went to check out the cormorant and within a half an hour I captured 3 very oiled cormorants and had a few close encounters with the sea lions. Another cormorant swam away but one of the local guys caught it later. So, we now have 4 new oiled cormorants. The good thing is that they are very healthy and we will probably be able to wash them on Wednesday and get them through the system quickly. It is disturbing as there is oil all over the rocks and beaches and they stopped clean up. All the locals are very unhappy.

We also got an oiled South American Tern in that is missing feathers on one wing and will go to Patagonia Natural’s rehab program in Punta Tumbo until it gets it molts and gets new feathers.

There was mui dramatico incident yesterday as Valeria would call it. Some of the fisherman staged a demonstration that they call a manifestation and blocked our road and the main road a few killometers from here. They burnt tires and were loud but peaceful to us. They let us through after the locals told them to not bother the volunteers and all the various bird rehab people like us so we all left at the same time and they passed us through the road block. That was good. Once again they were saying that the penguins are more important than them, etc. and they were making a point to the local government. They made the front page of the local paper but were gone today.

That is really about it for now. I have been sending pictures for the web site and you can see them there. We explained to everyone here that we have 10 days left for us to get the small birds released and get the penguins started on their release and then leave the remaining penguins in the capable hands of the people from Patagonia Natural and the guys from Cabo Vergines, where we worked last year. They will take charge of seeing the remaining penguins out the door.

Adios,
Jay

See IBRRC website

January 21, 2008

Daily Breeze editorial: Pelican shot by arrow

Under the ‘we couldn’t have said it much better’ column:

“Few things highlight the capacity for pointless cruelty by humans more than the injured pelican at Encino’s Lake Balboa. Someone shot the poor thing in the beak with an arrow, and now it can’t even eat.

Why someone would torture an elegant creature that beautifies the park is simply unfathomable. But with the bad comes the good. This creature’s suffering has also highlighted the awesome capacity for compassion by humans: Many people are trying to help the pelican survive. The caring people include officials at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro, who have been attempting to track down the ailing bird.

We can only hope that they reach the bird before it succumbs to its injuries – and that the perpetrator is caught before going on to other senseless brutality toward any of God’s creatures.”

– From the Daily Breeze newspaper January 20, 2008 editorial on the blight of an American White Pelican shot in the bill by an arrow. More info on the IBRRC website

January 21, 2008

SF Bay spill restoration: Public forums Jan. 22 & 29

The six government agencies responsible for the restoration of the San Francisco Bay after the Cosco Busan oil spill, will hold two public meetings in January 2008.

The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 11 AM. The location of the meeting is First Floor Auditorium at the Elihu M. Harris State Building, 1515 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94601. Building info and location

The second meeting will be held Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 6:30 PM in the Cascade Room at the Mill Valley Community Center 180 El Camino Alto, Mill Valley, CA 94941. See map to the location

According to webpage for California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), “the primary purpose of the meetings is to provide an opportunity for the public and other organizations to learn about the restoration process and to provide any additional information and data they collected.”

The November 7, 2007 spill killed at least 2,500 birds after 58,000 gallons of bunker crude oil spilled into the bay. Less than a third of the oil has been recovered.

IBRRC update

San Francisco Chronicle story

January 19, 2008

Searching for pelican with arrow shot in bill

Wildlife capture specialists from International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro are joining forces in attempts to rescue a juvenile American White Pelican near Lake Balboa, shot in the bill by an arrow. The archery arrow pierced the upper and lower portions of the bill, sealing the bird’s mouth shut. It has been this way for over one week. A $2,500 reward is being offered to catch the culprits.

The pelican has been spotted several times over the past week in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, especially at Lake Balboa in Woodley Park in Van Nuys.

A hotline to report the bird’s whereabouts has been created. Please call: 831-869-6241

The Humane Society Of The United States is also offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who shot this federally protected bird.

More info:

Full IBRRC report

Download reward poster

Media reports:

Injured pelican’s time may be running out, Los Angeles Daily News

Pelican With Arrow Through Beak Sought, CBS-TV 2 video report

January 19, 2008

Good news from Argentina oil spill response

The first bunch of grebes cleaned of oil at the Patagonia mystery spill in Argentina were released this week.

In all, 14 Great Grebes were set free into the wild. At least 50 volunteers showed up to celebrate the release. They have been working with the IBRRC/IFAW response team to help remove the oil from the bird’s feathers following the December 26, 2007 spill.

According to IBRRC’s Executive Director, Jay Holcomb who has been working on the spill for 10 days: “Lots of tears and thank yous…They lost over 200 grebes. There are about 38 more grebes left at the center. We think most will be released in a few days.”

See Argentina IBRRC’s spill response web page

January 19, 2008

New revelations in spill: Ship pilot’s sleep disorder

More information has surfaced in the Cosco Busan’s collision with the San Francisco Bay Bridge and the subsequent spilling of 58,000 gallons. The latest investigation involves the ship pilot who has revealed he was under medication for sleep apnea, a disorder that causes a person’s breathing to become impaired leading to bouts of sleepiness.

John Cota, 59 was taking the drug Provigil that in some cases “may impair your judgment, thinking, or motor skills.” The warnings continue: “You should not drive a car or operate hazardous machinery until you know how this medication affects you.”

Cota was helping guidie the Cosco Busan out of San Francisco Bay when it side-swiped the bridge in dense fog on November 7, 2007. The bunker fuel that spilled from the 900-foot Hong Kong flagged container ship killed at least 2,500 birds and closed beaches and shoreline for weeks.

See AP story: Pilot’s sleep disorder investigated in SF oil spill