Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for December 2008

December 29, 2008

"Drill, baby, drill" mantra to have its way off coast?

The Bush administration is reviving a 1980s plan to open Northern California coastal waters to offshore oil drilling, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. >>>>>>>>>> See: Map of California coast >>>>>

Read: Drillers eye oil reserves off California coast

Both of the nation’s coasts have been protected from any more offshore oil drilling since 1981. The ban ended this year after not being renewed by Congress. See: Gulf Coast States Mull Over Oil Drilling Ban

Proponents may have a crack at the 10 billion barrels believed to lie in California waters. This may be enough to supply the nation for about 17 months. Ever since high gas prices and unrest in the Middle East, oil companies and politicians have been clamoring for increased domestic drilling here on both coasts. The Republican party made it a rallying cry at its 2008 convention when current chair of GOPAC, Michael Steele, delivered the infamous, “Drill, baby, drill” line in his speech.

Here in California, residents have generally opposed drilling since the 1969 Santa Barbara platform blowout that leaked 3 million gallons crude oil killing dolphins, seals, otters and thousands of seabirds. See: History of 1969 spill

A recent poll declares 51% in this state are in favor of offshore oil drilling. Others fear increased oil spills and damage to environment. Incoming president-elect Barrack Obama hasn’t been locked down on an offshore oil drilling ban. He does prefer more investment in solar, wind and geothermal. He also believes nuclear energy can be better utilized.

December 23, 2008

With arrow gone, "Pinky" the turkey back to wild

Good news for Pinky the young male wild turkey who had an arrow lodged in its flank for six weeks: It was caught on Friday, treated and released this weekend in Castro Valley.

Rebecca Dmytryk,of WildRescue with her husband Duane Titus should be credited for their determination in capturing the bird. Over the weekend the arrow was removed at IBRRC’s bird center and today the turkey was released back to the same area it was trapped, at Don Castro Regional Park.

The turkey underwent a two hour surgery to remove the arrow at IBRRC’s Fairfield bird center. The embedded arrow was causing the bird to noticeably limp. However, the arrow also was functioning as a splint for its fractured femur.

Pinky is most likely a North American wild turkey, Meleagris gallapavo. Wild turkeys can run at least 12 miles per hour when being pursued. They also can fly over 50 miles per hour, unless they were pinioned at a young age when being raised as domestic birds.

News reports:
Bay City News

Video of Pinky:

December 23, 2008

Holiday greetings and 2008 update from IBRRC

From: Jay Holcomb, Executive Director of IBRRC:

Hi everyone. I wanted to wrap up the year by telling you what we are up to and just wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. To most people this time of year is a time for celebrating and being with family and friends. It is the same for us also but at IBRRC we spend a lot of time NOT talking about oil spills during the holidays hoping that if we don’t acknowledge them then they won’t happen. Instead we just keep our fingers crossed, hoping that an oil spill will not happen and we wont be called into action. It comes from years of sacrificing holidays to oil spills. Make no mistake, its an honor for us to care for the birds in an oil spill but it is rarely convenient and always difficult. That is why we call this time of the year our, “oil spill season”. It is the season that we see the most oil spills.

We have had some close calls so far this year and one spill that we responded to in Santa Barbara. A few weeks ago there was a spill in Santa Barbara and we responded as a participant organization of California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN). Only 3 oiled birds, two grebes and one red throated loon, were captured and rehabilitated in the San Pedro center. Unfortunately the loon died but the two grebes survived and were released on December 18 in San Pedro.

On Friday, December 19, we were put on alert for a possible spill in San Pablo Bay. A tanker carrying about 272,500 barrels of diesel fuel grazed the bottom of Pinole Shoal Channel in the San Pablo Bay off the coast of Rodeo. Luckily there was no oil spilled but it did nothing for our already frayed nerves. It was a close one and frankly, I was really angry when I heard of this close call. Not because of the possible loss of our holidays but because it was just a year after the Cosco Busan spill and, once again, we were shown how vulnerable the San Francisco Bay is and how in one moment everything can change. There are literally hundreds of thousands of migrating birds, ducks, shorebirds, grebes and loons, using that section of the bay right now and a spill would have been disastrous to them. Fresh spilled diesel fuel is usually deadly to these animals and often burns the lungs of the birds as they breath the fumes. It also burns their sensitive skin. We experience our highest mortality rates with highly refined fuels such as diesel and jet fuels.

Its not always oil spills that we see this time of year. On Saturday we took in a beautiful male wild turkey who was the victim of a an intentional attack. This male turkey has regularly visited the yard of some Castro Valley residents for many years but for the last 6 weeks it showed up in the yard with an arrow through its body. The turkey is one member of a flock of turkeys that live in this neighborhood and are fed and supported by kind and compassionate individuals. Our colleagues and response team members, Duane and Rebecca Titus of WildRescue, worked diligently to design a special trap to capture the bird and bring it to our center for care. After weeks of working out the kinks they captured the bird on Saturday and brought it to our clinic in Cordelia. Shannon Riggs, our on site veterinarian who is provide to us through the OWCN, managed by the University of California at Davis, removed the arrow and cleaned its wounds. The arrow was shot with such force that it broke the femur in one leg and went through the other side of the birds body. X-rays and an exam indicated that the leg had healed. Although not perfect or straight, it was still healed. The bird remained at the center until today, December 22, when it was taken back to Castro Valley and released back into its flock. This Christmas turkey was one of the lucky ones.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to IBRRC over the last year. We are grateful and the animals have benefited from your generosity. Thank you!

With fingers crossed that we don’t experience an oily or busy holiday season, we at IBRRC wish you all a joyful Christmas, happy Hanukkah and abundant New Year.

December 11, 2008

Santa Barbara spill update: 3 oiled birds in care

According to the California’s Oiled Care Network (OWCN), three live oiled birds are now in care following the Sunday morning leak near a Santa Barbara Channel oil platform. (Photo above of Grebe: Erica Lander/IBRRC)

The birds are being treated at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in San Pedro. IBRRC co-manages this center as a member of OWCN. This is the OWCN’s largest oiled bird response facility in Southern California.

Greg Massey, OWCN Assistant Director, says:

“The birds are being given supportive care (food, fluids, and supplemental heat). We’ll monitor blood tests, body temperature and weight to determine when they are stable enough to be cleaned. This is a critical time for the birds as they begin to regain strength and fight the external and internal effects of oiling.”

IBRRC has three staff members in the Santa Barbara area assisting in the search and collection of oiled animals. Our organization is a proud member of OWCN, which is statewide collective of wildlife care providers and regional facilities interested in working with oil-affected wildlife.

Meantime, most of the spilled oil near Platform A has been cleaned up. A total of 1,400 gallons of oil (34 barrels) has been mopped up. Officials raised the amount of oil spilled since the December 7, 2008 incident. At one time the amount was reportedly 1,100 gallons. (Note: The standard oil barrel is 42 US gallons)

Platform A was the site of the massive January 29, 1969 oil spill. For eleven days, 3 million gallons of crude spewed out of the well, as oil workers struggled to cap the rupture.

Any injured wildlife should be reported to 877-823-6926.

Also see the new OWCN blog and website for more info.

December 9, 2008

IBRRC activated in Santa Barbara oil leak

Three members of IBRRC’s oil response team have been dispatched to a small oil leak off the coast of Santa Barbara. At least 1,134 gallons (27 barrels) were reportedly spilled on Sunday, December 7, 2008.

No oiled birds have been found. On Tuesday team leaders from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) will help coordinate the search for possible oiled animals.

A total of 882 gallons that spilled has been recovered. The spill is near Platform A in the Santa Barbara Channel about six miles offshore of Summerland. The company operating the platform, DCOR LLC, reported the spill Sunday morning when workers noticed an oily sheen around the platform. See map below.

Platform A was the site of the massive January 29, 1969 oil spill. For eleven days, 3 million gallons of crude spewed out of the well, oil workers struggled to cap the rupture. Blown by winds and swells the oil created a 800 square mile slick. See history of spill

Following the 1969 spill, Earth Day was born nationwide. Many people consider the oil spill a major impetus to the modern environmental movement.

News reports:

Los Angeles Times


Santa Barbara Indepedent

View Larger Map

December 7, 2008

Shearwaters being decimated on the island of Maui

The beauty and birdlife along the northeast coast of Maui is being tested again, this time by a likely suspect of loose dogs in Waihee Refuge. Officials recently found Wedge-tailed Shearwaters killed by predators who decimated the entire population of the seabirds.

The indigenous dusky brown birds are among the most common Hawaiian seabirds. The wailing sound made by these birds called from their burrows at night inspired the Hawaiian name, “uau kani” which means “calling or moaning petrel.” The birds are important to the island’s ecosystem as they help bring nutrients from the sea back to the land.

Read more in The Maui News

View Larger Map

December 3, 2008

Additional wildlife training classes added

Due to the overwhelming public response, IBRRC has added additional wildlife emergency training classes for January, February and March 2009. The classes will be held in Berkeley, Oakland, Fremont and Santa Cruz. A class in Southern California is also scheduled.

See updated list on our website

The first day-long wildlife rescue classes, designed by WildRescue’s Rebecca Dmytryk, will be offered at IBRRC’s Fairfield, CA bird center on Sunday, December 7, 2008. Sign-up now

Participants will be taught successful capture strategies and handling and restraint methods of native species, regulations, re-nesting of young, first aid and stabilization, and disaster response. Completion of this class does not in any way exempt students from local, state, and federal laws governing the capture and possession of oiled or non-oiled wildlife.

Each class is from 8 AM to 5 PM. The fee for the class is $40

The classes are only open to those 18 years and older.

See the San Jose Mercury News story: Training available for animal rescue volunteers

December 1, 2008

Cosco Busan spill: What birds species were affected

In all the rush of news from the Cosco Busan spill, we neglected to post this “Bird Injury Summary” from the spill. It was collected by the government agencies involved in the spill.

The report shows the number and species of birds collected live and dead and includes a chart showing the bird collection numbers by day during the November 2007 spill.


• Highest number of affected species was the Surf Scoter at 766
• Next highest: Western Grebe at 404
• More than 200 birds were collected four days after the spill

Download the PDF here