Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for July 2009

July 28, 2009

Photo of the week: Releasing Brown Pelicans

Back to the wild in San Pedro, CA with our release of rehabilitated Brown Pelicans.

These beautiful pelicans were taken care of at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center (LABCEC) in Southern California.

Over the years, IBRRC has treated thousands of Pelicans at its two California bird centers. Thanks to contributions and foundation grants, our bird centers each have 100-foot pelican aviaries to help these majestic birds recuberate from injuries, sickness and stress.

How can you help? Adopt a Pelican!

Details about Pelicans in Peril

July 28, 2009

Learn about birds and help scientists, too

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has posted live cameras at active bird’s nests throughout the country since 1999, and they want to share the 8 million images they have collected with the public. In addition, those who create an online account and sort and tag images can earn points for prizes, and help scientists learn more about the nesting behavior of birds and how they respond to threats to their environment.

The progam is called CamClickr, and its a year-round citizen science project carried out completely online that allows cam viewers to “tag” and classify breeding behaviors from our archived images. CamClickr will help us answer questions that can only be answered using the cams while providing scientists with a tool to search and sort images once they are tagged.

More info: http://watch.birds.cornell.edu/nestcams/clicker/clicker/index

July 22, 2009

DAWN ad song strikes a chord: Purdy’s "Wash Away"


We’ve had a lot of questions about the beautiful song that accompanies the recent DAWN commercial that kicked off the “Dawn Wildlife Champions” program this summer.

The song is by singer/songwriter Joe Purdy and it was on his “Julie Blue” album that was released in 2004. The song is “Wash Away (Reprise) and you can listen to more of this terrific music on his album on Purdy’s website.

The “Wash Away” tune was also featured on the first season of the hit ABC-TV series “Lost.” Purdy self published all his music through his own label, Joe Purdy Records.

Joe is from Arkansas and after working on a loading dock and as a high school counselor broke into the L.A. music scene with his StompinGrounds in 2003.

Additional Joe Purdy info here

July 22, 2009

Outpouring of help for Dawn Wildlife Champions

Thanks to all the folks for signing up their purchased bottles of DAWN this month. As of today, nearly 10,000 people have registered online to help become a Dawn Wildlife Champions.

Each bottle of Dawn you purchase can contribute one dollar* to the important wildlife conservation efforts of the Marine Mammal Center and the International Bird Rescue Research Center.

If you’re interested in seeing how your state is doing go to the site and check the state by state donation counter. Texas still leads the online donations.

Otherwise, keep up the great work. We really appreciate your efforts!

*Up to $500,000 worth of donations.

July 18, 2009

Cosco Busan ship pilot gets 10 months in jail

This week a federal judge finally sentenced the ship pilot to 10 months in prison for his responsibility in the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill in the San Francisco Bay that caused widespread bird deaths.

Capt. John Cota, 61, of Petaluma, CA is the first ship’s pilot in U.S. maritime history to be sent to prison for a shipping accident.

During a brief statement at the end of the hourlong hearing in Federal court Friday, Cota apologized to the judge and the public for the harm he had caused.

“Pilots view themselves as protectors of the environment,” he was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle story. “That’s why it is painful to have played a role in an accident that has damaged it.”

The ship’s pilot was helping guide the Cosco Busan container ship out of San Francisco Bay when it struck the SF Bay Bridge in heavy fog on an early morning in November 2007. More than 50,000 gallons of bunker crude spilled into the bay and spread to area beaches.

In sentencing Cota, Judge Illston told him the jail time reflects lawmakers efforts to punish criminally negiligent parties following the horrific Exxon Valdez spill.

Following the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill of 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska, the tanker’s captain, Joseph Hazelwood, was fined only $50,000 but did’t spent any time in jail.

During the Cosco Busan spill thousands of birds were killed by the fast spreading spill. IBRRC working with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), helped rescue and rehabilitate more than 420 birds that were returned to the wild.

Read more: San Francisco Chronicle story

Also see: After the Cosco Busan spill

July 16, 2009

Photo of the Week: Green Heron

Still plenty of baby and juvenile birds coming into IBRRC’s San Pedro bird Center – this Green Heron is currently being fostered in an outdoor habitat, complete with several branches to climb and perch on, to promote correct foot development.

According to Cornell Lab’s All About Birds: The Green Heron is small, stocky wading bird, and is common in wet spots across much of North America. It can be difficult to see as it stands motionless waiting for small fish to approach within striking range, but it frequently announces its presence by its loud squawking.

Read more: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Green_Heron/lifehistory

July 16, 2009

Mysterious sea-going goo causing alarm in Alaska

A giant mass of goo has been spotted drifting through the Chukchi Sea in Alaska.

Hunters first noticed the slime early last week, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The substance is dark and thick and can be seen for miles in the sea.

The U.S. Coast Guard is sure the mystery gunk is a biological creation and has ruled out an oil spill or hazardous substance.

The odorous substance, which has been described variously as “goey”, “gunky” and “hairy” has been also been found of the coast of Barrow, 72 miles north east of Wainwright.

Read more: Alaska Daily News story

July 10, 2009

Video of Week: Baby Pied-billed Grebe

This baby Pied-billed Grebe has been with us a couple of weeks. It came to us when it was only a day or so old. It is growing fast and weighed 34 grams this morning. Its
current home is an incubator in ICU at IBRRC’s Fairfield, CA bird center.

In the wild baby grebes will take short swims and then climb onto their mothers back for warmth and protections. This bird spends much of the time snuggling into a soft feather duster when not swimming. A small mirror placed next to the feather duster allows him to see himself, thereby socializing with another grebe.

During the day the chick is fed in its own small pool where we feed him tiny pieces of smelt and live minnows. When it is put into the pool, the chick immediately defecates, just as it would in the wild, when it would jump off his parent’s back and into the water. He swims around and is fed.

Soon it will be allowed to swim in larger and colder pools and eventually move to outside pools once our rehabilitation staff determines that its ready to move outside. Once the bird is deemed releasable it will be federally banded and released into the Suisun Marsh.

The Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps, order: Podicipediformes, Family: Podicipedidae) is a pelagic bird, spending all of its life in the water.

July 8, 2009

New DAWN commercial hits the TV airwaves

A new DAWN television ad is hitting the airwaves this month. The commercial was filmed in May 2009 at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center using IBRRC staff from San Pedro.

The ad touts the use of the popular dishing washing liquid in helping clean oil off birds and other wildlife. It’s beautifully done piece and hopefully the ad will stir folks help us with a purchase of DAWN.

The specially marked bottles of DAWN are on store shelves now and for every bottle purchased, DAWN will donate 50 cents to IBRRC and 50 cents to the Marine Mammal Center. You’ll need to “register” your bottle on DAWN’s website. They just want your bottle ID, your zip code and the store where you purchased the DAWN.

Ready to activate your donation? Go to Dawn Saves Wildlife

This campaign helps both wildlife groups with much needed funds. Its main focus, however, is to raise awareness of the problems marine wildlife face.

By the way, the song: “Wash Away” is by Joe Purdy off his album “Julie Blue” Listen here: http://joepurdy.com/players_html/player4.html

Here at IBRRC we’ve been using DAWN for three decades to safely clean birds and other wildlife of oil.

See ad also on the DAWN site: http://www.dawn-dish.com/en_US/savingwildlife/video.do

July 6, 2009

IBRRC, DAWN to make splash on TODAY show

The DAWN Everyday Wildlife Champions gets its big launch this week in New York. On Wednesday, July 8th IBRRC’s very own Jay Holcomb will be appearing on the NBC Today television show along with Dawn celebrity spokesperson, Minnie Driver. The pair are scheduled to appear in the fourth hour (10-11AM) with Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb.

IBRRC and the Marine Mammal Center are working with DAWN to promote the new program that will contribute to each organization for every DAWN bottle purchased.

The specially marked bottles of DAWN are on store shelves now and for every bottle purchased and activated, DAWN will donate 50 cents to IBRRC and 50 cents to the Marine Mammal Center.

You’ll need to “register” your bottle on DAWN’s website. They just want your bottle ID number, zip code and where you bought the DAWN.

Ready to activate your donation? Go to Dawn Saves Wildlife

July 3, 2009

Good news for at least one Caspian Tern

We have some good news to share this week. On July 1, 2009 we received word that one of the Caspian Terns chicks that IBRRC staff and volunteers nursed back to health in 2006 was spotted recently at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands colony near Huntington Beach, CA.

This banded bird was one of two dozen baby terns rescued after their nests were washed away by crass barge workers cleaning structures in the harbor. The spotted tern also appears to be a breeding bird. (Note: Photo above from release in 2006)

Background

Many people may remember that in the summer of 2006, approximately 2,000 Caspian and Elegant terns nested on two empty barges in the Long Beach, California Harbor. The colony was the northernmost breeding colony in the world and the first recorded colony established on barges. News of the rare colony spread quickly and stories began appearing in newspaper, television and birder blogs.

On June 28, 2006 IBRRC received urgent reports of dead baby terns washing up on some beaches in Long Beach. Our rehabilitation staff immediately went to investigate and found over 300 mostly dead baby terns, some only a day old, littering the beach. 13 live baby terns were rescued and rushed to our center in San Pedro. It was clear that somehow these birds were pushed off one of the barges! News crews recorded the crime scene while USFWS and California Dept. of Fish & Game began investigating.

The next night, Thursday, June 29, the second barge of terns was moved and all the baby terns from that barge were again swept into the harbor. On Friday morning hundreds more dead and dying tern babies littered the same beach. Our staff responded again. All in all a total of 24 baby terns were rescued alive and 405 dead baby terns were collected and kept as evidence.

It was a tragic and heartbreaking ending to what had become a thrilling sight for everyone who saw the thriving colony. IBRRC staff cared for the live birds and also took on the gruesome task of counting every body as evidence. (Migratory birds are protected by both state and federal laws and animal cruelty is a felony in California.)

We ended up raising and rehabilitating ten elegant tern chicks and 15 Caspian tern chicks. Six weeks later the elegant tern chicks had caught on quickly to feeding on live fish and grew to be strong and capable hunters; but the Caspian terns continued to beg and did not feed as aggressively as the elegant terns did. Tern biologists told us that it is typical for them to act lazy and beg to their parents for long periods of time. The decision was made to release the two species separately, at two different locations.

On August 14, 2006, nine elegant terns were released at Cabrillo beach, where other of their species were feeding. They had been fitted with double bands, one Federal and one color and also had been marked with a bright green dot, so birders could easily identify and report the sighting of them.

The bird seen at Bolsa Chica had been released at the Salton Sea with the rest of the chicks on August, 19, 2006. We worked with tern biologist, Kathy Molina, who banded the chicks with both with a service band (# 925-76178) and an alphanumeric band (C-45). This bird was missing the plastic alphanumeric band at Bolsa Chica, which is not surprise as they don’t always last that long. When released at the Salton Sea, it was of mid-weight and spotted hanging around for a week afterwards, then it wasn’t seen again.

The following Saturday, the 15 Caspian Terns were driven to Salton Sea where thousands of their species were nesting, feeding and their was an abundance of small fish to feed on. We felt that being among other Caspian’s would give them the best chance of survival.

The company charged for pushing the terns chicks off the barge admitted their crime and said that they wanted to clear the barge decks so that they could fire off fireworks for the 4th of July. In 2008 the company was found guilty of cruelty and was only given a $15,000 fine that went to the National Wildlife Federation. IBRRC was NOT REIMBURSED for a single penny of the $30,000 plus that it cost us to pick up the dead birds, save them, rehabilitate the live chicks, work with agency people to build a case and deal with the emotional effects of this tern massacre!

Looking for the silver lining

This is a significant sighting, three years later, and although it is only one bird it implies that more may have survived and that our techniques in rehabilitating tern chicks works. The tern colonies in Long Beach Harbor have since taken up nesting on a good landfill area in the harbor and seem to be doing well.

The silver lining to this story is that at least one these chicks has made it. We can assume and hope that others may have survived as well. IBRRC bands all its released birds and receives less that a 1% sighting of banded birds.

From our website in 2006: Rare tern colony decimated