Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for September 2009

September 26, 2009

DAWN Saves Wildlife still growing strong

The Dawn Saves Wildlife program is still growing strong. Nearly 100,000 bottles of DAWN Dishwashing liquid have been registered online at Dawn Saves Wildlife. The top state activating bottles is California with 5,600 followed by Texas with 5,300.

We want to thank all the committed folks who have helped make this program such a success. IBRRC and the Marine Mammal Center, both based in California, split the $1 per bottle that DAWN is contributing through its manufacturer, Procter & Gamble. The extra funds go a long way in helping us care for more sick and injured birds.

Appreciation also goes out this week for the great, balanced New York Times Business Section story on the DAWN-IBRRC history. The writer documented some important information about our history using DAWN to clean oiled animals.

In 1978, Alice Berkner, founder of the International Bird Rescue Research Center, which helps birds harmed by oil spills, secured a small grant from Chevron to test all major dish soaps for cleaning birds.

“The one that worked better than anything else was Dawn,” Jay Holcomb, executive director of the group, said in a telephone interview from California, where the center operates outside San Francisco and Los Angeles. “It cut the oil faster than anything else.”

The organization informed Dawn’s parent company, Procter & Gamble, which initially ignored requests to donate cases of the product, then finally agreed to do so in 1988, according to Mr. Holcomb. (P.& G. said in a statement that because Dawn had made its debut only in 1973, “In these early stages it was important for Dawn to solidify its fundamentals before pursuing opportunities the brand felt passionate about.”)

The piece is entitled: Tough on Crude Oil, Soft on Ducklings

September 23, 2009

A Mother Hummingbird’s film gets a thumbs up

If you’re looking for a remarkable nature documentary for the whole family look no further than the “Hummingbird: First Flight: A Mother Hummingbird’s Story” by Noriko and Don Carroll.

The Carrolls have created a beautiful, high quality 45 minute video that follows a mother hummingbird from the moment she lays two eggs until her little babies fly out of the nest for the first time. The tiny hatchlings were named Ray and Zen. The mom is called “Honey” and she’s a Black-chinned Hummingbird. It was filmed in their Las Vegas, Nevada backyard.

The “how they made the video” ending is fascinating and full of ideas for those interested in documenting bird life.

Some staff members from IBRRC saw the video earlier this month at the Blue Planet Film Festival in Santa Monica.

The film is available online to purchase at the couple’s website for $19.95.

The husband and wife team also created the excellent book on the same subject. See it on Amazon.

September 22, 2009

Clues starting to surface in Farallones bird deaths

The outbreak of seabird deaths this spring and summer in Northern California has scientists turning their attention to krill and how some animals can adapt to changing foodstocks and others don’t.

In a story in the San Francisco Chronicle today, researchers are studying how the disappearance of Anchovies – that left diving birds like Cormorants starving – has affected other animals like humpback whales.

The whales adapt better and have turned their feeding attention to more krill, a type of shrimp-like marine invertebrate animal. Cormorants haven’t or can’t adapt to feeding on other forms of ocean food.

“We’ve had an extraordinary number of dead animals,” said Jan Roletto, the research coordinator for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. “It seems to be that the animals that suffered the most were the animals that forage on anchovies.”

Here at IBRRC we saw huge numbers of dead and dying Brandt’s cormorants along beaches in Central and Northern California. The birds can dive as deep as 300 feet for prey. According to PRBO researchers the birds did not produce any chicks this year on the Farallones or on Alcatraz Islands. This is compared to a total of 15,000 chicks in 2007.

According to scientists, the Cassin’s Auklet, a small seabird that feeds on krill, has had above-average nesting success this year.

Read more: Hunt for clues to sea life deaths at Farallones

September 19, 2009

Jane Goodall speaker at Wildlife Expo in SF

Join conservation heroes from around the world – including Dr. Jane Goodall – on Saturday, October 3, 2009 from 10am – 6pm at the Wildlife Conservation Expo Day in San Francisco.

Hear about the challenges and successes of working on the frontlines of conservation. Visit the exhibits of local and international conservation organizations and purchase wildlife art and crafts from around the world. IBRRC will also have a booth at the expo.

The event will be held near near AT&T Park at Mission Bay Conference Center, 1675 Owens St, San Francisco, CA 94107.

See: Directions and parking info (Printable PDF)


The main auditorium where Dr. Goodall will be speaking has 600 seats and we fully expect this to sell out. These tickets will be given on a first come first serve basis and may be gone as early as mid-September. Blue wristbands will be given to the first 600 seats sold. Those holding a blue wristband can expect a seat in the auditorium with Dr. Goodall provided you are in line at the auditorium by 12:15pm sharp. If you receive a yellow wristband, you are guaranteed a seat in a different auditorium where Dr. Goodall’s presentation will be simulcast to the large video screen. Both wristband colors also allow you access to all the other presentations, shopping, and information gathering.

September 18, 2009

Death in the family affects us all

We recently lost a good friend of IBRRC. Damien “Joey” Joseph Kam (photo, far left), a dedicated volunteer at the San Pedro bird center and husband of one our respected former employees, Cyndie Kam, passed away unexpectedly in Newport Beach, CA, on August 28, 2009. He was 44.

He is survived by his wife, Cyndie, 37, and son Colin, 16 months old, of Costa Mesa, CA.

We remember Damien and others on our website

September 17, 2009

Save the Bay: "Top Ten Bay Trash Hot Spots"

Just in time for Coastal Cleanup Day this coming weekend, Save the Bay has a new study out documenting the worst San Francisco Bay areas for trash.

Yes, plastic bags are among the most common types of Bay pollution. They smother wetland habitat and degrade water quality, often kill birds and other animals when they mistake bags for food or become entangled in them. Plastic also breaks up into pieces that can stay in the ecosystem for eons.

See 2009 Bay Trash Hot Spot Placemarks in a larger map

Check out the terrific public service video (above) created to draw attention to the plight of plastics in our environment.

The 2009 Bay Trash Hot Spots are San Francisco Bay shorelines and creeks where volunteers reported removing the most plastic bags on Coastal Cleanup Day 2008. On this one day alone, volunteers reported to the Ocean Conservancy that nearly 15,000 plastic bags were removed from these ten hot spots – a shocking number considering that these areas represent a very small portion of the Bay shoreline and its tributaries. In fact, Save The Bay estimates that more than one million plastic bags wind up in San Francisco Bay each year.

More info on the Save the Bay site

Info on the 25th California Coastal Cleanup day on September 19, 2009

September 12, 2009

Artist spotlight: Karen Nevis; Calendar out this week

If you’re in the Santa Cruz/Monterey area this weekend, we’d a recommend the Capitola Art & Wine Festival on September 12-13. Please check out artist Karen Nevis’s booth #20 to see her wonderful work. The festival is located at the Esplanade in Capitola, CA.

Karen will have a new 2010 Santa Cruz~Aptos-Capitola Calendar available this weekend. The calendar features her watercolors of animals and life along bay. It also has information and photos about IBRRC’s bird rescue efforts and how folks can better treat the environment they share with birds and other critters.

You can also see her work at the Open Studios October 10-11th or October 17-18th from 11-6pm. Open Studios map

If you can’t make these events, the calendars will be available in stores September 15th. Check her website for more information: http://www.karennevis.com/

September 12, 2009

Project Kaisei probes Pacific Ocean "Plastic Vortex"

A another new study is under way to document the planet’s largest known floating garbage dump, called the Plastic Vortex or ocean gyre. It’s located about 1,000 miles northeast of Hawaii.

Using two boats, the Project Kaisei examined the largest area of plastic garbage situated approximately five days by boat from San Francisco. The tangle of plastic thought to be a sea of debris roughly twice the size of the state of Texas.

The expedition consisted of a large pass through the trash with the aim to collect and study plastic and other debris littering the ocean. The effort will be used to showcase new technologies that will be used for processing and recycling the plastic.

The “Plastic Vortex,” or what is sometimes referred to as the “garbage patch,” is within an area that is technically referred to as the the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone. This area does not have rigid physical boundaries, and varies seasonally in both size and position.

Why is the Plastic Vortex a problem?

It is estimated that over 60% of the plastic and other wastes (including rubber and aluminum) in the ocean come from land-based sources, and once in the sea, they are at the mercy of the confluence of tides, currents and winds because they are buoyant. Over time through exposure to the sun and heat, some plastic materials can disintegrate into ever smaller pieces due to weather and UV impact.

The plastic debris leave their ugly mark on marine life. Birds injest the plastics and become entangled in other debris. The plastic residue is probably entering the human food chain.

According to press reports, Project Kaisei is a commercial endeavor, funded in part by international recycling companies that would like to find ways to captialize on the recycling this huge problem. More info

Also see:

IBRRC website: Birds and plastics

California Coastal Cleanup Day: Sept. 19, 2009

September 12, 2009

Video: Bird release at Blue Planet Film Fest

Release of 6 birds back to the wild at Santa Monica Beach as part of the Blue Planet Film Festival. Thanks to Paul Kelway for the video work.

September 4, 2009

Lucy the Pelican to be released at Blue Film Festival

A pelican release event is planned for September 4, 2009 at 12:30 PM as part of the Blue Planet Film Festival`s “Animal Day” festivities. The rehabilitated adult female Brown Pelican will be returned to the wild at the beach next to the Santa Monica Pier.

In August, Lucy became trapped in a pile of discarded fishing line with a large hook embedded in her left wing in some bushes near Ballona Creek, California. Fortunately a quick thinking, compassionate hiker rescued Lucy and immediately brought her to IBRRC`s center in San Pedro, California where she immediately received treatment for severe bruises and a serious infection.

Lucy has fully recovered and is now flying from perch to perch in the Center`s recovery aviary. Lucy and several of her Pelican friends with similar stories have been successfully nursed back to health by the IBRRC staff and are ready to return to their homes in the waters off the California coast.

“Lucy is one of the lucky ones,” said Jay Holcomb, IBRRC`s Executive Director. “Thanks to the dedicated hiker who rescued her, she arrived at our facility in time to save her. Although she was quite stressed and needed immediate medical attention, our staff was ready to treat Lucy and ultimately restore her to full health.”

About the International Bird Rescue Research Center

International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) was founded in 1971 after the Oregon Standard collided with another ship under the Golden Gate Bridge, which resulted in a massive spill of crude oil that covered over 7,000 birds. Since then, IBRRC has responded to over 200 national and international spills including the Exxon Valdez, Cosco Busan and Treasure Oil Spill in South Africa. The IBRRC is the world leader in aquatic bird rehabilitation, oiled bird rescue and rehabilitation and the management of oiled wildlife efforts during an oil spill. IBRRC’s mission is to mitigate the human impact on aquatic birds and other wildlife, worldwide. This is achieved through emergency response, rehabilitation, education, research and planning.

For additional information on how to volunteer or donate to the IBRRC, please visit www.ibrrc.org.

September 2, 2009

PRBO: Shift in bird species expected from warming

A new study of how climate change affects birds says dramatic changes are in store for the bird world over the next 60 years.

As much as half of California could be occupied by new bird communities by 2070 as warming of our climate leads to huge evolutionary shifts in bird distribution. Usually these shifts happen over thousands of years, according to researchers with PRBO.

“What we found is that not only will species shift and communities change, but the composition of communities in certain places will not resemble anything we see today,” said Diana Stralberg, lead author of the report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Certain species might die off or will migrate to other areas as rapid climate changes get under way. The shift will also alter vegetation, insect populations and predator distribution, the report suggests.

“This is more than just an interesting finding about birds,” said Dr. John Wiens, PRBO’s Chief Conservation Science Officer and a co-author. “Birds are nature’s barometers. If birds occur in different combinations in the future, it’s likely that other organisms such as insects and plants will as well. The reshuffling of bird assemblages that we project may just be the tip of the iceberg.”

The report is titled: “Reshuffling of Species With Climate Disruption: A No-Analog Future for California Birds?” It was published Sept. 2, 2009 in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, was conducted by scientists with PRBO, Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz and the Klamath Bird Observatory. The group studied 60 birds from various California habitats, including oak woodlands, conifer forests, grasslands, riparian and coastal scrub.

PRBO, also known as the Point Reyes Bird Observatory is based in Petaluma, CA.

Full report on PLos one

News story from San Francisco Chronicle

September 1, 2009

Blue Film Festival: Labor Day Weekend in LA area

This weekend, the Blue Planet Film Festival kicks off in Santa Monica, CA. The festival includes a host of “Cool Shorts for a Hot Planet.” If you’re in Southern California for Labor Day weekend, check it out. Info here

It will be held at Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club, 1210 4th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. It runs from September 4-7, 2009. See Map

One of the films of interest is Karearea: The Pine Falcon, about the New Zealand Falcon. The film follows the wild population of falcons that have managed to survive in the fierce commercial forestry loging. It also tells the story of two friends conservationist and director Sandy Crichton and 88 year-old wildlife photographer George Chance. Facing ill health and going blind, Chance connects with Crichton who gets ever closer to a remarkable wild population of falcons as he attempts to realize George’s dream by adding movement to his photographs.

Full list of films being screened

On Thursday evening, September 3 at 7 PM IBRRC will be presenting their Wildlife Champion Award to Fox Studios for their exemplary rescue of a duck family. The Gala opening night also includes previews of the films and great socialising opportunities. Info about the opening night: http://blueplanetfilmfest.inticketing.com/events2/45932/Opening-Night-Gala

September 1, 2009

BirdNote website for the bird lover in us all

We just ran across the wonderful BirdNote website that archives the NPR shows that are two-minute vignettes. The audio show captures the rich sounds of birds with stories that illustrate the interesting—and in some cases, truly amazing—abilities of birds.

Sample one of their shows: Laughing Kookaburra of Australia

If you’re a birder or just a curious about bird songs and calls, check this site out: http://www.birdnote.org/