Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for November 2009

November 19, 2009

Sea-slime Seabirds Inspire Next Generation of Philanthropists!

We are continually amazed at how the plight of seabirds inspires people to take action, particularly when that action comes from the next generation!

At the end of a very tough few weeks for International Bird Rescue Research Center‘s staff and volunteers, working around the clock to save seabirds from the Oregon algae foam, we heard from Alex Diamant, a Sacramento Resident who turned 10 years old on November 14th.

Alex’s Mom, Dea, a producer on Sacramento News Channel KCRA, had visited our wildlife center during the algae foam incident to do a news story on the rescue efforts. Inspired by this story, Alex decided to give her monthly allowance to International Bird Rescue Research Center, to help with the cost of the rescue operation of nearly 500 sea-slimed seabirds.

Not stopping there, Dea and Alex talked about the idea of visiting our seabird center with a group of friends on her 10th birthday. Alex decided that she would ask her friends to contribute to the center instead of giving her a birthday gift. After a tour with one of our staff where they got to see and learn about how we care for sick and injured seabirds, Alex presented International Bird Rescue with a check for $350!

In Dea’s words, “We sent out an email invitation to the families, inviting the girls to the party and explaining the details. There was a great response from the families. The girls had a great time and learned a lot about International Bird Rescue Research Center. They got to see a pelican get fed and given medicine. They loved seeing the birds!”

To Alex and all of her friends, thank you so much for making a difference to these seabirds! Not only does your gift help save lives but by taking action you are also an inspiration to others. That’s a gift that keeps on giving!

November 12, 2009

2009 – Dubai Star – San Francisco, CA

Ten birds were released by OWCN personnel and volunteers back into the wild this afternoon after successful treatment following oiling in Dubai Star oil spill in San Francisco Bay.

The birds included five American Coots, two Western/Clark’s Grebes, a Eared Grebe, a Horned Grebe and a Greater Scaup). The healthy birds were set free in Berkeley.

A total of 49 live oiled birds have been captured following the tanker spill on October 30, 2009 about 2 1/2 miles south of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. At least 20 birds have been found dead after spill that leaked up to 800 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay.

The birds are being treated in Fairfield at the San Francisco Oiled Wildlife Care & Education Center (SFBOCEC) that is co-managed by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network and International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC).

You can see more updates on the OWCN Blog

Photo courtesy: OWCN

November 9, 2009

The sights and sounds of a wildlife hospital

It’s been a busy few weeks here at IBRRC and we forgot to post this really great video produced by Jean Shirley, one of our super volunteers in Northern California. She captures the sights and sounds of a busy wildlife hospital during our crunch time when we had 480 birds in treatment from the toxic algae event.

The bird center has calmed down a bit since this was videotaped, but volunteers are still working with the algae birds. So far 245 have been released back to the wild.

Read more about our Pacific Northwest Sea Foam response

November 8, 2009

Digging deep: Kid’s donation to help treat birds

We got the nicest note from a kid this past week that always helps keep us moving forward in our bird rescue efforts:

I hope these 50 dollars can help save some birds lives. I just wanted you to know that $34 of those dollars are from my allowance. I’m really glad they can help a really good cause!

– Sequoia, age 11, Fairfax, CA

It reminded us of the remarkable school kids led by 9-year-old Haley Gee in Berkeley two years ago during the Cosco Busan oil spill. Motivated by seeing oiled birds dying, she and her group got a bucket and started asking everyone she met for donations.

She decided to help International Bird Rescue Research Center’s year round efforts treating injured and orphaned aquatic birds and waterfowl. Within a week she and her fellow bird club members at the Berkeley Montessori School raised about $400. Because of Haley’s efforts, others stepped up to help as well. Haley Gee Fund info

November 6, 2009

When it rains, it pours

Dear friends,

A Red-throated Loon caught in deadly sea-slime gets washed and rinsed. (Photo: Paul Kelway/IBRRC)

As you know, International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) is in the midst of a large-scale rescue effort to save seabirds threatened by a massive algal bloom off the coast of Oregon and Washington State. After more than a week of 17-hour days, our dedicated staff and volunteers have washed over 400 birds. 150 have already been returned to the wild.

In the midst of our efforts we were deeply saddened to hear that a U.S. Coast Guard crew, colleagues to those that so generously gave their time and resources to airlift these birds to safety, were involved in a fatal air crash near San Diego while flying the same C-130 plane. On the same day, International Bird Rescue was activated by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to respond to an oil spill in San Francisco Bay and we still have rescue teams in the field as I write. It has been quite a week.

This unusual algae event has had all the wildlife casualties but none of the financial resources available to save seabirds from oil spills so it is your incredible generosity that is giving these beautiful birds a second chance.

To date, we have raised two-thirds of the money we need to complete our mission and save these birds. I want to personally thank you for helping us get so far.

If you have not yet donated to save these birds and are inspired to do so we still need your help to find the remaining $15,000 to buy food for the birds, essential medical supplies and equipment. If you have already given but know someone who may wish to make a lifesaving contribution, please help us spread the word by forwarding on this message. Please donate now

We are all deeply touched by your kindness and generosity. Thank you for answering the call of these majestic marine birds.


Jay Holcomb
Executive Director
International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC)

November 5, 2009

More slimed birds released; 200 back in wild

International Bird Rescue released 16 more healthy slime-free seabirds back into the wild today following a massive algae bloom incident off the coast of Oregon. Airlifted to safety by the U.S. Coast Guard, the rescue mission, which has united wildlife organizations and Bay Area residents, has saved the lives of hundreds of migratory birds.

IBRRC’s dedicated staff and volunteers have been working around the clock for more than a week in an unusual rescue mission that had all of the casualties but none of the financial resources usually available to save wildlife when oil is to blame. Instead, rescuers turned to the public to help save these seabirds from a life-threatening algal foam. Donate now

“We knew we had the expertise to help these animals,” said Jay Holcomb, Director of International Bird Rescue, “but it has been the incredible support we have received from wildlife groups, businesses and the public as well as access to a purpose-built oiled wildlife facility that is making this possible.”

“We also want to particularly acknowledge the tremendous support of the Coast Guard who airlifted most of these birds to California,” added Holcomb. “They made a real difference to this mission and we were so saddened to hear that colleagues of that crew were involved in the crash near San Diego. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of everyone involved.”

By the end of this week over 200 seabirds will have returned to the wild to continue their southern migration, the remainder leaving the San Francisco Oiled Wildlife Care & Education Center (SFBOCEC) in the coming days. International Bird Rescue is still seeking donations to support the rescue effort, which is likely to continue for at least another week.

More info about Sea Slime ’09

November 5, 2009

Deadly sea foam subsides, 10,000 seabirds die

The Oregonian newspaper out of Portland, has a terrific and sad piece about the Sea Slime ’09 event that hit seabirds in the Pacific Northwest late last month.

The story is titled:
“Deadly ocean foam subsides, but more than 10,000 seabirds die”

The deadly foam that clobbered seabirds in the Pacific Northwest has subsided and several hundred birds rescued from the slime are being released. But the death toll worries conservationists.

More than 10,000 scoters, or seaducks, were killed by the first onslaught of algal foam that hit the Olympic Peninsula in mid-September, said Julia Parrish, marine biologist and seabird specialist at the University of Washington.

That toll — mostly surf scoters and white-winged scoters — amounts to 5 percent to 7 percent of their overall numbers on the West Coast, she said.

“That is a pretty significant bite into those species,” Parrish said. “I don’t think it will knock the population back for years. But at least with surf scoters — a species that’s in decline — conservation scientists are rather concerned about it.”

Parrish estimated that thousands more seabirds, including many red-throated loons, were killed in the second wave of foam off the Long Beach Peninsula about two weeks ago.

Read the entire Oregonian story

IBRRC helped rescue 450 birds last week and 150 have been washed and released. Another bunch of cleaned birds will be released back into the wild tomorrow near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Photo of release by Tom Russert, in Marin County near the Golden Gate Bridge.

November 4, 2009

IBRRC: Deeply saddened by Coast Guard air crash

On Monday October 26, 2009 a U.S. Coast Guard crew stationed at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, CA generously donated their time and the use of Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft #1705 to transport over 300 seabirds impacted by a Harmful Algae Bloom off the coast of Oregon in order that they could be rehabilitated at International Bird Rescue Research Center in Fairfield.

IBRRC’s staff and volunteers were saddened to hear that Coast Guard crew members also stationed in Sacramento were involved in the fatal crash in San Diego which involved the same C-130 plane last Friday, October 30, 2009.

Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families and friends of everyone involved.

Media report on the flight of mercy:

Algae Bloom Epidemic: Survival takes Coast Guard flight: The Daily Astorian

November 3, 2009

40+ oiled birds collected in SF Bay spill

After collecting more than 40 oiled birds over the weekend, the search continues for soiled wildlife after a tanker spilled 400 to 800 gallons of bunker fuel into San Francisco Bay last Friday morning.

So far, 35 live birds had been collected and another 11 had been found dead, according to the California Department of Fish and Game.

Most of the attention has been turned on the Alameda area where the beach has been coated with tar balls from the spill from the Panama-based Dubai Star.

The cleaning of oiled birds has already begun at the San Francisco Oiled Wildlife Care & Education Center (SFBOCEC) that is co-managed by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network and IBRRC.

You can watch a video on OWCN’s blog:

We’re washing shore birds today (dowitchers and a plover). Thought folks might like to see a short video clip. The oil is very thick and starting to get more tarry so we use a pre-treating agent to loosen the oil and make it easier to clean off the feathers. You’ll see plenty of it coming off on the person’s gloves.

– Greg Greg Massey, OWCN Assistant Director

If you find any oiled wildlife, please immediately contact 1.877.UCD.OWCN (1-877-823-6926).

No volunteers are needed at this time.

For response information: The Press/Media should call (510) 437-3808.

Who and what is California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN)?

Read more on the SF Chronicle website

November 2, 2009

How you can help the birds and IBRRC

Lot’s have people are asking how they can help IBRRC during this busy time. Besides a direct monetary donation, you can still help us by buying a bottle of DAWN Dishwashing liquid or purchasing items from the IBRRC online store.

We’ve got IBRRC t-shirts, hats, lapel pins and photo cards. All the proceeds go to help us take better care of distressed, oiled and sick birds. All orders are processed through PayPal. See our store

The Dawn Saves Wildlife program is still going strong and has raised nearly $140,000 to be split between IBRRC and the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. After your purchase a bottle of DAWN, you go to their website and “register” the bottle’s unique number. It just takes a minute.

By the way, every year Procter & Gamble also donates cases and case of its products to help care for birds. We’ve been using DAWN for almost 30 years to clean bird’s feathers.

November 1, 2009

Update on San Francisco Bay oil spill response

Dozens of oiled birds were rescued Saturday as crews searched beaches and estuaries looking for birds caught up in Friday morning’s spill on San Francisco Bay. See: Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN).

One of the biggest collection points is in Alameda at Crown Memorial State Beach just southeast of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge where the Dubai Star leaked bunker oil during a refueling operation. Coast Guard reported 400 to 800 gallons of very toxic bunker oil spilled about 2 1/2 miles south of the bridge.

From OWCN’s blog this morning:

The first oiled birds that we sighted included a Western Grebe, an Eared Grebe, and a Surf Scoter. These birds were active and we could not catch them. By about 1400-1500, we had our first oiled birds beaching themselves along the Alameda shoreline, especially along the Crown Beach area. One thing that we really appreciated is that many people heeded the warning notices and did not walk on their neighborhood beaches, instead letting us walk the beach trying to catch birds. Quiet beaches allow for the birds to settle down and this is the point where we can come in and catch them.

At one section of Crown Beach we caught over 10 oiled American Coots and even some oiled shorebirds. By 1600, we had a load of birds in one of the OWCN trucks headed for our primary treatment facility, the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center, by Cordelia. Some of these birds were heavily oiled and needed rapid treatment.

Tomorrow will undoubtedly be a very busy day for us. We will have at least eight teams of trained responders out on the beaches trying to capture any oiled wildlife that we might encounter. Additionally, we will have a team of US Fish and Wildlife responders and their boat out with us, as well as members of the Golden Gate Audubon doing reconnaissance work around the shores of San Francisco. They will help us by keeping an eye out for birds in distress in areas that we are not getting to regularly because there is no reported oil in those locations.

– Nils Warnock, OWCN Field Operations Specialist

If you find any oiled wildlife, please immediately contact 1.877.UCD.OWCN (1-877-823-6926).

We’ll update folks when we know more.