Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for December 2009

December 31, 2009

Birds shot at Oakland Airport now in care at IBRRC


Dear Friends,

Recent bird hazing efforts at Oakland International Airport have raised concerns about how the birds were shot and left to die and why authorities didn’t alert local wildlife agencies.

Late on December 23, International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) was asked to assist in capturing injured birds spotted just south of the Oakland airport. Early the next morning two of our response team members worked with California Department of Fish and Game and East Bay Regional Parks to pick up four dead birds and capture what turned out to be five injured shot birds. Three of these birds have since died while two Western Gulls that sustained gun shot wounds are in a guarded condition and still in care at IBRRC’s seabird rescue center in Fairfield.

It has now been reported that the birds were killed by contractors hired by the Oakland International Airport who contracts with the USDA to haze (frighten) birds away from the area if they are deemed a hazard to aircraft.

IBRRC supports any and all humane methods to haze birds away from airports. If these methods are not effective and government officials approve the killing of birds near an airport, it is our opinion that this must be done quickly, professionally and humanely. This also means that the bodies of dead birds should be picked up and any live injured birds should be humanely euthanized.

In the case of the Oyster Point incident local authorities were not informed that birds would be shot. At least 60 birds of various species, including brown pelicans, were shot and their bodies left floating in the area creating a concern that a poaching incident had occurred. Additionally a number of live injured birds with broken wings and other injuries were found by the public creating an unnecessary incident that created emotional stress to peoples lives and increased expenses to IBRRC, who is incurring the cost of the capture and the rehabilitation of the remaining two gulls.

We hope that the Oakland Airport will be investigated for what we consider a negligent “take” of birds near the airport and the inhumane, thoughtless and careless act of leaving injured live birds and the bodies of over 50 dead birds in the area. We hope that this will result in the Oakland Airport making the appropriate changes in their bird hazing protocols.

Jay Holcomb
, Executive Director
International Bird Rescue Research Center

News reports:

Birds killed to protect planes at Oakland airport: Oakland Tribune

December 28, 2009

Bligh Reef diesel spill disperses in high seas

An IBRRC Response Team was released from alert on Christmas day after a diesel fuel spill dispersed in heavy Alaska seas.

The response crew was on standby after a tugboat struck the infamous Bligh Reef last Wednesday and dumped diesel into Prince William Sound. Initial news reports claimed it spilled up to 33,000 gallons of fuel.

By the weekend, high seas and 25 knot winds helped disperse the diesel after the 136-foot “Pathfinder” tugboat ran aground on the the reef that was the scene of the catastrophic Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.

The tugboat had just finished checking for dangerous ice in shipping lanes and was heading back to port in Valdez when it hit Bligh Reef. The December 23rd collision tore open two fuel tanks.

After limping off the reef toward Busby Island, the boat was surrounded by floating booms, crews pumped out the remaining fuel before towing it back to Valdez, Alaska for repairs.

Diesel fuel a very light fuel compared with the heavy black crude that spilled from the Exxon Valdez. During that spill 11 million gallons of crude stained beaches and inlets over a 1200 mile area. The tugboat is part of the Ship Escort Response Vessel System that was created after the Exxon spill.

News reports

Crews prepare to remove remaining fuel from crippled tug: Alaska Daily News

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charly Hengen)

December 25, 2009

Tidings of joy this holiday from IBRRC



Bringing you tidings of joy and best wishes for a peaceful and productive New Year.

– The folks at IBRRC

December 25, 2009

Alaska oil spill sounds alarm on Bligh Reef


View Larger Map

Bligh Reef, the site of the nation’s worst oil spill 20 years ago, is again the scene of a shipping mishap. Last night a 136-foot tugboat ran aground on the infamous reef in Prince William Sound and ripped a 4-5 foot hole in its keel.

More than 33,000 gallons of diesel oil spilled from Crowley Maritime’s “Pathfinder” which was scouting for ice in the area. According to news reports, after the 6:15 PM grounding, the tug crew managed to move off the reef and the boat is anchored near Busby Island and is surrounded by containment booms.

As of today an International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) crew is on alert for possible deployment to the Alaska spill.

Reports say that more than 4 feet of the Pathfinder’s keel is gone. The Coast Guard says an overflight on the morning of December 24, reported oil on the water. The tugboat is based in Valdez, Alaska. Crowley tugboat fleet

The notorious Bligh Reef is where the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground in March 1989, spilling at least 11 million gallons of crude oil. During that spill an IBRRC response team spent 6 months helping manage oiled wildlife response efforts.

Media reports:

The Christmas Oil Grinch
: The Huffington Post

Tug Grounds on Same Reef as Exxon Valdez Tanker
: ABC News

What Ever Happened to the Exxon Valdez Spill?: Slate Online

Exxon Valdez Spill 1989
: YouTube

December 10, 2009

Dawn Increases Donation to 1 Bottle = $3!!

It has just been announced that Dawn will be increasing its donation to save marine wildlife to $3 for every bottle of dishwashing liquid purchased and activated before January 4th, 2010. The donation supports both International Bird Rescue Research Center and the Marine Mammal Center.

We need your help to make the most of this amazing opportunity. If you have a blog or a Facebook page help us to spread the word!

It only takes a moment to add the bottle ID number, your zip code and the store where you purchased your bottle. Don’t forget to register

More than 30 years ago, International Bird Rescue Research Center was seeking a solution to clean oil from bird’s feathers. IBRRC discovered that Dawn dishwashing liquid was powerful enough to effectively remove oil while remaining gentle on feathers, skin and eyes. Since then, rescue groups worldwide have chosen Dawn to clean aquatic animals. More info on Dawn’s Everyday Wildlife Champions

December 10, 2009

Update on Algae-slimed Pacific NW birds

International Bird Rescue Research Center just released the last of the algae covered birds rescued from the coasts of Oregon and Washington last month. This brings the release total to 290 out of 455 birds. Considering the surprise nature of this event and the logistical challenges of getting the birds to California I think we did very well. As we said to the press, for us this was like an “oil spill without the oil”. The birds were wet and hypothermic, as they often are from oil, but were not suffering the toxics effects also associated with petroleum products. We knew from our experience with a similar algae bloom in Santa Cruz in 2007 that if we capture, treat and wash the birds quickly then they will likely have a good chance of being released.

So, we drove and airlifted birds to our San Francisco Bay center for treatment, with help from the US Coast Guard, the Humane Society of the U.S., the Hedinger Foundation and PETCO. Although the response taxed our staff, volunteers and budget, about 60% of the birds that we took in were released back to the wild.

There was one other major factor that separated this from an oil spill – there was no pre-established funding source to help these animals. Instead, it was the tremendous contributions and support from the public, from foundations and from businesses that was the difference between life and death for these birds. Without it, most of these birds would have been lost.

Soon we will post a list of all the species that were involved and other information on this event. In the meantime please check out our blog and read the most recent articles about why researchers think this event happened, what the future holds and more at www.ibrrc.org/algae-slime-response-2009.html. In the meantime, we will be looking into establishing an emergency funding source for events such as this and we will keep you informed of that venture.

This response was a good reminder of how our ongoing aquatic bird rescue and rehabilitation activities provide our team with the experience and expertise to make a difference when emergencies like oil spills and algae blooms occur. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all our supporters who make this possible.

– By Jay Holcomb,
Executive Director, IBRRC