Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for May 2010

May 22, 2010

New Gulf update: Oiled bird numbers increase


On the one month anniversary of the Gulf Oil Leak here’s the latest wildlife update from IBRRC’s Jay Holcomb:

Yesterday we received 3 more oiled birds at the Fort Jackson oiled bird rehabilitation facility. The included: One Brown Pelican, one Ruddy Turnstone and Semipalmated Sandpiper. No other birds were received at any of the other facilities. (Photo above, oiled Brown Pelican intake in Louisiana)

On Wednesday of this week we received another three oiled Northern Gannets in Fort Jackson and we continued washing and rehabilitating birds in Louisiana.

Our search and collection teams, working under the direction of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, continued patrolling impacted and other areas in the outer regions of the Mississippi River Delta region. Many healthy looking clean birds were sighted in the areas they covered and a few partially oiled birds were sighted here and there but were unable to be captured.

One oiled Brown Pelican came into the Pensacola, Florida bird rehabilitation center and one oiled Gannet came into the Theodore, Alabama rehabilitation center.

The complete list of birds received and under care are listed on our website A total of 27 live oiled birds have received in to Gulf wildlife care centers.

As always, we appreciate your concern,

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has about 20 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

May 21, 2010

Video: Explaining how oiled birds get washed

Jay Holcomb of IBRRC explains why it’s so important to remove oil from a birds feathers. He also describes how an oiled pelican captured at the Gulf Oil leak is cleaned of crude this week at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Center in Louisiana.

When a bird encounters oil on the surface of the water, the oil sticks to its feathers, causing them to mat and separate, impairing the waterproofing and exposing the animals sensitive skin to extremes in temperature. This can result in hypothermia, meaning the bird becomes cold, or hyperthermia, which results in overheating. Instinctively, the bird tries to get the oil off its feathers by preening, which results in the animal ingesting the oil.

May 21, 2010

Nat Geo to broadcast "Gulf Oil Spill" on May 27


Nat Geo Channel: Gulf Oil Spill” Thursday, May 27 at 9 pm

In one of America’s biggest environmental disasters and the largest oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico since 1979, the BP Mississippi Canyon spill continues to enflame public and political sentiment.

Now, as experts scramble to stop the oil leak, National Geographic Channel will air a documentary on what happened to the Deepwater Horizon as a blowout blew it apart, killing 11 of the 126 men on board, sending oil gushing toward the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The special contains never-before-seen video shot by salvage crews as they battled to move close to the burning rig.

Nat Geo will broadcast a one hour special entitled “Gulf Oil Spill” Thursday, May 27 at 9 pm on the National Geographic Channel.

Read more: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/gulf-oil-spill-5488/Overview#ixzz0oX7gY7Sr

May 19, 2010

Day 17: Making strides on oiled bird capture

A quick update follows on the Gulf Oil Leak wildlife response from IBRRC’s Jay Holcomb:

Tuesday was a good day for the capture teams on the water as the weather allowed our teams, who are working as part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) bird capture program, to cover a large area of water. Over 6,000 birds were sighted and most of them were clean. Oiled birds were found here and there and a total of 4 oiled birds were brought into the Fort Jackson bird rehabilitation facility in Louisiana – a brown pelican, least tern, northern gannet and a laughing gull. 

One oiled brown pelican was captured and brought into the Alabama facility on Tuesday also.

Search and collection efforts and the rehabilitation of the birds at these facilities are continuing.

Thanks for your interest,

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has about 20 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010 and sank in 5,000 feet of water.

The leak continues to spill oil into Gulf waters and BP has made some progress in plugging the gush of crude from the ocean floor. So far, experts believe the amount of oil in the water has surpassed the 11 million gallons spilled during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

May 18, 2010

Day 16: Search continues for oiled Gulf birds

Here’s the latest Gulf Oil Leak update from Jay Holcomb:

Yesterday was a hot but clear day in the Gulf of Mexico and it was a good day for the teams to get out in the field in all areas. In Louisiana the teams spotted many oiled terns and gulls that are still able to fly and will be working with teams from the USDA and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to see if it is possible to capture them with net guns. They also saw a lot of oil impacting the shore in the South Pass area of the Mississippi River basin. The crews witnessed a large fish kill and unusual floating blobs of oil below the surface of the water. It is assumed that it is oil mixed with dispersant but not confirmed. The situation is disturbing to all of us but we are working within the current structure to provide the best services that we can to help capture and rehabilitate oiled birds. 

In Louisiana we received another Northern Gannet that workmen plucked out of the water in one of the oiled areas. We also received an oiled Laughing Gull and an Oiled Starling. Although all the centers are receiving rehab birds, birds with other injuries but not oiled, no other oiled birds from this spill were captured.

I have been asked to compare this spill with the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill many times by the media. The obvious similarities are that large amounts of oil have leaked into a marine environment and therefore the ecosystem is as risk. A few of the differences are:

1. Alaska has hundreds of thousands of surface rafting (resting), diving and feeding birds, (Puffins, Murres, Auklets, Cormorants, Loons etc.) The Gulf of Mexico has fewer surface rafting birds but more plunge feeding birds (pelicans, gannets, terns) but the pelicans and terns spend a lot of time roosting on the outer islands and not on the water. So, impact of large rafts of these birds is unlikely. It’s more a case of individual birds plunging into oily water which is why we are getting gannets and pelicans.

2. The warm weather here allows oiled birds that are still flighted to stay warm for longer periods of time whereas even the smallest amounts of oil that penetrate to the skin of birds in cold climates puts them at immediate vulnerability to hypothermia and therefore death.

3. In Alaska there were many predators such as bald eagles and bears who took many of the oiled birds before we could get to them. In the gulf we do not have those predators on the outer islands but there are coyotes and raccoons on some of the islands.

We now have received 15 oiled birds since this incident began.

Thanks for your interest in our efforts,

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has about 20 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010 and sank in 5,000 feet of water.

The leak continues to spill oil into Gulf waters and BP has made some progress in plugging the gush of crude from the ocean floor. So far, experts believe the amount of oil in the water has surpassed the 11 million gallons spilled during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

May 17, 2010

Day 15: From the center of Gulf oiled bird care

After a very small break this weekend in Louisiana, Jay Holcomb is back with his daily updates from the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill response:

Louisiana – On Saturday we had a visit from Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Rebecca Dunne from Tri-State Bird Rescue and I gave him a tour through the Fort Jackson Center and allowed him to get a close up view of our team washing the latest oiled Brown Pelican that we received. The female pelican is a two year old that is a very sweet bird found in Grand Isle to the west of us. She is now outside with the other pelican and doing well, both are eating a lot of fish. 

For the last two days our capture teams in Louisiana were mostly grounded due to intense thunderstorms and lightning strikes on the water. Not safe! We took this time to check out land based pelican and tern roosting areas but no oiled birds were spotted.


The reports we are getting now are about birds out in the deep water oiled areas and on some of the islands but you have to have safe access to those areas. We are wading through politics and weather to get to those places to assess and capture oiled birds.

Yesterday afternoon we did receive an oiled Gannet that was luckily plucked out of the water by a fishing boat that was coming back to the harbor. Its an adult Northern Gannet, heavily oiled and will be washed today. (Photo, above, oiled Northern Gannet)

Alabama - Our oiled bird rehabilitation center in Alabama received 7 sick non-oiled, lethargic brown pelicans and 1 laughing gull from that area. They were discovered soon after a fish die off in the area and there are concerns that they may have botulism and it may be connected to the fish die off. 5 pelicans and the gull are still alive and they are temporarily being cared for at that facility until plans for their transfer to a rehab facility are completed.

Mississippi
– Our center in Gulfport received an oiled Gannet on Saturday and it is doing well. The bird will be washed soon. The center development and problem solving is coming along well.

Florida – Our center in Pensacola received an oiled gannet on Saturday also and it is doing well. The bird will also be washed soon.

Back at Home at our California Bird Rescue centers- It has taken a few weeks for us to get the wildlife centers on line here in the Gulf states and get a handle on this program and to understand and infiltrate ourselves into how its all working in this spill. In the mean time our centers at the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas are in spring mode and getting busier by the day. In that sense this spill could not have come at a worse time.

In order to support our staff and volunteers back at home in Cordelia (Northern California) and San Pedro (Southern California) we are hiring on extra summer help at both centers to make sure that the clinics are supported and run as smoothly as possible.

Also, we will probably be shifting our main clinic rehabilitation staff out to give each of them opportunities to work in the Gulf. We will be evaluating and are developing this plan daily as things progress here in the Gulf and we gain a better idea as to how long we may be staying. I will post more on how we are managing the spill, the centers back home as I have something to more to report.

Thanks for your continued support and words of encouragement,

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

International Bird Rescue is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has about 20 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010 and sank in 5,000 feet of water. More than 100 workers scrambled off the burning rig in lifeboats. 11 workers are missing and presumed dead.

May 17, 2010

AP video: Cleaning Oiled Pelican in Louisiana

Response Team members, including IBRRC’s Heather Nevill, clean an oiled Brown Pelican Saturday at Fort Jackson, Louisiana Oiled Wildlife Center after being rescued at the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (baackground in video) visited the center over the weekend to see first hand how one of four rescue centers are setup to handle oiled wildlife. The Fort Jackson can handle 120 oiled birds. Other wildlife centers are up and staffed in Theodore, Alabama. Gulfport. Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida.

Note: Our Executive Director Jay Holcomb provides background narration in this AP Video Report.

May 14, 2010

Day 13 update: New oiled birds in care

The daily update from Thursday, May 13, of oiled wildlife care at the Gulf Oil Spill follows:

Yesterday we received one heavily oiled Brown Pelican at our Ft. Jackson Oiled Wildlife Center that was found near Grande Isle, Louisiana. We are expanding our capture efforts west towards that area. 

Our Gulfport, Mississippi center received one dead oiled Surf Scoter.

Most of the capture team in the Louisiana was grounded for good part of the day due to high winds. Bird search & capture efforts continued in the Mississippi, Alabama areas.

We will keep you updated on any new developments.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

International Bird Rescue is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has 16 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010 and sank in 5,000 feet of water. More than 100 workers scrambled off the burning rig in lifeboats. 11 workers are missing and presumed dead.

>Photo above: Heavily oiled Brown Pelican rescued at Grande Isle, LA on May 13th.

May 13, 2010

Oiled Pelican: Before wash and after cleaning

After capture, an oiled Brown Pelican, left, awaits washing at the Fort Jackson, Louisiana Oiled Wildlife Center. The same pelican, right, a few days later after it was washed at the Gulf Oil Spill Wildlife Response in May 2010.

After stabilzation, a health exam and supportive care we use a 1% Dawn dishwashing solution to clean birds of petroleum products.

May 13, 2010

Day 12: Alabama Center receives first oiled bird

Here’s the daily update of oiled wildlife care during the Gulf Oil Spill:

On Wednesday the Alabama Oiled Bird Rehabilitation center received its first oiled bird, a Royal Tern. It was captured on Horn Island. Continued efforts to search that island and others in that region are ongoing. 

The other centers did not receive any new oiled birds.

Half of our Search & Collection teams in the Louisiana were grounded yesterday due to high winds and unsafe seas. The other half was able to work some areas near the Eastern side of the Mississippi River delta area and spotted a few oiled pelicans but were unable to capture them.

The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, visited us for a tour at the Fort Jackson Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center.

We will keep you updated on any new developments.

Thanks,

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

Here are the latest bird numbers:

Ft. Jackson, LA Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

Live oiled birds (intaken in LA since beginning of the spill)
2 brown pelicans
2 northern gannet
1 green heron
1 laughing gull

(one of the live gannets died)

Dead on arrival oiled birds
2 northern gannets
1 magnificent frigatebird

Pensacola, FL Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

Live oiled bird
1 northern gannet

Theodore, AL Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

live oiled bird
1 Royal Tern

Total birds Released: 2 (1 brown pelican, 1 northern Gannet)