Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for May 2010

May 9, 2010

Birds we care about: The Brown Pelican

Brown-Pelican-Tom-Grey-Photo- copy

Brown Pelican: Photo by Tom Grey

Here at IBRRC we love the Brown Pelican. It’s part of our logo and we pride ourselves in treating this bird with the respect and care it deserves.

Since its beginning in 1971, IBRRC has worked hard to become the premier brown pelican rehabilitation organization on the west coast of the United States.

At both our centers in California, with the help of our individual and foundation supporters, we constructed 100-foot flight aviaries to help pelicans recuperate from sickness and injury. We’ve had remarkable success in treating and then releasing them back to the wild.

Earlier this year, both of our centers were inundated with these majestic birds. In three months we treated almost 600 of the pelicans after severe storms walloped California. The wet, sick and dying pelicans flooded into IBRRC centers after heavy rains and pollution from run-off that hit the California coast in early January 2010.

And we always liked this famous poem about one our favorite birds:

A rare old bird is the pelican;
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week;
I’m darned if I know how the helican.
                               – Dixon Merritt

As we respond to the Gulf oil spill we hope the pelicans stay out of harms way. If they don’t, we will be there in force to help them in a speedy recovery.

Photo of Brown Pelican courtesy Tom Grey

May 8, 2010

Day 8 Gulf Oil Spill Update: 4 oiled birds in care

It’s day eight of IBRRC’s Gulf Oil Spill response and Executive Director Jay Holcomb, has his daily update:

Yesterday we had 5 capture teams in the field working with US Fish & Wildlife. They were able to make it as far east as Gossier Island, the Breton Islands and some of the Chandelier Islands. A few oiled gulls and pelicans were sighted but those birds had only spots of oil on their bellies. They were flighted and looked good. 

The teams did see oil at the shore of the Chandelier Islands and birds in the area. The rest of the team broke up and looked westward at the outer islands of the Pass-A-Loutre Wildlife Management Area and did not discover any oiled wildlife other than a few laughing gulls with small spots of oil on them.

Six teams are out again today looking in different areas for oiled birds.

We received one oiled green heron at Fort Jackson, LA center that had landed on a boat near the oiled area. The bird is in good health and has already been washed.

The other centers in Theodore, Alabama, Gulfport, Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida are still on alert and the staff is continuing to build cages and prepare for the potential impact of birds.

Here are the latest bird numbers:

Fort Jackson, Louisiana Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

3 live oiled birds 

  • 1 brown pelican
  • 1 northern gannet
  • 1 green heron (came in yesterday)

3 dead oiled birds

  • 2 northern gannets
  • 1 magnificent frigatebird (came in yesterday)

Pensacola, Floria Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

1 live oiled bird 

  • 1 northern gannet

Thanks for all your support,

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

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.

There are now four Oiled Bird Rescue Centers in Fort Jackson, Louisiana, Theodore, Alabama, Gulfport, Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida.

Accredited Media are welcome to visit the Fort Jackson, LA rescue center any day from 1 pm to 2 pm. It’s located at MSRC, 100 Herbert Harvey Drive, Buras, LA.

May 8, 2010

Louisiana Pelicans in Peril: CBS New Video report


Scientists are racing against time to save endangered pelicans along the Gulf of Mexico coast who are now threatened by the massive BP oil spill. CBS News special correspondent Jeff Corwin reports from Venice, LA.

Watch more CBS News Videos Online

May 7, 2010

Day 7 Gulf OIl Spill Response Update

On day seven of our Gulf Oil Spill response, Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s executive director checks in with an update:

On May 6th we did not receive any new oiled birds. We sent out four teams of search and collection people who searched the outer island reaches of the Mississippi delta area. The region is known as the Pass-A-Loutre Wildlife Management Refuge. The teams saw hundreds of clean brown pelicans, terns, cormorants, gulls and shorebirds and only one pelican with a spot of oil on its belly and one tern with a spot of oil on it. 

Today there are 5 capture teams made up of IBRRC/Tri-State people, plus government wildlife officials. We are pushing to look more to the east where the oil is coming to shore but we are under the direction of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and they call the shots. I will keep everyone informed as we receive other information and birds.

As many of you know, I have been put in charge of media here in Fort Jackson. I am fine with that but its a full time job. We have had press from all over the world and they have been great.

Yesterday we also filmed with Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin who is doing some reporting on the Gulf Oil Spill

With that I will sign off. More tomorrow.

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

IBRRC now has 16 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

There are now four Oiled Bird Rescue Centers in Fort Jackson, Louisiana, Theodore, Alabama, Gulfport, Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida.

Accredited media and press are welcome to visit the Fort Jackson rescue center daily from 1 PM to 2 PM: MSRC, 100 Herbert Harvey Drive, Buras, Louisiana.

See map below:

View Larger Map

May 6, 2010

Dawn at the Gulf Oil Spill: Cleaning Up Again

A DAWN ad campaign that was launched in the summer of 2009 is getting renewed interest as the severity of the April 2010 Gulf Oil Spill unfolds. The commercial touts using the dishwashing soap to clean oiled birds.

In honor of last month’s Earth Day celebration and just before the Gulf oil spill, Procter & Gamble (PG), the makers of DAWN, stepped up the airing of the television commercial. The ad is tied to Dawn’s Everyday Wildlife Champions fundraising efforts for wildlife rescue efforts.

Dawn has been donating free bottles of its product for many years for IBRRC to use at its two California bird centers and another in Alaska.

After the Gulf Oil Spill hit on April 20, 2010, PG rushed another 1,000 bottles by truck from a Kansas City plant to wildlife rescue centers in Louisiana and Alabama.The ad and marketing program continues to raise much needed funds for IBRRC and the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA. When you buy a bottle of DAWN at the supermarket “register” your bottle on DAWN’s website the two groups split $1. 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

The commercial was filmed in May 2009 using IBRRC staff in San Pedro, CA at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center (LAOBCE). IBBRC manages that center for California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN).

So far, the successful campaign has raised nearly $400,000 in support for the two wildlife groups.

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 last summer.

The song is by singer/songwriter Joe Purdy and it was released on his 2004 “Julie Blue” album. 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 before breaking into the LA music scene, worked on a loading dock and as a high school counselor.

Also map: See how your state is doing with Dawn donations

May 5, 2010

Day 6: Pelican washed; Response team grows

On the sixth day of the Gulf Oil Spill response, additional International Bird Rescue response team members has been activated, a brown pelican was successfully washed and we continue to assist Tri-State Bird Rescue in the set up of three more wildlife care centers.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director, is writing a daily update from Louisiana. Here’s the day six update:

On Monday we washed the brown pelican that was captured yesterday. It was caught on Storm Island, on a small remote island in the outer barrier islands of the Mississippi Delta. I was told that there were other oiled pelicans seen but were not catchable at this point. We have still not been allowed to go out to these islands to look for birds. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is heading up the retrieval of oiled birds and there have been delays. However, we were able to get our search and capture teams activated for the first time today and are now out in the field looking for birds.

The brown pelican that was washed did great and took about 40 minutes to complete. We washed the bird during our 1 to 2 pm daily press conference and this allowed them to get some visuals on the bird. The press was cooperative and supportive of our work.

The other three centers are coming on line and they do not have any birds at this time. Tri-State and IBRRC staff continue to work diligently to bring these centers on line. DAWN has sent many cases of detergent to these three facilities and these will be shared with the turtle and mammal response groups as needed. The sea turtle and mammal response effort is being organized and managed by Dr. Mike Ziccardi of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network whom IBRRC works closely with in California.

IBRRC now has 16 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

As many of you know, IBRRC has responded to many oil spills over the years but have never experienced something like this where the spill seems to mostly be sitting in one large area and slowly moving back and forth at the mercy of the tides and weather. Although we know it is close to some shorelines it still has not hit the shore heavily in any area. Pelicans, terns and other plunge feeding birds are the most at risk as they will plunge into water to catch prey.

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

There are now Oiled Bird Rescue Centers in Fort Jackson, Louisiana, Theodore, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida.

Accredited media and press are welcome to visit the Fort Jackson rescue center daily from 1 PM to 2 PM: MSRC, 100 Herbert Harvey Drive, Buras, Louisiana.

See map below:


View Larger Map

May 5, 2010

CBS News Report: Oil Spill = Ecological Chaos


A major environmental threat looms for much of the wildlife along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico due to a recent oil rig disaster. Jeff Corwin from “The Animal Planet” reports from Biloxi, MS for the CBS Evening News.

May 5, 2010

New Layered Google Map of Gulf Oil Spill


A new layered Google map of the Gulf Oil Spill was released yesterday by the internet giant to help folks understand where the enormous oil slick is located. See it live here

Google’s Crisis Response Team developed the map using a series of satellite images showing the current and past movement of the oil spill and an overlay map of closed fishing areas off the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts.

The map shows the 3,300 square mile spill has touched land in a few locations but is mostly still out at sea.

You can also use the map in Google Earth by downloading KML files here.

http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/oilspill/

May 4, 2010

Day 5: Weather still hampering search for oiled birds

It’s the fifth day of Gulf oil spill response and International Bird Rescue is working quickly with Tri-State Bird Rescue, to staff and set up and wildlife care centers in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

IBRRC’s Executive Director, Jay Holcomb, is writing daily updates from the epicenter of the wildlife rescue. Here’s his day five oil spill update:

Hello everyone. I have been in Venice Louisiana for five days and finally have email access. I wanted to write a brief note to all the people who have wished us well, supported IBRRC and are watching the news as the spill in the gulf of Mexico progresses.

The weather has really hampered attempts to initiate a search and collection effort for oiled birds. As soon as the storm subsides and the safety officers decide that it is safe to go out looking for oiled birds then we will commence with that program.

IBRRC and Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Inc. are not in charge of the wildlife collection program. It’s being managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). However, IBRRC and Tri-State are providing trained and experienced personnel to help with this effort. Six of our capture teams are currently on site and more are coming in the next few days. We hope to start going out in the field tomorrow.

On Monday, May 3, we received the second oiled bird. It was a Brown Pelican that was picked up in one of the remote islands in Southern Louisiana by the USFWS. The bird is in good condition. (See photo ^above^)

Many people have asked how we organize and manage a spill of this magnitude. It is impossible for one organization to attempt to manage the oiled wildlife rehabilitation program that incorporates four states, large quantities of oil and vast areas of shoreline. Because of this, Tri-state and IBRRC have once again joined forces and combined our individual oiled wildlife response teams into one larger team capable of handling a large spill such as this one.

Between both the organizations we have responded to about 400 oil spills. In this case Tri-State is taking the lead role and IBRRC is working in tandem with them to help provide oversight for the rehabilitation program.

In 2005 we worked together in the same area in Venice, Louisiana and cared for over 200 baby oiled pelicans that were oiled after a pipeline broke and crude oil was strewn over one of the islands in the Breton Island National Refuge during Tropical Storm Arlene. We have also partnered on many other spills in the U.S. and in other countries.

I will keep you all updated as we move ahead in this oil spill.

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

May 4, 2010

Latest Gulf Oil Spill map predicts slick movement

The newest Gulf oil spill map from NOAA has been posted. The oil slick continues move toward Florida from the uncapped seafloor gusher at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig 45 miles off the Louisiana coast.

Response efforts have been stymied by choppy gulf seas over the past couple of days, but spill officials are optimistic Tuesday as the weather forecast shows sun and an ease in the winds.

Satellite images show the oil covering about 2,000 square miles of Gulf of Mexico waters.

BP has been unable to shut off the well, but crews have reported some progress using a remotely controlled underwater vehicle to dump chemicals called dispersants onto the oil as it gushes from the blown well.

Also see:

U.S. Coast Guard Flickr Photostream with more maps and photos

May 4, 2010

On the mend: First Gulf oiled bird floating clean

The first oiled bird brought in for treatment at the Gulf Oil Spill, is now recuperating in stable condition. The Gannet spends its time in the pool improving its water-proofing at the Fort Jackson, Louisiana wildlife rescue center.

The juvenile northern gannet was found early in the spill by one of the clean-up boats.

“It actually swam up to the boat so was really very lucky to survive,” said Jay Holcomb, International Bird Rescue’s executive director.

IBRRC continues to help Tri-State Bird Rescue gear up for more oiled birds. There are now three new wildlife rescue centers in the gulf states: One each in Louisiana, Theodore, Alabama and the newest is in Pensacola, Florida.

May 3, 2010

Day 3 Update: Storm hampers oiled bird capture

On the third day of our response, International Bird Rescue continues to work with Tri-State Bird Rescue, the lead oiled wildlife organization, to set up and staff rehabilitation centers in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, where the growing Gulf of Mexico oil slick is expected to impact birds.

IBRRC’s Executive Director, Jay Holcomb, is writing daily updates from the epicenter of the wildlife rescue. Here’s his day three oil spill update:

Today the high winds and thunderstorms prevented attempts for clean-up or oiled bird capture. In the meantime, the IBRRC team is continuing to work with Tri-State Bird Rescue, the lead wildlife organization on the ground, to prepare the centers in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

We continue to care for the one bird recovered so far: a Northern Gannet. It was washed yesterday and is in stable condition.

We have also now activated more of our response team to augment the centers and support search and collection efforts. They will be arriving on Monday, May 3rd.

We know that there has been an outpouring of concern from people all over the country wishing to help. IBRRC is not in the position to coordinate volunteers or other trained people. We can only reiterate that the best thing you can to do for now is to call the volunteer hotline that has been set-up by BP: 1-866-448-5816.

The latest NOAA oil slick map shows the Deepwater Horizon spill enveloping the Gulf of Mexico – including shoreline areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. It’s moving eastward and is expected to hit Florida shores by midweek.

In Alabama Gov. Robert Riley is calling in the National Guard to help with barriers against the sea of oil. Riley is quoted as saying that 80% of the thousands of feet of boom laid down off the gulf coast had broken down because of rough seas and bad weather.

Read more:

Los Angeles Times

Miami Herald

(Photo top: Lumber is unloaded for building bird boxes at Fort Jackson, LA rescue center)

May 2, 2010

Day 2 update: Gulf oil spill bird rescue

As the massive Gulf oil spill continues to evolve, IBRRC’s Executive Director Jay Holcomb is providing daily updates from center of the wildlife rescue operation.

(Photo above: Washing the first oiled bird, a Northern Gannet, at Fort Jackson, LA rescue center Photo: Courtesy of Les Stone)

Holcomb is heading the organization’s Gulf spill response team. He has responded to over 200 oil spills around the world, including Exxon Valdez and the 1979 Gulf spill. With him are a veterinarian, rehabilitation manager and capture specialist.

Here’s his Day 2 update:

In Fort Jackson today we washed the juvenile northern gannet found by one of the clean-up boats. It actually swam up to the boat so was really very lucky to survive. Its condition is stable and it will be going outside in a small pen with a pool tomorrow.

The first big press visit took place today with over 50 members of the media showing up. The International Bird Rescue and Tri-State Bird Rescue staff had decoys and demonstrated how bird-washing techniques. The media also got to see the Gannet being tube-fed.

We are in the process of getting more supplies and getting geared up. The shipment of Dawn arrived this morning from P & G. The center in Theodore, Alabama is also being set-up by Julie Skoglund and Duane Titus from IBRRC and Sarah Tagmire from Tri-State. We are also beginning to set-up centers in Mississippi and Florida in preparation for the potential of oil moving in that direction. (Photo above: Getting Fort Jackson rescue center setup)

The weather has been really windy and the water is choppy so crews haven’t been able to get out on boats to search for animals. Tomorrow there is an 80 percent chance of thundershowers so this might not be able to happen for a day or say.

Right now, preparation is still the name of the game. We will keep you posted.

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

Background
A Team of California bird rescue specialists from International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) are on site in Louisiana and Alabama preparing bird rescue centers to clean up seabirds caught in the Gulf coast oil spill. Working in partnership with Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research the rehabilitation facilities are in Fort Jackson, Louisiana (just north of Venice) and Theodore, Alabama.

Media are welcome to visit the Fort Jackson rescue center any day from 1pm to 2pm: MSRC, 100 Herbert Harvey Drive, Buras, LA.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform approximately 45 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana. The drilling rig, 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.

Nine days later, the U.S. Coast Guard says a torrent of oil is five times larger than previous estimates. The leak is now gushing 5,000 barrels — or 210,000 gallons — of crude oil a day, not a 1,000 barrels that was originally reported. While engineers work feverishly to cap the well, some officials worry the leak could go on for months – potentially becoming a devastating spill of epic proportions.

Bird species at risk along the fragile gulf coast include Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican. Their breeding season has just started.

May 1, 2010

Gulf spill update: From oiled bird rescue center

A Team of California bird rescue specialists from International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) are on site in Louisiana and Alabama preparing bird rescue centers to clean up seabirds caught in the Gulf coast oil spill.

International Bird Rescue is working in partnership with Tri-state Bird Rescue & Research to prepare rehabilitation facilities in Fort Jackson, Louisiana (just northof Venice) and Theodore, Alabama, near Mobile.

Media are welcome to visit the Fort Jackson rescue center any day from 1pm to 2pm: MSRC, 100 Herbert Harvey Drive, Buras, LA.

To date, rescue teams have recovered just one bird, a Northern Gannet, which is being treated in Venice and expected to recover fully. To learn more about oiled bird treatment, see Treatment of Oiled Birds and How oil affects birds.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Exceutive Director and oil spill veteran says preparation of rescue centers is key to the wildlife response.

“International Bird Rescue’s focus now is on preparing for the influx of oiled birds once the slick moves closer to the Gulf coast, where pelicans, egrets and terns nest and feed,” said Holcomb.

“Even after my 25 years responding to oil spills, it’s impossible to predict the kinds of impacts we might see to birds—it all depends on the tides, weather, and other factors beyond our control,” Holcomb said.

“Rather than waste time with conjecture, we are spending our days preparing for any eventuality, and it’s great to have such an outpouring of support from all over the country. This truly is an all hands on deck effort, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside Tri-State Bird Rescue and other groups,” said Holcomb.

“So far, we have only rescued one oiled bird, a Northern Gannet that is being treated at the Venice facility.” said Holcomb. “The bird is in a stable condition.”

IBRRC’s Holcomb is heading the organization’s Gulf spill response team. Holcomb has responded to over 200 oil spills around the world, including Exxon Valdez and the 1979 Gulf spill. With him are a veterinarian, rehabilitation manager and capture specialist.

International Bird Rescue will be hosting a daily teleconference once the rehabilitation center set-up is complete. For up to the minute updates on bird rescue efforts in the Gulf, follow @IBRRC on Twitter.

May 1, 2010

Staff off to Turkey to present oil spill training

As many of IBRRC’s response team headed to the Gulf of Mexico to assist with the massive spill unfolding, two of bird rescue’s senior wildlife managers are heading off to Turkey. They will give a week-long training session as part of a larger, regional oil spill plan hosted by the oil industry.

Barbara Callahan and Curt Clumpner will present two training sessions – each 2 and ½ days-long – including an overview of oiled wildlife response and rehabilitation.

As part of this same regional plan, the training team has given oiled wildlife trainings in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and will finish with the training in Turkey.

Attendees include wildlife veterinarians, biologists, wildlife rehabilitators and industry managers in the region.