Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

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.

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5 Responses to “Video: Explaining how oiled birds get washed”

  1. A New England Life Says:

    Nice video. I'm loving your site, though I sure wish it weren't necessary.

    Thanks for the constant updates!

  2. Fernleaf Says:

    I had a question about the releases, with a big spill like this do you take pains to attempt and release the birds in areas that aren't affected by the spill? And if so what are the chances that the birds will return on their own to the areas they were captured and get oiled all over again?

  3. Webcoot Says:

    After cleaning, birds are released in the safest location we can find that is suitable in habitat for the given species of bird.

    On this spill, U.S. Fish & Game Service is making that determination.

    Yes, there's always a small chance clean birds can become re-oiled, but with proper planning and distant release spots it's not huge concern.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you so much for all you do! It breaks my heart to see all those animals covered in oil.

  5. enialle Says:

    My daughter and I would like to help in the cleaning. though we do not have experience I would assume you have classes as this oil gets spreads it will affect 100s if not 1000s of bird species. We live in CA but want to fly done and help out for a week. Is this possible?

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