Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for July 2010

July 28, 2010

Big hearts, youthful passion to help oiled birds

The Gulf oil spill catastrophe and the plight of the wildlife has touched many around the country. We continue to receive numerous e-mails, phone calls, and contributions in support of our organization’s effort.

One of the great joys is to see children who have been inspired to get involved. Lemonade has been a big seller. Some kids do art. Others a bake sale. In each example, big hearts and young minds come together to give us all hope. Some of these stories follow:

In Martinez, California, 3 year-old Zachary Bigelow wanted to help so bad he was ready to hop a flight down to the Gulf States to lend a hand. He settled on a local lemonade stand. His mom, Allie, explains:

Zachary first learned about the oil spill on the news radio and then saw photos of the birds that were affected by it in the New York Times and online and they really upset him. His initial “plan” was that he thought he should head on down to the Gulf Coast on his own to clean the birds, but I had to squash that idea (we will do that when he is a little bit older). He settled for the idea of donating some money for them and decided he wanted to have a lemonade stand since he didn’t have much in his piggy bank at the time. 

He wrote a letter to the Trader Joe’s store in Concord (Concord Avenue) and asked them to donate lemonade; they generously provided him with 2 cases of organic lemonade. He then asked the manager of the Sports Basement store in Walnut Creek if he could sell his lemonade in front of their store; they were very helpful in finding a good weekend that would guarantee lots of traffic. He asked friends to bake goodies to sell to improve his profits; our friends Adam Welcome and Erica Kain provided some really delicious baked goods for him to sell. He made all of his signs himself and did all of the selling unassisted…mom and dad were just there to pour! When all was said and done he sold lemonade for 6 hours, selling every single drop of lemonade donated by T.J.’s and every last cookie and brownie and raised $355.

Over the Fourth of July, kids in Evanston, Illinois raised money for rescuers by selling lemonade.

And from New York we got this note and photo from Alicia Salzer:

“I just want to thank you for the work that you do. My daughter Piper, age 5 was so upset by the idea that birds were being hurt by the oil spill that she decided to make special painted sea shells and sell them out of her red wagon on Fire Island here in New York. Everyone who passed stopped to look and when Piper told them about the cause she was supporting of course they bought up those shells and in a few minutes we had totally depleted her “stock”.” 

“I recently sent in her donation of $26 via your website. But I wanted to also send you a little picture of her hard at work in the hopes it warms your heart as it did mine and inspires you to keep up the great work that you do caring for creatures caught in the crossfire.”

Another young fellow, Jonathan, who is only 4 years old, helped his mom sell Pelican Aid Lemonade near his home in New Orleans instead of selling off his treasured toys.

“I want to help the pelicans,” Jonathan said, realizing he couldn’t help save oiled wildlife directly. “Because (the oil will) get in my eyes and ears and nose and mouth.”

Read the full article

July 28, 2010

Photos of Hammond OIled Wildlife Center

The Hammond Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation facility is functioning beautifully and all birds in care are doing very well. Over the weekend, as Bonnie moved over the area we experienced some good downpours but nothing major. All’s good!

Here’s what the inside of one of the warehouses looks like where all the indoor rehabilitation takes place.

Initially, the Hammond Bird Rehabilitation Facility will be capable of handling approximately 1,000 birds, and capacity could be increased to house as many as 2,000 to 3,000 birds.

It’s situated on the grounds of what was once a very large lumber yard with multiple empty warehouses and plenty of room for large outdoor enclosures. BP paid a local contractor to convert the vacant buildings to a oiled wildlife hospital.

The new wildlife center is 60 miles north of New Orleans above Lake Pontchartrain. The previous Louisiana center was located at Fort Jackson in Buras for the first three months of the Gulf oil spill. The new site is out of the hurricane ‘evacuation zone’.

See a Map

July 25, 2010

Move to new Hammond bird center a success

We’re happy to report the move to the new Hammond, Louisiana bird rescue center went smoothly Friday morning. Here’s an update:

The move was a great success! 

At 2:30 AM yesterday morning, staff from Tri-State Bird Rescue, IBRRC and Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) arrived to the facility and began preparing the birds for their journey to Hammond. They were given rehydrating fluids and placed into carriers. The carriers were then lined up according to size and species. When the large Transport trucks arrived at 4:00 AM, the birds were systematically loaded – the most frail were loaded last so they would be offloaded first. They were on the road before 5:00 AM. It went incredibly smoothly and according to plan.

By 7:00 AM, the first of nearly 400 birds arrived and were in their new enclosures. Outside, clean birds were placed into large enclosures with foliage and water features. Almost immediately the birds began bathing and exploring their new enclosures. Inside, the critical birds were placed into their new cages that had been warmed in preparation for their arrival. No birds were harmed or lost in this move.

This new facility, located near Hammond’s Northshore Regional Airport sits on over 7 acres. It offers 4 large sheltered areas being used for outdoor housing and three large warehouses that have been retrofitted for our operations.

–Rebecca Dmytryk, IBRRC Media Relations Assistant

Hammond is about 60 miles north of New Orleans above Lake Pontchartrain. The new site is out of the hurricane ‘evacuation zone’.

Initially, the Hammond Bird Rehabilitation Facility will be capable of handling approximately 1,000 birds, and capacity could be increased to house as many as 2,000 to 3,000 birds.

Oiled animals that continue to come in through Venice and Port Sulphur, Louisiana will receive first aid at a stabilization site nearby before being transferred to the wildlife center in Hammond. Since we do not wash oiled birds right away this will not delay their treatment.

July 22, 2010

Louisiana Bird Rescue moving up to Hammond

The new Louisiana bird rescue center is coming along nicely. It’s located in the town of Hammond which is about 60 miles north of New Orleans above Lake Pontchartrain. The new site is out of the hurricane ‘evacuation zone’.

Since the beginning of the BP Gulf oil spill in April, the main animal rehabilitation center has been located in Buras, LA. It is only several feet above sea level.

Initially, the Hammond Bird Rehabilitation Facility will be capable of handling approximately 1,000 birds, and capacity could be increased to house as many as 2,000 to 3,000 birds.

It’s situated on the grounds of what was once a very large lumber yard with multiple empty warehouses and plenty of room for large outdoor enclosures. We will be posting pictures soon.

View Larger Map

We are all looking forward to the move, which may be as soon as this weekend. While we are busily organizing and planning for the big move we are still receiving small numbers of oiled birds daily.

With this in mind, oiled animals that continue to come in through Venice and Port Sulphur will receive first aid at a stabilization site nearby before being transferred to us in Hammond. Since we do not wash oiled birds right away this will not delay their treatment.

Over the weekend a small water spout developed nearby. It reminded us of how the weather here, especially this time of year, can change so rapidly. While we will miss living where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico, in the end, the move will make it safer for the birds and the people that care for them.

More information

Louisiana Bird Rehabilitation Facility’s Move to Hammond

July 20, 2010

New report slams BP’s Gulf bird habitat efforts

A new report released by the prestigious American Bird Conservancy this week is asking serious questions about BP’s oil spill cleanup efforts and how they may be causing more harm than good to birds and to their habitats.

The 12 page report released July 19, 2010, is entitled Gulf Oil Spill: Field Survey Report and Recommendations, provides a series of five key recommendations for birds – ranging from the use of boom to habitat restoration – related to cleanup efforts surrounding the three-month-old Deepwater Horizon oil spill response.

According to the press release, observations are based on a just-completed week-long field assessment by ABC staff, who observed oil impacts and cleaning operations from Louisiana through Mississippi to Dauphin Island, Alabama. As part of the overview, ABC staff toured affected areas by boat with local and federal officials and charter boat captains. With Coast Guard officials, they also undertook an aerial over-flight of the spill area and points northwest of that location.

Five main recommendations contained in the report:

• The use of more effective boom to protect bird colonies. Numerous instances were observed where boom was in complete disarray, including being washed up on shore.

• The employment of better fencing and other measures to protect sensitive beach nesting areas and to reduce disturbance to birds. Clean-up crews were clearly unaware in several instances of the negative impacts they were causing to birds and their habitat.

• The deployment of adequately sized and equipped oil skimmers close to the coast with improved real-time oil reports to eliminate oil before it reaches the beaches and marshlands. ABC observed an instance of a substantial heavy oil slick about half a mile offshore while cleanup vessels were operating in very mildly oiled waters about one mile away – apparently unaware.

• The creation of a staging and recovery area for heavily oiled birds close to the coast. With the moving of the existing facility to a location about 70 miles away, some sort of near-shore facility is needed.

• The restoration of eroded island habitat for nesting birds. Breton Island, for example, is a fraction of its original size, is an important bird habitat and is in desperate need of rebuilding.

ABC’s Vice President and the report author Mike Parr, gave kudos to one area in particular: The joint IBRRC/Tri-State Bird rescue efforts at Fort Jackson, Louisiana.

“Without question, I think the unqualified bright spot of the cleanup effort was the bird cleaning center in Fort Jackson. It was gratifying to see that part of the cleanup is being carried out very effectively. The staff of the International Bird Rescue Research Center seemed totally committed, but most importantly, birds are being saved,” said Parr.

“During one of our boat surveys with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials, our vessel captured a clearly sick and oiled juvenile Roseate Spoonbill, and had it sent to the Center for treatment. Two days later, they brought out the bird for us to see and it looked clean and alert – much improved from the feeble state that allowed it to be simply picked up by hand off an oil boom 48 hours earlier,” Parr added.

To view the full report: www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/ABC_Gulf_Oil_Spill_Report.pdf

July 19, 2010

Scientists ask public to report banded birds

Scientists working on studying birds cleaned and released at the BP Gulf Oil Spill have a special request for birders and the general public: Please report sightings of these specially banded birds.

Birds from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster are banded with metal federal leg bands with a unique ID number. In addition, brown pelicans also receive a large color leg band. Three colors of leg bands are being used:

Orange bands with no identification numbers or letters.
Red bands with identifying numbers and letters.
Pink bands with identifying numbers and letters.

People who see the birds are asked to report sightings to the National Bird Banding Lab online: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/default.htm

Reporting the band number and the bird’s location will help biologists understand the movements and survival of the birds after their release. This information will assist Federal scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey and other organizations in studying these birds after release.

Birds are released only after wildlife specialists, Tri-State Bird Rescue and International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), determine they are sufficiently prepared and exhibit natural behavior including waterproofing, self-feeding, normal blood values, and are free of injuries or disease. They are released in appropriate habitats where human disturbance is minimal.

While the birds are often released in the Gulf area, they are released as far as possible from areas affected by the BP oil spill. Choosing release sites is complicated; biologists want to make sure that birds are released into the same populations from which they came, but with as little risk of getting re-exposed to oil as possible. To date, birds have been released in Texas, Florida and Georgia.

Ultimately, scientists use information gleaned from reports of banded birds to help answer a host of questions. Among those questions are: How long do formerly oiled birds survive? Where do the birds travel? Do immature birds select locations different than breeding-age adults? Do captured birds return to the area where they were captured? Do rehabilitated birds breed in future nesting seasons – and where?

See also: Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill detailed wildlife reports

For more information, please see the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center

July 7, 2010

The eye of the storm: Oiled bird care Gulf update

Nearly 80 days into the BP Gulf oil spill, IBRRC’s Executive Director Jay Holcomb has an update from the center of oiled avian treatment in Louisiana:

Hello from Fort Jackson! We had a very busy few weeks, treating hundreds of oiled brown pelicans. Mostly adults, but some nestlings too. 

It has quieted down enough to write a quick update. The lull we’ve been experiencing in the last couple of days may be due to the weather, which has been stormy. Storms and high seas prevent rescue teams from getting out to the islands and shoreline to look for oiled wildlife. As the weather improves, we expect an influx in new patients of varying species in various stages of development.

In the past week, we have had a few interesting new arrivals, like this juvenile Roseate Spoonbill that received its wash yesterday. (See video above)

Additional news: We will be moving our main oiled bird facility in Louisiana from Fort Jackson to Hammond in the coming weeks. With hurricane season upon us, it’s imperative and required by the Office of Homeland Security we be located outside the ‘evacuation’ zone.
View Larger Map

Tomorrow, we will be releasing some of the few remaining adult brown pelicans. Each one is ringed with a metal federal band and a colored plastic leg band to identify it from afar. The birds are being released as far from the spill as possible, hoping they will stay away, but there is no guarantee they will not try to fly home.

As for our operations throughout the Gulf, we have Tri-State Bird Rescue and International Bird Rescue team members staffing facilities in Pensacola, Florida, Theodore, Alabama, and Gulfport, Mississippi tending to wildlife casualties in these respective states. At each center, the mornings begin with rounds, checking on patients and providing them with fresh meals. By mid-morning, washes have begun. Throughout the day, washed birds are evaluated for release.


– Jay, from Fort Jackson, Louisiana

IBRRC has more than 40 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

This oil gusher involves a ruptured well 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 died.

The spill has not slowed in the Gulf of Mexico and in its wake it has harmed the fragile breeding grounds for Brown Pelicans and other shorebirds. 10 weeks after the blow out, BP is drilling two relief wells to stem the tide of crude in the nation’s worst oil disaster.

July 1, 2010

Oiled Pelicans still fighting for survival in Gulf

The the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has a nicely done video report (above) capturing the sights and sounds of the capture of oiled Brown Pelicans and oil-cleaning process at the Fort Jackson Bird Rehabilitation Center in Buras, Louisiana.

The iconic brown pelican have been swamped by oil from the BP well blow out in the Gulf of Mexico that started on April 20, 2010. So far, nearly 50,000 square miles of the fragile Gulf waters have been stained by the largest oil disaster in United States history.

As of June 29th, officially more than 2,000 birds have been affected by the spill. 858 have been captured alive. Many of the birds have been pelicans, but also Gannets, Gulls, Herons, Dunlins and other shorebirds.

At least 250 cleaned birds have been released to coastal areas in Florida, Texas and now Georgia.

More info on NRDC’s website: OnEarth: Gulf Coast Pelicans Fight for Survival