Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for December 2011

December 30, 2011

Help Make It a Happy New Year for Birds in Need

Each year we treat hundreds of baby birds, including Pied-billed Grebe chicks.

Dear Friends, 

As you make your New Year’s resolutions and your final year-end giving choices, please consider International Bird Rescue. Thousands of sick and injured seabirds and other aquatic birds will arrive at our doors next year, and your contributions will empower us to offer these majestic creatures the specialized care they need to survive and thrive.

Winter storms will bring an influx of birds covered in oil, stirred up from natural seeps in the ocean floor, the spring will bring hundreds and hundreds of orphaned baby birds, and in the summer and fall our aviaries will fill to the brim with Pelicans and Grebes. And then, there’s everything that we don’t expect. We need your help to save lives every day of the year.

If you have already made a gift to International Bird Rescue, please know how deeply grateful we are as we prepare for the year ahead. If you haven’t done so yet, don’t forget that this is your last chance to make a gift before the year ends!

Warmest wishes to you and yours for a happy and healthy new year,




Paul Kelway
Executive Director
International Bird Rescue


Please make a gift today to help International Bird Rescue patients of tomorrow.

Baby bird season is just around the corner!

See video by Jeff Robinson.

December 26, 2011

A Canvasback Duck Dives Back In

A Volunteer’s Story

Dear Friends,

Hundreds of birds have inspired me during my 9 years volunteering at International Bird Rescue, but the story of one Duck captures, for me, what it means to contribute to International Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation efforts each year.

Several months ago we admitted a very thin adult male Canvasback Duck with a compound fracture on his foot, a comminuted fracture in his wing, and very poor blood values. He had been hanging around a construction site where workers fed him parts of their lunches for 5 days before they realized he couldn’t fend for himself and needed help.

International Bird Rescue performed critical surgeries to remove bone fragments and infected tissue from his foot. His only chance for recovery was to be in water and off the foot while it healed. This was a problem since his wing also needed to be immobilized, and a traditional wing wrap would misalign his feathers, taking away his waterproofing. After careful consideration of his predicament, the staff and one of the interns made him a specially designed band that minimized damage to his feathers and enabled him to recuperate in a temperature-regulated hospital pool.

The food and supplies necessary to nourish and provide individualized care for birds like this Canvasback Duck can be costly, but donors like you enable us to give them every possible chance.

Soon we were able to move him to a larger outdoor pool where he started to dive; he gained weight and his blood values improved. In about a month he was flying and ready for release into a thriving population of Canvasbacks at Oakland’s Lake Merritt!

The successful rehabilitation of International Bird Rescue patients like this Duck inspires my dedicated support of this incredible nonprofit. I have taken part in the treatment of hundreds of birds, and know that each one is special and deserves our help.

I would like to humbly remind you that time is running out to make your year-end contribution to International Bird Rescue. Please donate today. Together we can provide each avian patient with the best possible care in 2012 and beyond.

With sincere thanks, and best wishes for the new year,

Marge Elliott, R.N.
International Bird Rescue

photo by Marie Travers – International Bird Rescue
Help prepare International Bird Rescue for another year of aquatic bird and seabird rehabilitation. Your generous donation will matter. 

More About Marge  

• Prior to volunteering at International Bird Rescue, Marge worked as a Registered Nurse for more than 35 years.

• Marge’s daughter is a biologist for PRBO and worked alongside International Bird Rescue during the 2001 Luckenbach oil spill in San Francisco.

• Marge had no experience with birds prior to her first volunteer orientation, and upon reflecting on that day she recalled the impressive skill of the staff, “And the birds— Wow! — Where had they been all my life?”

• And how long does Marge plan on volunteering at Bird Rescue? “As long as I can!”

December 23, 2011

An Adventurous Black-crowned Night Heron

The Black-crowned Night Heron on his second visit to International Bird Rescue. Photo: Marie Travers, International Bird Rescue

International Bird Rescue cares for more than 150 Black-crowned Night Herons each year. Some of these are fledglings that have fallen from an urban rookery above Santa Rosa’s bustling West Ninth Street. This group nests in trees above a 5 to 6 foot traffic median, and International Bird Rescue is continually grateful for and impressed by the efforts of Santa Rosa citizens to block off lanes to protect fallen birds from further injury.

The young birds that survive this fall can’t climb back into the branches without underbrush to assist them. Human intervention would involve large machinery, and the subsequent panic in the rookery would lead to even more fallen chicks. The safest and most responsible alternative is to raise fallen chicks at our Wildlife Centers and release them once they mature. One such fledgling, brought in to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Wildlife Center after straying from his nest in June, was ready to live on his own a month later. He was released at Oakland’s Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park.

Two weeks ago, the same Black-crowned Night Heron, identified by the numbered leg band he was given prior to his original release, was brought back to International Bird Rescue. This roving Heron was found in Watsonville, roughly 85 miles away from his Oakland release site. This time he was suffering from an accident that left him with one missing toe and several broken ones.

Recovering well, it is nearly time for this bird’s second release; a volunteer will drive him back to Watsonville on Saturday. Much like Pelicans K14 and K15, spotted thriving in the wild last month, this Black-crowned Night Heron shows that many of our avian patients go on to live adventurous lives post-treatment.



December 20, 2011

From New Zealand – Home for the Holidays

Photo from Maritime New Zealand: Graeme Brown Visionmedia

Sunday was the last day for the International Bird Rescue response team here in New Zealand. 23 birds were released from a Coast Guard boat on the southwest part of Motiti Island. These are the last of the Motiti birds that can be released at this point. There are nearly 30 more that are ready to go, but they are being kept until more cleanup on their section of the island has been completed.

Depending on the progression of cleanup and the continued recovery of any oiled wildlife, the temporary wildlife center may be demobilized this week. If the Home Bay area of Motiti Island is cleared, then there would only be about 10-15 birds remaining. There is a plan under consideration to send these birds to the Wildlife Health Center at Massey until their part of the island is cleaned and they can be released. A container filled with supplies, an aviary and several pools is being prepared for shipment and set up at Massey University in readiness for that.

On Monday night there was a farewell gathering at the beach where we have released many of the Little Blue Penguins. About 60 people attended, and after over two months here we are sad to be saying goodbye to our New Zealand colleagues, but we are happy to be heading home in time for the holidays. We wish our colleagues at Massey University the very best with the final stages of this response and are very grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside them in what has been an excellent response on behalf of oiled wildlife.

Curt Clumpner
Preparedness Director
International Bird Rescue

December 19, 2011

Happy Holidays

December 16, 2011

It’s Not Too Late to Give the Gift of International Bird Rescue!

“Put a bird on it!”

That’s the simple solution from Portlandia’s comedic duo Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein on how to make all specialty gift shop tchotchkes simply irresistible.

They go a bit overboard, of course. But we understand the temptation—especially with our new and improved logo.

This holiday season, surprise wildlife lovers in your life with a cool T-shirt, travel mug, or iPhone 4 case that shows their support for bird rescue around the globe.

Five fantastic finds under $40 at our online store:

Organic Toddler T-Shirt Ceramic Travel Mug
($27.99) ($22.99)
Sigg Water Bottle iPhone 4 Clear Case
($29.99) ($24.99)
Men’s Performance Dry T-Shirt

December 15, 2011

Crash Landings and Recent Mass Grounding of Grebes in Utah

Through the combined efforts of Southwest Wildlife Foundation, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and volunteers, rescued Grebes this week were released back into the wild.

Staff members at International Bird Rescue are no strangers to the phenomenon of “crash landed” birds, which we typically call “grounded” birds. Severe storm conditions can bring down birds – and sometimes they mistake wet pavement and large puddles as landing areas. The birds most vulnerable to this phenomenon are Grebes, Loons and some species of waterfowl.

This week, approximately 3,000 Eared Grebes crashed in various locations around Southern Utah, presumably mistaking wet surfaces, like one Walmart parking lot, for large bodies of water.

After hard landings on solid ground or in shallow puddles, birds like this cannot get lift off. They require a water runway to gain momentum and height. Grounded birds are vulnerable to predators and vehicles, and as they struggle to fly they can injure themselves even more. About 2,000 of Utah’s grounded Eared Grebes have been rescued and released into open water, which is an excellent percentage in light of an occurrence of this magnitude.

International Bird Rescue has had a few smaller scale incidents like the crash landings in Utah, especially during fall and spring migrations, when birds are active and on the move. The lucky ones are brought into our two California wildlife rehabilitation centers. These birds are mostly very healthy and strong, with cuts and bruises that are easily treated. They are released as quickly as possible.

I remember 30 years ago when a very powerful storm with high winds moved through the San Francisco Bay Area and grounded a large number of Pacific Loons. 40 of these Loons were brought to our wildlife rehabilitation center within 6 hours. It was crazy – the pools were full, but all but 2 were released.

The situation in Utah is unusual in that so many Eared Grebes were brought down at one time. Ideally every survivor would be examined and treated prior to release, but in an emergency situation like this, where expertise and resources are limited, the best thing to do is to capture the survivors and get them to open water ASAP.

It looks like the rescuers in Utah did that as best they could, and I am sure that many of the birds that survived a hard landing did so because the snow and grassy areas acted as a cushion for them. All of us at International Bird Rescue would like to acknowledge and thank the people who spent many hours helping these birds and giving them a second chance.

Jay Holcomb
Director Emeritus
International Bird Rescue

December 12, 2011

Donors Like You and I Make The Difference

Dear Fellow International Bird Rescue Supporters, 

I first heard about International Bird Rescue (Bird Rescue) following an oiled bird incident near Ventura, California in 2005. I had just retired from 35 years at IBM and was reading the Los Angeles Times when a description of Bird Rescue’s lifesaving work piqued my interest. At the time, I couldn’t have told you the difference between a pigeon and a pelican, but their work resonated with one of my strongest worldviews.

Humans are one of millions of species on the planet, yet we are the only ones in the position to destroy (or choose to protect) the rest. I value biodiversity and often find myself asking what we can do about things like habitat destruction and pollution, and what I can do to effect a change. I decided to attend Bird Rescue’s next volunteer orientation.

Ever since retiring I had been on the hunt for a nonprofit to get involved with; I have always liked to be committed to something bigger than myself, but coming off of a career at IBM, my standards were extremely high. I was looking for a group whose mission was clear and passionate, but it also needed to be a strong, ethical organization with smart, capable people. I needed to respect their use of resources and feel not only their passion but also their professionalism.

International Bird Rescue swept me off my feet in every single one of these categories. They ethically, intelligently, passionately and professionally cleaned the oil off birds – but that was not all. I soon learned that, in addition to worldwide oil spill response, International Bird Rescue cares for over 5,000 birds a year at their Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Wildlife Centers, and the purchase of food, supplies and medicine for the birds at the centers is only made possible by donors like you and I.

After attending that first orientation, I committed to volunteering in the Los Angeles Wildlife Center for four hours a week. Four hours turned into a full day, a full day turned into two, and before I knew it I was the one teaching Saturday morning volunteer orientations!

Jay Holcomb, now International Bird Rescue’s Director Emeritus, asked me to join the board of directors in 2007, and over the years I have learned to feel just as passionate about donating to International Bird Rescue as I do about volunteering; the reason being that no matter how hard working and committed our volunteers are (and they are!), aquatic bird rehabilitation costs money.

It is easy for me to be enthusiastic and energetic about supporting International Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation efforts because they are consistently practical and wise in the use of resources and always keep a keen focus on giving each avian patient the best possible care.

This is why I feel so comfortable asking you to give generously to International Bird Rescue, during this holiday season when opportunities to give abound. I chose International Bird Rescue as an avenue to effect change, and I ask that you consider doing the same. 5,000 or more seabirds and other aquatic birds will thank you over the course of 2012.

All the best for the holiday season and beyond,

Dave Weeshoff
Chair, Board of Directors
International Bird Rescue


For 40 years International Bird Rescue has been available 24/7/365
to treat birds suffering from oil spills, other injuries, and illnesses.

Your donations make this possible.

December 1, 2011

Every Pelican Has a Story

Dear Friends,

563 Brown Pelicans were brought in to International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Wildlife Centers in need of treatment this year; each has its own story.

Fledgling Pelicans K14 and K15, called by the numbers on the leg bands, exemplify some of the serious issues faced by the aquatic birds in our clinics. K14 arrived weak and thin from starvation, while K15 suffered from infection from a life-threatening pouch laceration. Upon rescue in June, both birds had only been out of their Channel Islands nests for about two months when they found themselves in these desperate states.

It is our responsibility and everyone’s duty to help these birds.

Pelicans’ close interactions with people are their greatest danger. Pollution threatens their health and ability to float, monofilament line entanglement can reduce circulation to their limbs, and fishing hooks can cause long tears in their pouches, making it impossible for them to feed.

Each Brown Pelican that is rehabilitated and released from International Bird Rescue’s Wildlife Centers is fitted with a blue band with bold white lettering. These blue-banded Pelicans are part of an ongoing post-release study that allows us to see that our rescue and rehabilitation efforts are working. Thanks to their bands, both K14 and K15 were recently spotted alive and well, foraging in Half Moon Bay four months after their release! These sightings are significant, as they demonstrate the long-term value of our rehabilitation efforts. See: Report Blue-Banded Pelicans

The breadth of our clinical work and research is made possible through the heroic support of donors like you.

Over the years, International Bird Rescue has saved thousands of Brown Pelicans like K14 and K15. If we can give these birds proper medical care, a healthy and plentiful diet of fish (from 5 to 10 pounds a day per Pelican), and aviaries where they can exercise, bathe and feed, then they can return to the wild and thrive.

It’s why I’m asking for your help now.

In HBO’s recent documentary Saving Pelican 895 I noted, “Populations are made up of individuals, and if you start looking at individuals as if they’re not important, then ultimately the population becomes unimportant.” It’s absolutely true!

Please consider making a gift to International Bird Rescue to help support the rescue and rehabilitation of aquatic birds and seabirds. These individuals are important, and your generous donation will make a meaningful difference in the life of one of these magnificent creatures.


Jay Holcomb
Director Emeritus
International Bird Rescue

Show Your Support

When Pelicans like K14 and K15 needed help International Bird Rescue was there for them.
Now it’s your turn to help.

Brown Pelican K15, treated at Bird Rescue, suffered from an infection from a life-threatening pouch laceration. Photo by Stan Jensen

What Does It Take To Help a Pelican?

Every patient at International Bird Rescue receives its own care plan. Pelican rehabilitation can include antibiotics, anesthesia, surgical supplies, and 3-5 weeks of hearty meals – and this is for a species that eats half its bodyweight in fish each day!