Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for June 2012

June 28, 2012

Pelicans need Partners too!

Become a Pelican Partner and Help a Pelican Get His Life Back on Track

We are only 8 Pelican Partnerships away from reaching our goal of $20,000 by the Fourth of July!

“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.”

– Jay Holcomb, Director Emeritus, International Bird Rescue, in the film Saving Pelican 895


Pelican Y-1759

A generous donor has offered to match up to $10,000 in gifts made before the Fourth of July. Your gift today will make twice the difference for the birds we care for!

Pelicans spread their wings and take flight after rehabilitation at International Bird Rescue

Your generosity saves lives.

Dear Friends,

Brown Pelicans are a defining symbol of our coastlines. Often seen as an indicator species, the health of their population closely reflects the very health of the ecosystem. When there are environmental crises like 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, many take notice of Pelicans and other wildlife in harm’s way. But every year International Bird Rescue cares for hundreds of Pelicans, many suffering from human-caused injuries such as fishing-line entanglements, where there is no responsible party to cover the cost of their care. The plight of these birds often goes unnoticed, except for by the caring few.

One such patient, California Brown Pelican Y-1759, has been in care at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Center for nearly 7 months now. After a severe wing injury, his body overcompensated for a fracture, fusing the two bones together and rendering him flightless. Just like in a human arm, the bones in a bird’s wing must be independently mobile in order for them to fly, so it took cutting edge surgery and rigorous physical therapy for Pelican Y-1759 to be able to fly again and gain the strength he’ll need to thrive in the wild.

Become a Pelican Partner today and help future patients receive the care they need.

Pelicans consume 6 – 10 pounds of fish a day at up to $2.05 a pound, and when you factor in surgical and other medical expenses, providing them with the care they need can be an expensive business, and birds do not come to us with health insurance!

By becoming a Pelican Partner with a gift of $500 you help to make this lifesaving work possible for the thousands of seabirds we care for every year. And, as one of a select few who have truly chosen to be guardians for birds in need, you will also get the opportunity to accompany our staff as we release one of our Pelican patients back into the wild! As well as an exclusive tour of one of our centers and a chance to see a Pelican getting its final medical exam and numbered leg band, Pelican Partners and their guests are invited to open the cage at the release site as your partner Pelican takes its first steps into the open and soars away.

Recognizing that for many of us, a single $500 gift is out of reach, International Bird Rescue will track your individual gifts made in 2012 and beyond so that cumulatively they count towards becoming a Pelican Partner. This means that if you make a recurring donation, you will reach this milestone and join our circle of Pelican Partners in no time!

Not every Pelican’s treatment plan is as complex as that of Pelican Y-1759, but their recoveries and releases are always a triumph. We hope that when his big day comes, and someone opens the door for him, he flies off strong and never looks back, and we hope you’ll consider becoming a Pelican Partner to ensure we can be there for every bird that needs our help.

With heartfelt thanks,

Paul Kelway
Executive Director
International Bird Rescue

June 19, 2012

If Birds Could Talk…

Every bird that comes in to International Bird Rescue has its own story, and while they can't tell us what they've been through, we sometimes wish they could.

Donate Now

This summer,
please consider
making a gift to
International Bird


For the next 15 days,
a generous donor
will match
your contribution,
dollar for dollar,
up to a total of


International Bird Rescue
is hard at work
every day of the year,
and it is rare for
a day to go by
without new arrivals requiring
urgent medical care.


When you make your gift
repeat monthly,
you will help us
save lives whenever
there are birds in need.


Dear Friends,

Picture yourself stranded on a desert island with your arms tied behind your back and your favorite food stuck out in the ocean in front of you – just out of reach. Your clothes are soaked in cold water, which makes you even colder, and as capable as you are under normal circumstances, you know that there is nothing you can do to help yourself now.

This was me, a few weeks back, but being a Pacific Loon (and not a human, like yourself) my desert island was the coast of Santa Barbara, and my inability to reach food was the result of oil that had seeped up from the ocean floor. Thick crude was covering my feathers, and I was beached and freezing because this oil had compromised my feathers’ ability to keep me buoyant and waterproof.

Unable to control my instinct to preen, I was spreading this toxic oil from the outside in, ingesting the thick substance as I worked in vain to clean and realign my feathers.

Like you, on your hypothetical desert island, I needed someone to rescue me, but my hopes were dwindling – after all, there was no one to blame for the disaster that was putting my life in danger.

Ever since the day I hatched I had been hearing about these so-called natural oil seeps, but they seemed like something far off and surreal – like tsunamis or tornados – something that would never happen to me. I had also learned about oil spills – the ones where a ship’s contents suddenly spill out and endanger birds like me. Older birds said these disasters were dangerous, too, but since big spills got a lot of attention, help often followed.

I wondered what would happened now that the disaster was natural and more gradual – when the problem was easy to look past, unless it was happening to you. Would anyone even notice me, let alone try to help?

With time my hopeless discomfort turned to blistering pain. I looked down to see the skin on my right leg burning – it had been exposed to the oil for far too long. Little by little the chemical sting became so unbearable that when the effects of hypothermia and starvation started numbing my body and dimming my consciousness I was thankful for the welcome escape.

Before I knew it I was transported to a building where people were poking and prodding… and feeding me – these people had food!

I was relieved to eat, but it was hard to relax in this foreign environment. I couldn’t understand why I was being carried from place to place, but I felt my temperature returning to normal and noticed that there were other birds there too.

Scared and confused, I was reluctant to accept the help of these humans, but they seemed sure of the treatments they were giving me, and it all hurt less if I didn’t struggle. When they put me in a tub of water I felt a little calmer – but this was hardly the end.

Now the poking and prodding gave way to scrubbing and dunking and within minutes I was in and out of so much sudsy water I didn’t know which way was up. They began using a contraption to shoot water in under my feathers, freeing me completely from all of the suds. I grasped, at last, that all this action was aimed at removing the crude. I started to look and feel like myself again, and for the first time since my oiling I thought that I might survive.

It turns out that there is help for natural oil seep victims, and this life-saving aid starts with you.

While everyone knows that victims of oil spills and other human-caused disasters need help, too few realize the dangers of naturally occurring threats like oil seeps, toxic algal blooms and extreme weather. International Bird Rescue is the last line of defense for birds like me. When our lives are endangered by oil, illness, or injury, we have generous humans like you to make sure that International Bird Rescue is always here for us.

Through July 4, a generous donor will match your gift to International Bird Rescue, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000. That means your support will have twice the impact.

Please make a gift today.



International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Center’s 207th oiled patient of 2012

Every bird matters.

June 11, 2012

Help Fix Broken Birds

Young Black-crowned Night Herons Grow Strong at International Bird Rescue

 Donate Now

Please help us raise $20,000
by the Fourth of July
and give birds like this
fledgling Heron all of the
medical care, medicine, and
food that they need
to grow up strong and
make it on their own.


Birds in need arrive
at our emergency clinics
every day.


Make your gift monthly
so they can receive the
care they need
throughout the year.

Dear Friends,

Every year International Bird Rescue takes in more than 400 young, and often broken, Herons and Egrets.

Heron and Egret chicks start to leave the nest and perch on branches less than two weeks after hatching, and with all of the chaos in their crowded rookeries, many lose their balance and plummet to the ground. As our cities expand over more and more natural nesting areas, Herons and Egrets are left with the dangerous option of raising their young in places like street medians, where branches stretch out over cleared, hardened earth – and bustling streets – and after hard falls, fledglings face broken bones and no chance of returning to their nests. Without your help their odds of survival are grim.

Late last month a fallen Black-crowned Night Heron chick was rescued from Sonoma County. He was found to have a badly broken right leg, blood in his right ear, parasites, dehydration and a low body temperature. Once International Bird Rescue staff had splinted his leg under anesthesia, his complex rehabilitation plan included expensive medication to fight infection, inflammation, and parasites, doses of calcium to help form a callus over his break, vitamins A and D to help absorb the calcium, and a regimen of a few hours of sunlight each day to help metabolize it.

Young birds have especially voracious appetites – and this one has been eating up to a pound of fish every day. Our staff and volunteers are closely monitoring his progress, administering radiographs and changing his splint as he heals and grows. Since he has gained strength, he has been moved to an aviary with other Black-crowned Night Herons to allow him to develop the social and developmental skills he will need to survive. Once he is able to fly well and forage on his own, International Bird Rescue will release him back into the wild.

When you give generously to International Bird Rescue, you are giving birds like this young Black-crowned Night Heron the priceless gift of a second chance at independence. Please help us raise $20,000 by the Fourth of July and give birds like this fledgling Heron all of the medical care, medicine, and food that they need to grow up strong and make it on their own.

Heron and Egret patients that were rescued and released as chicks have been re-sighted thriving – and even breeding – in the wild years later. Reports like these remind us of the true value of our lifesaving work, and we can only hope that you are as inspired as we are to help every bird that needs us.





Jay Holcomb
Director Emeritus
International Bird Rescue

The Black-crowned Night Heron's broken tibiotarsus is splinted at International Bird Rescue.

June 7, 2012

What do dads and seabirds have in common?

Whether your dad’s ultimate Father’s Day includes fishing, surfing or just hanging out on the sand, he certainly has at least one shared interest with the seabirds or other aquatic birds you could save together through International Bird Rescue’s newly improved adoption program.

Adopting a Pelican, Heron, Loon, Murre or duckling in your Father’s name will help International Bird Rescue keep our centers ready for the thousands of avian patients that will need us this year.

Plus, International Bird Rescue adoptions are now as easy as click, click, click.

•    Choose to adopt a Pelican, Heron, Loon, Murre or duckling
•    Customize your certificate with your dad’s name
•    Print your certificate to enclose in a card – or send it to him by email!

Your generous participation helps to keep local and global populations of aquatic birds healthy, so that your kids have plenty of Pelicans, Herons, Loons, Murres and ducklings to share the shores with someday.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

Happy Father’s Day,

International Bird Rescue 



June 1, 2012

Sticky Situations: Owls in Need

Click photo to watch this once entangled Barn Owl's release back into the wild.

Donate Now

It took many hands to save this Great Horned Owl.

Dear Friends,

International Bird Rescue is a world leader in treating oiled and entangled seabirds and other aquatic birds, but there are times when our help is needed by animals that fall outside of our usual spectrum of species. Such was the case this past month when our San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles Centers each admitted Owls in need of specialized care: one entangled, and the other oiled.

Worried about a Barn Owl trapped in thick netting inside a manufacturing facility, a local garbage company made a call to our San Francisco Bay Center. International Bird Rescue enlisted longtime volunteer Jeff Robinson to visit the building, where he applied years of entanglement experience to the task of safely freeing the Owl and transporting it to International Bird Rescue for medical examination and treatment. Its release back into the wild was a truly moving experience.

It is help like yours that empowers International Bird Rescue to rescue such magnificent creatures when they are in great danger.

Shortly thereafter, our Los Angeles Center received a Great Horned Owl from the Ojai Raptor Center. Covered in clear oil and unsuccessfully washed by its finder before being brought to the Raptor Center, it was in need of International Bird Rescue’s team of rehabilitators who specialize in washing oiled birds. The intake evaluation revealed that after all this Owl had been through it was in too weak a state to endure the stress of a wash, and that it would need to be stabilized first – knowing when to wait to wash a bird can be just as lifesaving as knowing how. Once this bird had regained its strength, it went through the intensive and exhausting wash process. It is now eating heartily and on its way to a great recovery.

We are always aware of the critical role that you play in our ability to say, “Yes. We would love to help!” Whether we are called in by other wildlife organizations or notified by concerned citizens, International Bird Rescue bears the brunt of the expenses in caring for birds like these Owls.

You keep our doors open to respond to daily emergencies – providing the lifesaving donations that will give thousands of birds this year a chance to recover and return to a life in the wild. Please help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 between now and Independence Day so that International Bird Rescue can continue to offer expert and individualized care to every bird that arrives at our Centers.

Every bird matters, and so does every donation.

Warmest Wishes,

Paul Kelway
Executive Director
International Bird Rescue