Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for March 2013

March 29, 2013

Our first orphaned duckling of the year has arrived!


Dear friend,

Every year at about this time, our wildlife care centers prepare for the first orphaned wild ducklings of spring.

And without exception, these precious young birds arrive at our doorstep — sometimes by the hundreds. Last year alone, IBR received 2,000 orphaned wild ducklings.

On March 26, our San Francisco Bay center staff received its first mallard duckling from Lake Temescal in Oakland. It had been separated from its mom and was being attacked by an adult duck.

There are many reasons why large numbers of orphaned ducklings end up at our centers. Many mother ducks see landscaped yards as prime nesting spots. Once hatched, mother ducks must walk their babies to the closest available water. In that initial and important first journey, they meet cars, dogs, people, steep gutters, storm drains and wild predators. Many ducklings become separated and stranded and attempts to reunite them with their panicked mother are often futile. They end up at one of our centers.

This video of a highway patrolman stopping rush-hour traffic on California’s Interstate 5 as a mother duck and her babies attempted to cross the freeway emphasizes the challenges that they face.

gutter-ducklings-good-250pxThese ducklings and other young birds need food, warmth, shelter and sometimes medical care for illness or injury.

How can you help? For just $25, an honorary adoption of an orphaned duckling can make a big difference in the lives of these young birds. Or, for just $75, you can symbolically adopt a clutch of ducklings.

As our centers fill with orphaned birds this season, we are looking for 100 bird-loving adopters to step forward in the next week. Will you be one of them? Can you help us pass the word along to others who want to join us as well?

With your adoption gift, we’ll email you a beautiful, official International Bird Rescue adoption certificate, suitable for full-page printing and framing.

mobile-certificateYou can also give an adoption as a gift: We can also send a PDF adoption certificate with your gift recipient’s name and a personalized message. It looks great on a smartphone, iPad or other personal devices!

International Bird Rescue is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Your gift is tax-deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Together, let’s help these young birds in need. Click here to get started.


Jay Holcomb
Director, International Bird Rescue

PS- If you find an injured or orphaned bird please call 1-866-WILD-911. This free service will help you locate the nearest wildlife rehabilitation organization to help you.


March 28, 2013

News roundup, March 28

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 9.18.41 AMGrasshopper Sparrow, photo by Luke Seitz via American Bird Conservancy

What’s new?

—Mother Jones takes a look at a class of widely used insecticides called neonicotinoids and research on their effect on birds, including one recent study by Dr. Pierre Mineau and Cynthia Palmer published by the American Bird Conservancy:

Their conclusion: Neonics are highly mobile and persistent once they’re unleashed into ecosystems, and they pose a serious threat to birds and the insects they feed on. The EPA, they continue, has in some cases severely underestimated the danger and in other cases simply ignored it. The underestimation, they argue, mainly stems from the widespread use of two bird species to judge toxicity, mallards and bobwhites. [Mother Jones]

—An estimated 1,000 ducks have been found dead in the Nanhe River of China’s Sichuan Province. This is the same region that saw a staggering 16,000 dead pigs in the Huangpu River and tributaries over the past month. [Huffington Post]

—In Florida, nearly 200 endangered manatees have fallen victim to the toxins produced in “red tide” algal blooms, which cause damage to the central RedTideRescuenervous system of affected animals (photo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). [Wired]

—Via NatGeo, Close encounters with Emperor Penguins in Antarctica. [National Geographic]

—Wonderful video on a long-term project to eradicate nonnative rats from California’s Anacapa Island, home to the Scripps’s Murrelet and other seabirds.


—Bird fact of the week, via @intbirdrescue on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 9.27.34 AM

IBR-oystercatcher by Jackie Wollner
Oystercatcher photo by Jackie Wollner


March 25, 2013

Thank you for supporting The Pelican Aviary Project!


Update: Additional thanks to donor Anita Johanson Maddox! And: We are also very fortunate to have the support of small business and corporate donors for this project. Thank you to the team at National Payday for your donation.

The Pelican Aviary Project, our first foray into online crowdfunding, was a success in more ways than one. To name a few:

—We reached our $15,000 target goal to help pay for major renovations to the pelican aviary at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center.

—We’ve raised well over $1,000 for the “Fill the Bill” campaign to secure funding for fish and other necessities for pelicans treated at the center. Come summer, we could see hundreds of pelicans, if the trend of previous years continues.

—We’ve connected with wildlife lovers of all ages from 15 states and six countries!

In the coming weeks, we’ll keep you updated on our progress with the aviary. Thank you!

Team International Bird Rescue

P.S. — If you made a donation to the campaign using the anonymous option but would like your name posted to this list, just email us and we’ll be happy to add it to the contributor roster.



March 21, 2013

Our youngest Pelican Aviary Project patron…


The Pelican Aviary Project — our first-ever online crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, which ends tomorrow — has been a success in more ways than one. To name a few:

—We reached our $15,000 target to help pay for major renovations to the pelican aviary at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center.

—We’ve raised well over $1,000 for the “Fill the Bill” campaign to secure funding for fish and other necessities for pelicans treated at the center. Come summer, we could see hundreds of pelicans, if the trend of previous years continues.

—We’ve connected with wildlife lovers of all ages from 15 states and six countries!

Among our new pelican aviary pals is 5-year-old Kai Johnson of Reno, Nevada, who saved up $50 of his weekly allowance to help these magnificent animals.

Kai was introduced to the bird world through Richard Grise, one of our great Southern California volunteers who took this budding wildlife champion on a tour of the center. Upon hearing of the Pelican Aviary Project, he decided he wanted to save as much money as possible to give to the campaign.

His favorite bird? The Peregrine Falcon: Kai loves their speed and has seen many fly near Morro Rock.

Thanks, Kai, from all of us at International Bird Rescue!


Haven’t had a chance to donate yet? Join Kai — there’s still time! (And still plenty of great thank-you gifts!) Visit our Indiegogo page to find out more.


Kai joins several other talented and inspired youth who are working with us to save wildlife. Check out these previous posts on our blog:

A local Boy Scout’s ambitious project for the pelicans

Brownies and birds!

March 21, 2013

The Release Files: This Common Loon is anything but “common”


East Bay Regional Park District supervising naturalist and KQED QUEST contributor Sharol Nelson-Embry recently wrote a blog post on this Common Loon, found wrapped in fishing line by park visitor Martha Ashton-Sikora. Upon transfer to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center, X-rays later showed this bird had also swallowed a hook (both are common predicaments we see in our bird patients).

Fellow park district supervising naturalist James Frank recently sent us these photos of the loon’s release at Crown Memorial State Beach. Above, Ashton-Sikora, IBR volunteer Dawn Furseth and Trevor, a staffer with East Bay Regional Park District, give the loon a great send-off. Thanks, team!


COLO release1


March 19, 2013

L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino visits International Bird Rescue

International Bird Rescue’s Dave Weeshoff (left) with L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino. Photos by Bill Steinkamp.

Many thanks to Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who on Monday visited the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in San Pedro, operated by International Bird Rescue.

Here, Councilman Buscaino gets a tour of the facility and aviaries with International Bird Rescue’s Dave Weeshoff.

Buscaino also observed an egret in care (shown here with IBR staff member Kelly Berry) as well as the intake of an oiled Common Murre with staff member Neil Uelman.





March 19, 2013

Once oiled, these Common Murres return to their ocean home

As you may have read recently on this blog, our Los Angeles center has had a busy season with oiled Common Murres — medium-sized seabirds that nest on rocky cliffs. Natural oil seepage off the Santa Barbara coast is to blame; because these oiled birds are affected by natural causes rather than a human-caused oil spill, the high cost of rehabilitating these animals falls largely on IBR and other area wildlife groups.

We’re pleased to report that we’ve rehabilitated many of these birds and have begun releasing them back to the wild.

Last week, volunteer photographer/videographer Bill Steinkamp filmed evaluations and releases of three such Common Murres. Here, staff rehab technician Kylie Clatterbuck and intern Andrea Murrieta check waterproofing and band a murre ready for release.


March 18, 2013

KQED profiles Common Loon in International Bird Rescue’s care

Common Loon at SFB Center

This post was originally written for KQED’s QUEST multimedia series by Sharol Nelson-Embry, Supervising Naturalist at the Crab Cove Visitor Center & Aquarium in Alameda. The loon (pictured above, photo by Cheryl Reynolds) was released on Saturday at Crown Beach in the East Bay. We’ll be updating this post soon with photos of the release!

She was sick, alone, and stranded on a beach, her head wrapped in fishing line that had cut down to the bone in some areas. Even without the injuries, she would have had a hard time taking flight from the sand. Loons are built for a water takeoff with feet far back on their bodies. This Common Loon (COLO) was lucky, though, that Martha noticed her and went to get help. Martha found James and Trevor, East Bay Regional Parks naturalist staff at Crown Beach, and they came to COLO’s rescue.

Throwing a jacket over her head to protect themselves and help calm her down, they were able to pick her up and prepare her for transport to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and Hospital in Walnut Creek. She ended up at the International Bird Rescue in Cordelia, CA as they specialize in caring for waterbirds. The staff vets removed the monofilament and stitched up her wounds. X-rays revealed that COLO had swallowed a hook. Surgery would be required to remove that.

Common loons are migratory, spectacular, large grayish birds who winter along the East and West coasts, including San Francisco Bay, and nest in the far northern US, Canada, Alaska, and the Arctic. (Some of you may remember Henry Ford and Katherine Hepburn’s movie, “On Golden Pond,” which made the yodeling call of the loon and lifelong love forever entwined in my mind. But I digress.) Loons can dive deeply and chase their small fish prey to depths of up to 200 feet using their large feet to propel them underwater. Usually though they fish in shallow, nearshore waters.

Discarded fishing line, tackle and hooks pose threats to loons and other wildlife. One initiative to help educate fishermen about the importance of cleaning up after themselves is underway in many fishing spots along our shores. Monofilament collection bins have been installed in many areas and information is being distributed about where they can send their line to have it recycled.  You can help wildlife by donating time or resources to the facilities and volunteers who do the important work in the day-to-day care for our injured wildlife. Wildcare is another important wildlife care facility operating in the Bay Area.


March 15, 2013

Friday Rounds: Common Goldeneye healing from mandible injury

Photo by Isabel Luevano

This winter, our San Francisco Bay center has received into care a few injured Common Goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula) — beautiful diving ducks that winter in the open inland waters of our area.

This male Common Goldeneye was brought to us emaciated with a laceration underneath its mandible, rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano reports. The injury created a piercing which caused the bird’s tongue to fall through it, rendering this animal unable to eat.


Our staff veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, sutured the wound, and now the bird is “eating fish like there’s no tomorrow,” Luevano reports. The goldeneye is recovering in a pelagic pool and needs to both gain weight and heal its wound before it can be released.

Below, a photo of another Common Goldeneye cared for by our San Francisco Bay center earlier this season (photo by Cheryl Reynolds).


March 15, 2013

Local love, courtesy RPV TV in Rancho Palos Verdes

RPV TV in Rancho Palos Verdes recently visited International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center in nearby San Pedro for a great story on our day-to-day rehabilitation work. Thanks to station manager Mark Doddy and his team for a comprehensive segment!

March 12, 2013

News roundup, March 12

What’s new?

—CNN takes a look at marine debris and its effects on the Hawaiian Islands (video above). Correspondent Kyung Lah visits Kamilo Beach on the Big Island, where groups such as Hawaii Wildlife Fund are cleaning up plastic trash and other debris, much of it from the 2011 tsunami disaster in Japan. Lah also observes a necrospy of a two-month-old albatross chick: 80% of the bird’s stomach was filled with indigestible plastic. [CNN]

Western_Meadowlark—Western Meadowlarks, Bobolinks and other grassland bird species face rapidly-declining populations, and according to new research, insecticides known as neonicotinoids could be to blame, the New York Times reports:

[A] new study by two Canadian toxicologists raises an old specter. They found that collapsing bird populations were more strongly correlated with insecticide use than with habitat alteration — that, in fact, pesticides were four times more likely to be linked with bird losses than any other cause.

This would not have come as news to Rachel Carson, whose most famous book, “Silent Spring,” documented the disastrous effects of DDT on birds. DDT was banned in 1972, but it was followed by organophosphate and carbamate pesticides that were also highly lethal to birds. And while these pesticides have since been largely withdrawn from use, a new generation of nerve-agent insecticides called neonicotinoids could pose a further threat.

These insecticides are now under review by the Environmental Protection Agency. They have caused huge die-offs of honeybees in Europe and provoked an uproar among scientists, not least because the studies that purported to establish their safety were financed by pesticide manufacturers. We hope that the Canadian study, establishing a clear link between pesticides and grassland bird losses, will cause the E.P.A. to consider the next generation of insecticides in a more critical light. [New York Times]

—Bay Nature’s David Cruz writes about his recent encounter with the elusive, nocturnal Common Poorwill (photo right) at Butano State Park in David Cruz-Common PoorwillSan Mateo County. [Bay Nature]

—Domoic acid-producing algae blooms, a scourge of many marine animals including seabirds, have killed a record number of manatees off Florida’s southwest Gulf Coast. [Reuters]

—Round Robin has an authoritative report on the plight of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse here (accompanying video below). [Round Robin-Cornell Lab of Ornithology]


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March 11, 2013

Fish-hooked pelican on the mend

Photo by Paul Berry
Photos by Paul Berry

We recently wrote on this blog about yet another Brown Pelican brought to us with multiple fish hook injuries, including one in the bird’s neck. Click here to see IBR rehab technician Kelly Berry remove the hooks from this animal.

Thankfully, Berry reports that the bird is doing very well and is now living in the aviary. “The neck wound, which was a deep hole, has almost contracted fully, and the remaining injuries are all resolved,” Berry said. The bird remains on antibiotics until the neck wound is fully closed and healed.

March 9, 2013

The Amazon.com wish list — version 2.0!

With spring on its way, our centers in Northern and Southern California are in need of a wide range of supplies, and we’ve updated our Amazon.com wish lists for a creative way to pitch in. From Post-Its to a digital camera, there’s something on the list for every budget. Here are just a few of the needed items:


Why the feather duster, you may ask? Answer: It doubles as a surrogate parent for orphaned chicks. (Watch the video below from 2009 to see what we mean!)

March 8, 2013

Friday Rounds: A Mew Gull recovering from burns


On Thursday, International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center received a Mew Gull (Larus canus) with severe burns. Center manager Michelle Bellizzi reports that an exam of the bird showed burns on the bird’s feathers, as well as its skin and the tops of the patagium (the front edge of the wing between wrist and shoulder). This little gull was also suffering from hock lesions, and its primary feathers had to be cut, as they were burned beyond use.

How had this gull been so severely burned? We could not immediately rule out animal cruelty. International Bird Rescue has seen cruelty cases of every stripe: pelicans with slashed pouches or clipped wings, gulls with “beer-can collars,” nesting terns on barges deliberately disturbed, leading to the deaths of their young.

In this case, we knew that the animal had been brought to Pinole Animal Control. Our team of sleuthing wildlife rehabilitators quickly tracked down the answers: Workers at a nearby wastewater treatment plant had brought the bird to the animal shelter after it had been caught in the facility’s methane flare that had been suddenly turned on. The workers who helped bring this bird into care were very happy to hear it’s alive and in IBR’s care.


This Mew Gull’s prognosis is guarded, however. If all goes well, it will take the bird many months (and up to a year) to molt in new feathers. We’ll keep you updated on its progress.

Mew Gull 3

Read more about this small gull species at All About Birds.

March 7, 2013

Pelican with fish hook injuries

Each year, International Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation centers in California treat hundreds of Brown Pelicans. About 40% of these birds brought to us suffer from fishing tackle-related injuries.

Here, our Los Angeles center staff remove multiple hooks from an adult pelican. (Viewer discretion is advised.)

We depend upon your support to help these birds. Find out more at birdrescue.org/donate.