Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for July 2013

July 30, 2013

Glue traps, vegetable oil and other hazards affecting Western Gulls

Gull-Pelican IMG_6255-L
Photo by Bill Steinkamp

At last count, our Los Angeles center had 72 Western Gulls in care — the vast majority of which are gull chicks we’ve received, many from otherWEGu wildlife groups in the area.

But we’ve also cared for many adults, including these three birds found in particularly unfortunate circumstances (thanks to Neil Uelman and Kelly Berry for this info):


This gull shown below was found covered in oil at a local refinery in the Los Angeles area, and was captured by a refinery worker and brought to our center. Upon intake, our staff found that the gull was thin with bilateral droopy wings, given that its wings were covered in oil. After the bird was stabilized, our team performed a wash (the bird is now doing well and remains in care).

Photos by Paul Berry


Glue trap

This adult gull (below) was found stuck in a glue trap and was brought to California Wildlife Center on July 11, where it was stabilized prior to transfer to our Los Angeles center a few days later. We found the bird so heavily covered in glue that its wings were actually glued to the sides of its body. This required a combination of Dawn, methyl soyate and Goo Gone to remove the glue during the wash process. Post-wash, the bird is gaining weight and can finally stretch its wings out.

Photo by Paul Berry

Vegetable oil

Vegetable oil can prove as damaging as petroleum when it comes to a bird’s ability to waterproof and thermoregulate. Earlier this year, for example, a mystery spill off the coast of England was later determined to be refined vegetable oil, affecting scores of seabirds.

This gull was found 100% covered in vegetable oil in Oxnard, and was originally brought to Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network and transported shortly after to our center, where it was successfully washed.

Photos by Paul Berry



In addition to these adult gulls, the L.A. center has received dozens of gull chicks this season, as shown in the photos and video below.



July 29, 2013

The Second-Annual Banded Pelican Sighting Contest launches today!

Pelican C84, photo by Deanna Barth

Pelican lovers, take note: Today, we are pleased to announce International Bird Rescue’s Second-Annual Banded Pelican Contest, sponsored by Eagle Optics!

Our inaugural contest in 2012 yielded great results. Within two months, 119 Blue-Banded Pelican numbers were reported, representing an unprecedented number of pelican band sightings. Reporting the location where the bird is seen and the number from its large blue leg band helps us learn more about these birds, including their migration and their survivability in the wild. We have released over 1,100 California Brown Pelicans with blue bands from our wildlife hospitals since 2009. For more reading on the Blue-Banded Pelican Project, click here for a comprehensive overview.

Want to participate in this year’s contest? Whether you’ve spotted the number on a pelican’s metal federal band or an easy-to-read blue band, reporting a banded pelican sighting is easy. Just click here for the online reporting form. As you aid the important scientific research on the travels of the Pelecanus occidentalis, you will be helping in their conservation!


This year, our friends at Eagle Optics have again made a very generous donation for the winners of this contest. A eo3d_platinumVortex Nomad 20-60 X 60 Angled Spotting Scope will be awarded to the individual who reports the most sighted band numbers between July 29 and October 14. The runner-up will receive a fabulous pair of 2X Eagle Optics Denali 8 X 42 binoculars. Both winners will also become honorary Pelican Partners, our unique program that includes a private tour of an International Bird Rescue wildlife hospital and the exclusive opportunity to open the cage door to release a rehabilitated pelican back into the wild.

This week, International Bird Rescue’s BirdCam Project is also proudly sponsored by Eagle Optics. Check out a live look at ducklings and other birds in care this week.


This year’s contest begins July 29 and runs through October 14. Here are the rules:

1. The contest is open to all age groups. Youth participants accompanying adults can report the same birds as their parents. (Employees of International Bird Rescue are ineligible for prizes.)

2. Any banded pelican can be reported. Not all pelicans with a metal, federal band will also have a plastic blue band. Metal bands have a prefix and suffix, e.g. 0669-00130. For birds that have only a metal band, the entire number will need to be reported.

All blue bands begin with a letter and have two numbers following it. For example, A75 or M14. You do not have to report the metal band on Blue-Banded Pelicans, only the blue band.

3. Each reported band must be accurate to be considered.

4. Each bird can only be counted once a day.

5. Dead birds can only be counted once.

6. If you’ve spotted a banded pelican, report your sighting to International Bird Rescue’s online database.

Pelican P11, photo by Kristin McCleery

Help from International Bird Rescue

We’ll be sending and posting updates and hints on the best places to sight these birds over the coming weeks, as well as sharing your stories and providing information on birds with repeat sightings. Check out clues from last year’s contest here.

Pelicans with blue bands are currently being seen from Mexico to Washington state, so if you’re anywhere near the West Coast, you could spot them. Several days ago, Pelican K15, the pelican “poster bird” for last year’s contest that was last reported at Pacifica Pier near San Francisco, was recently spotted in Westport, Wash. in Grays Harbor! If you’re spending some time enjoying the coast, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for blue bands!

Photo Contest

Interested in photographing wildlife? Our Blue-Banded Pelican Contest also includes the opportunity to submit your best Blue-Banded Pelican shot with prizes awarded to the top three best photographs as judged by our committee. Last year’s winning photo, taken by Deanna Barth, can be seen on the 2013 poster here in English and Spanish.

The first-place photograph winner will receive a beautiful Alex and Ani pelican bangle, an honorary International Bird Rescue membership and an International Bird Rescue T-shirt. The second- and third-place winners will receive honorary memberships as well as T-shirts.

Good luck!

Download Blue-Banded Pelican Posters:

Pelican Poster: English (PDF 8.7 MB)
Pelican Poster: Spanish (PDF 2.8 MB)


July 26, 2013

What’s it like to volunteer with us? Ask Janelle!

It’s no secret: International Bird Rescue has the best volunteer corps imaginable. Wildlife lovers from all walks of life help us to fulfill the Every Bird Matters mission, from washing dishes and cleaning cages to hands-on work with myriad species of birds in care.

So what’s it like to volunteer? We asked Janelle, a physical therapist and volunteer at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center since 2009. Video by Bill Steinkamp.

Want to get involved? Click here for more information on the next volunteer orientations at our San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles centers. Here, you can also download the volunteer application.

In order to volunteer, you must:

• Be at least 18 years old

• Have a sincere desire to help wildlife

• Commit to at least a four-hour shift a week

• Be dependable, responsible and willing to take direction

See you at the volunteer orientation!



July 25, 2013

See you at the Beaver Festival in Martinez!

Live in the Bay Area? Then save the date! On Saturday, August 3, we’ll be joining more than 40 wildlife groups at the 6th-annual Beaver Festival in Martinez. Stop on by! Click here for more on the event.


July 24, 2013

Released: Leach’s Storm Petrel

Photos by Paul BerryLESP

Last week, this Leach’s Storm Petrel was brought to International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center by a crewmember of a container ship that arrived at the Port of Los Angeles from Alaska. Apparently, the crew found the little bird shaking and unable to move on the floor of the ship, so they scooped it up and put it in a box.

Once the container ship arrived at port, the crewmembers were told about International Bird Rescue, and one of them brought it right over.

Upon intake, the bird was thin and weak, though it was thermo-regulating and appeared to have no other injuries. We placed this petrel in an indoor enclosure, and gave it supplemental tubings and supportive care. Its body condition rapidly improved and the bird was released several days later.


July 23, 2013

Photographers in Focus: Graham McGeorge

Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio). 2013 National Geographic Traveler Contest Merit Winner. All images © Graham McGeorge.


Of the dozens of avian entries in this year’s National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, perhaps the most striking to date is this portrait of an Eastern Screech Owl in glorious camouflage by Graham McGeorge, a self-described “plumber with a passion for photography” from Jacksonville, Fla.

In the off-hours, McGeorge has had some rather stunning editorial success, with his photographs appearing in the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, the Washington Post, BBC Wildlife Magazine and other outlets.

McGeorge’s favorite spots to photograph wildlife are Alaska, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado; his go-to cameras are the Canon EOS-1D Mark III and Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II.

And his advice for the novice photographer: “Ignore the rules. Think outside the box and develop your own style.”

McGeorge sent us some of his favorite avian photos shown below. His wildlife photographic repertoire is quite extensive: Visit his website for more great shots.

Eastern Screech Owlets

Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)



Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna)

Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)

Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis)


If you would like to be considered as a featured wildlife photographer for International Bird Rescue, or would like to recommend a photographer for this regular feature, please e-mail us.

And check out some of our previous featured photographers, including Kim Taylor of Washington, D.C., Yeray Seminario of Spain, Jackie Wollner of Los Angeles and Christopher Taylor of Venice, Calif.

July 20, 2013

Update on the Pelican Aviary Project

First Brown Pelican in the newly renovated Pelican AviaryWe’re pleased to announce that finishing touches are underway for the renovated pelican aviary at the San Francisco Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Thanks to your generous support, we’ve even begun to move a small number of birds into this 100-foot-long aviary — a crucial large space where pelicans and other birds have room to fly before they are considered for release back into the wild.

This spring, 180 donors helped us to raise $16,225 through Indiegogo. Together, with local grants from the Solano County Fish and Wildlife Propagation Fund and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, we were able to afford much-needed repairs to this enclosure.

We are currently planning a community event — an aviary re-dedication, if you will — and will be in touch with the details. We’d love to have you stop by!


July 20, 2013

Thanks for joining us at KNX’s “On Your Corner”!

From left: KNX 1070’s Dick Helton, IBR center manager Julie Skoglund, IBR executive director Jay Holcomb and KNX 1070’s Vicky Moore

We had a huge turn-out in San Pedro yesterday for KNX 1070 Newsradio’s “On Your Corner” series, broadcasted live from our Los Angeles center. Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

Thanks as well to Whole Foods Market Torrance for the wonderful food and to volunteer photographer Bill Steinkamp for snapping photos of the broadcast and tours throughout the day (we’ll upload video of the tours soon as well).

Find out more about the “On Your Corner” series and its sponsors at KNX 1070.








Jay Tour




July 19, 2013

Hawk and owl patients at our SF Bay center

A Western Screech Owl waking up after surgery, photo by Isabel Luevano

Though International Bird Rescue primarily cares for aquatic birds, there are times when other animals that fall outside of our usual spectrum of species need our help — including birds of prey. WSOW

At our San Francisco Bay center, we recently treated two such birds — a Western Screech Owl and a Red-tailed Hawk.

Frequent readers of this blog may remember the last time we featured a Western Screech Owl, one that had flown into insulation foam while workers were insulating an attic.

The owl you see above was found in Marin County with a fractured femur and was brought to our center. Staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr pinned the fractured femur, and the bird has since been transferred to WildCare for further care.

Want to read more on this species? Owl Pages is a great resource.

A groggy owl just beginning to wake up, post-op, photo by Isabel Luevano

Also in care was a Red-tailed Hawk (shown below). RTHA

According to center manager Michelle Bellizzi, apparently this bird landed or fell into a barrel of petroleum coke sludge at a local refinery.

A quick-thinking rescuer fished this female hawk out of the basin by putting a pole into the sludge, which she grabbed onto with her impressive talons.

When it dried, the carbonaceous substance covered the hawk’s head, chest, shoulders, wings, feet and legs.

Below, Bellizzi and rehab technician Suzie Kosina wash the hawk with Dawn. The bird will be banded and sent to Lindsay Wildlife Museum for re-nesting/releasing.

Hawk photos by Diana Becker



Here, the hawk is banded and readied for transport, photos by Michelle Bellizzi.


Update: This hawk was released near Rodeo, Calif. in early August. Release photos below courtesy Wayne Lutz and Marianne Dominguez/Lindsay Wildlife Museum. Nice work!


photo 2
photo 3

July 18, 2013

Rob Lowe, International Bird Rescue on CNN

Rob Lowe, spokesman for the Dawn Saves Wildlife campaign, talks animal rescue and International Bird Rescue’s work with oiled wildlife with CNN New Day’s Kate Boulduan, Chris Cuomo and Michaela Pereira.

Check out the first episode of “The Big Picture” here, starring wildlife rehab technicians Neil Uelman and Kylie Clatterbuck. Enjoy!

Rob Lowe-CNN

July 18, 2013

See you Friday at the KNX-International Bird Rescue open house!

Click on postcard to enlarge.

Attention Angelenos! Just a reminder that International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center, located in San Pedro, will host KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO’s popular “KNX On Your Corner” spotlight tomorrow (Friday, July 19), with two live broadcasts from the center, from 5am-9am and 1pm-7pm.

During the day, we’ll be featuring an open house, with two free, scheduled exclusive tours of the center at 9 am and 2 pm. You can also stop by for a sneak peek at the live broadcast from our center, with free refreshments to boot, courtesy our friends at Whole Foods Market Torrance.

We’re located in Angel’s Gate Cultural Center at 3601 S. Gaffey Blvd. Check out the invite and a map to the center above.

See you on Friday!

Ducklings IMG_6356-LPhoto by Bill Steinkamp 

July 17, 2013

In care this week: Pigeon Guillemot

Photo by Paul Berry


This Pigeon Guillemot arrived at our Los Angeles center last week, having been found by International Bird Rescue rehabilitation technician Neil Uelman while hiking at Christmas Cove in nearby Rancho Palos Verdes. Here’s the backstory from Neil:

I was hiking along the beach and saw a sad-looking juvenile Pigeon Guillemot lying in a very shallow tide pool. The bird was weak and looked very emaciated, so I captured it and brought it to the center, where we performed an intake exam and moved the bird to an indoor, net-bottom enclosure. It was given supplemental heat as well as supplemental tube feedings.

Over the next few days, the bird got stronger and stronger.  It’s gaining weight like a champ and is living outside in one of the pelagic pools.

July 16, 2013

Dawn Saves Wildlife: “The Big Picture”

We’re thrilled to be a part of the Dawn Saves Wildlife campaign, starring our amazing rehabilitation staff and narrated by Rob Lowe.

This year, Dawn’s team spent a few days at International Bird Rescue and The Marine Mammal Center to film “The Big Picture” webisode series, featuring the animals cared for every day by wildlife rehabilitators, the problems they face in urban environments and the little things all of us can do to make their lives better.

This first webisode, “Duck, Duck, Oil,” features wildlife rehabilitation technicians Neil Uelman and Kylie Clatterbuck. Tune in again soon for more webisodes!

Rob will be appearing on several national TV shows on Tuesday, July 16 to promote the campaign — including Good Morning America, which featured a surprise cameo by a pelican! (Note: The bird featured on-air belongs to an animal trainer. Wild pelicans, like the ones we care for in California, typically don’t enjoy being in TV studios! Upon rehabilitation, the birds we care for are released back into the wild.)

How can you get involved? Visit Dawn Saves Wildlife’s new website. There, you can:

• Send a cool thank-you note to wildlife rehabilitators

• Pledge to take simple steps in your life to mitigate environmental impact on animals

• Sign up for reusable bag giveaways

And check back often on Dawn’s Facebook page as well! There’s plenty in store this summer.


July 11, 2013

Bird Blog news round-up, July 11

Photo by Ben Pless via Bay Nature

— The Snowy Plover, a small shorebird listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, has been found to be nesting on Stinson Beach in Northern California’s Marin County for the first time in three decades.

Bay Nature speaks with Lynne Stenzel of Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO), whose team made the discovery of a group of plovers at a single nest:

“Several aspects of this nest were unusual,” Stenzel said. “First, there were five plovers in close proximity while the eggs were being laid; usually pairs are territorial around their nest.  Observers identified three of these birds as females (two wore color bands); the other two were brightly plumaged males. Then, several days after the nest held the usual three eggs, a fourth egg appeared; this is uncommon though not unheard of. And two different plovers, both presumed females, took turns on the eggs for part of the 28-day incubation period. Finally, both males disappeared from the area before the eggs hatched; in snowy plovers, the male usually stays and tends the chicks.” [Bay Nature]

— Small, short-lived birds may have an evolutionary advantage in the face of climate change, according to a new study published in PLOS Biology. [Los Angeles Times]

— As the process for allocating billions of dollars in funds from the Gulf Oil Spill settlement begins, a new economic report on the Gulf states finds that the $19 billion wildlife tourism market depends heavily on pristine habitat for wildlife watching, with birding a primary tourist attraction. [Wildlife Tourism and the Gulf Coast Economy]

— Will you be in the San Pedro area on Friday, July 19? Stop by our center for a live broadcast with KNX 1070 Newsradio! [KNX 1070]

— Some 30,000 American White Pelicans have returned to North Dakota’s Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge to nest. Biologists have been monitoring 599112_381767721921156_1035924943_npelicans at the large refuge since 1905, three years before President Theodore Roosevelt declared the area a bird refuge to protect the animals from feather poachers and target practice. [Fox News]

— Voluntary conservation programs on private property, which accounts for 60% of all land in the U.S., is of significant importance for avian life in America, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior. [Houma Today]

— The New York Times profiles Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder, a veteran in documenting war zones who has turned his lens on imperiled birds. Beautiful, heartrending images. [New York Times]

— NBC News takes a look at what appears to be a growing problem: Urban chicken enthusiasts abandoning their animals at shelters after the novelty wears off and the challenges of raising these birds become evident. “Many areas with legalized hen-keeping are experiencing more and more of these birds coming in when they’re no longer wanted,” said Paul Shapiro, spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States. “You get some chicks and they’re very cute, but it’s not as though you can throw them out in the yard and not care for them.” [NBC News]

— The Napa Valley Patch spreads the word on our new BirdCam Project! [Napa Valley Patch]
Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 11.17.53 AM

July 10, 2013

A Sooty Shearwater soars again

Shearwater IMG_5833-L
Photos by Bill Steinkamp

Upon seeing photos of a recent Sooty Shearwater in care at our Los Angeles center, we found an interesting tidbit on the migratory prowess of this amazing seabird, which rivals the Arctic Tern in distance traveled. Via UC-Santa Cruz Currents:

Every summer, millions of Sooty Shearwaters arrive off the coast of California, their huge flocks astonishing visitors who may have trouble grasping that the dark swirling clouds over the water consist of seabirds.

Scientists have long known that Sooty Shearwaters breed in New Zealand and Chile and migrate to feeding grounds in the Northern Hemisphere. But the details of this remarkable transequatorial migration are only now emerging from a study using electronic tracking tags to follow individual birds.

The flights of Sooty Shearwaters documented in this new study represent the longest animal migration routes ever recorded using electronic tracking technology: around 65,000 kilometers (39,000 miles). Taking advantage of prevailing winds along different parts of the migration route, the birds trace giant figure eights over the Pacific Basin.

The shearwater you see above was grounded at a Santa Barbara park and brought to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, which transferred the animal to us on June 29. Rehabilitation technician and volunteer Neil Uelman reports that the shearwater was found to have a minor wound on its left leg with swelling around it. The bird was started on antibiotics, which brought down the infection. After several days recovering in a pelagic pool, this shearwater was released Tuesday afternoon.

Shearwater IMG_5826-L


Mallard Duckling at SF Bay Center