Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for July 2013

July 8, 2013

Your 60-second baby bird fix: Puppet-feeding gull chicks

Video taken at our San Francisco Bay center. Many thanks to our intern and volunteer team for painting the gull puppet for feeding time!

Newly hatched Western Gull 7/6/13 with yesterdays sibling at SF Bay Center
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

July 8, 2013

We’re hosting “KNX On Your Corner” in San Pedro on Fri, July 19 — and you’re invited!

*Download the full-size version of this invite here.

Have you ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look at the world of bird rehabilitation? Here’s your golden opportunity to do so!

On Friday, July 19, International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center, located in the San Pedro neighborhood, will host KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO’s popular “KNX On Your Corner” spotlight, 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 refreshments to boot, courtesy our friends at Whole Foods Torrance.

See you on July 19th! Here are the official details via KNX, as well as a local map with directions to the center:


“KNX On Your Corner” to Spotlight

San Pedro and Palos Verdes Peninsula

Station Will Broadcast Live from International Bird Rescue on July 19

(Los Angeles, July 8, 2013  #onyourcorner) KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO’s award-winning series profiling local communities, “KNX On Your Corner, will take an in-depth look at San Pedro and the Palos Verdes Peninsula on Friday, July 19 from 5am – 7pm.

KNX 1070 will focus on key issues and happenings in San Pedro and the Port of Los Angeles, along with the peninsula communities of Palos Verdes, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates.  Civic leaders and other guests will be featured during the special broadcast to give Southern Californians insight into the unique attributes, history and future development in the area.

The public is invited to join in the day’s activities when KNX brings its operations to San Pedro for a live broadcast and open house at the International Bird Rescue located at 3601 S. Gaffey Street.  The center rescues and cares for thousands of injured birds annually and will offer rare tours of the facility at 9am and 2pm.  Free refreshments will be provided throughout the day.

Dick Helton and Vicky Moore will anchor the news from 5:00 – 9:00am, Frank Mottek will host the KNX Business Hour from 1:00 – 2:00pm and Jim Thornton and Diane Thompson will anchor the news from 2:00 – 7:00pm.

Stories and photographs from “KNX On Your Corner” events are posted online at www.cbsLA.com/onyourcorner.  The series is presented by Community Bank.

“KNX On Your Corner” was honored in January by the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California with a Golden Mike Award in the category of Best Feature News.

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Photo by Bill Steinkamp


July 7, 2013

Weekend snapshots: Gull chick feedings at the San Francisco Bay center

Feeding hatchling Western Gull with puppet at SF Bay Center 7/6/13
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

New arrivals at our San Francisco Bay center: these gull chicks, shown above at feeding time via puppet feeder. The feather duster shown below acts as a surrogate parent.

Photo by Michelle Bellizzi

Newly hatched Western Gull 7/5/13 at SF Bay Center
Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Feeding hatchling Western Gull with puppet at SF Bay Center 7/6/13

Feeding hatchling Western Gull with puppet at SF Bay Center 7/6/13

July 6, 2013

Weekend snapshot: Green Heron

Photo by Michelle Bellizzi

A Green Heron from International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center, released on the Fourth of July!

July 4, 2013

Duckling Independence Day!


A very Happy Fourth of July to all our bird blog readers!

As you get ready for BBQs and fireworks displays today, we wanted to share a heartwarming story from our Los Angeles wildlife care center team:

Photo by Jennifer Gummerman

This mother duck arrived on Monday at our L.A. center with her 10 baby ducklings. Earlier, they had been found in a residential area, where one of the ducklings had fallen into a storm drain. Thanks to an animal control officer, the duckling was saved, and the animals were transferred out of this urban area and to our center. Mama duck had very minor wounds to her wrists and her babies were all in good condition, volunteer coordinator and wildlife rehabilitation technician Neil Uelman says. She was placed in this enclosure with her babies to await release.

But there’s another wrinkle to this story: As you can see in the photo above, this duck has a metal federal band. And it was our band! Uelman reports:

The mallard mom was brought to us back on June 2, 2012 for being stuck in an apartment complex with her seven baby ducklings. It was also the same animal control officer that caught her up and brought the duck in with her ducklings that time. I was actually the one to receive this bird at the clinic and to do the intake on the bird that day. She as well as her baby ducklings were all in good condition. We kept her for two days, and then I did the release of her at a nice spot in El Dorado Nature Center.

In the video below, mama duck with this season’s clutch are released at Madrona Marsh Preserve in Torrance. Madrona is the last remaining vernal marsh in Los Angeles County.

Mallard Duckling at SF Bay Center

July 4, 2013

A tangled tragedy: gillnets and seabirds

Photo by Markus Vetemaa

Editor’s note: Recently, a news headline on gillnets and their devastating impact on seabirds duly caught our attention. In a sobering review, scientists concluded that hundreds of thousands of birds are killed every year by these nets, some of which are banned in international waters but common elsewhere in coastal fisheries.

We reached out to Rory Crawford, senior policy officer of BirdLife International Global Seabird Programme, who wrote this guest post on a fishing practice that kills indiscriminately; affected species include the threatened Steller’s Eider (shown above) and the endangered Marbled Murrelet, now at the center of a fight over habitat preservation in West Coast old-growth forests where the small seabird nests.


rcLast month, the first ever global review of seabird bycatch in gillnets was published in the journal Biological Conservation. This study, authored by marine biologist Ramunas Žydelis and BirdLife scientists, estimates that a staggering 400,000 birds are killed each year through entanglement with gillnets, exceeding the estimated toll of bird deaths documented in longline fisheries.

Historically, gillnets were made from organic materials like hemp, but in the 1960s, nets made from fine, man-made nylon became popular among fishermen. These nets were more durable, easier to handle and allowed fishermen to catch more fish — in large part because they were virtually invisible underwater, making them almost undetectable by the fish they were targeting.

Not surprisingly, however, these nets are also near-undetectable for diving seabirds, as well as dolphins, whales, seals and turtles. Huge bycatch of all these groups of species in large scale high seas driftnets (a type of gillnet) in the 1980s resulted in a 1992 UN ban on their use in international waters. However, gillnets are still largely legal for use all over the world, predominantly in small scale coastal fisheries, targeting a whole host of fish species.

The global review of gillnet bycatch assessed 148 seabird species as susceptible; 81 of these have actually been recorded caught in fishing nets, including the threatened Humboldt Penguin and Steller’s Eider (pictured), the endangered Marbled Murrelet, and more widespread species like the Common Murre.

Bycatch levels of seabirds were found to be highest in the Northwest Pacific Ocean, Nordic regions and the Baltic Sea, where estimated bycatch levels were 140,000, over 100,000 and 76,000 respectively. The review is far-reaching but data gaps remain in places where bycatch is suspected, including the South Atlantic, Mediterranean and Southeast Pacific, as well as Japanese and Korean waters. For this reason, the estimate of 400,000 birds killed per year should be viewed as a minimum estimate.

These are truly astounding numbers that make the case for urgent action crystal clear — particularly in light of the fact that seabirds are more threatened than any other comparable group of birds, and that their conservation status has deteriorated faster in recent years.

But what action can be taken? While there is a suite of well-studied and established best practice mitigation measures to reduce seabird bycatch in longline fisheries, very little research has been undertaken to identify similar solutions to this problem in gillnet fisheries. Here at BirdLife, we are looking to remedy this situation through our tried-and-tested approach of collaborating with fishermen to come up with novel solutions to bycatch.

By working through our Albatross Task Force teams in southern Africa and South America, we’ve been able to achieve some amazing reductions in albatross bycatch in longline and trawl fisheries. These teams work alongside fishermen – sometimes on fishing trips of over a month in length – to demonstrate bycatch mitigation techniques and encourage fishermen to use them. This year, through the Albatross Task Force in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, and funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we are engaging with small-scale fishermen to identify bycatch hot-spots and undertake pilot studies testing mitigation measures.

This is a fantastic start, but we need much more research to start pulling in the results that will allow us to better define the scale of the problem and establish best practice mitigation that can be applied across the world.

Rory Crawford is senior policy officer with BirdLife International Global Seabird Programme.

July 2, 2013

A kaleidoscopic coot chick

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Photos by Bill Steinkamp


Photo by Diane Carter

As one of our Facebook fans recently put it, “You wouldn’t think such a plain adult would come from such a psychedelic chick.”

While American Coot adults have gray/black bodies and white bills, their chicks by contrast have a rebellious streak, including this bird in care at our Los Angeles center.

According to a 1994 study published in Nature, the more colorful the plumage, the better chance for survival in this species. “[P]arent coots feed ornamented chicks preferentially over non-ornamented chicks, resulting in higher growth rates and greater survival for ornamented chicks,” researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of Calgary wrote. “Moreover, we show that parental preference is relative, rather than absolute, an important element in the evolution of exaggerated traits.”

A member of the Rallidae family that includes crakes and gallinules, coots are year-round residents in local freshwater wetlands.

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This coot came to us via California Wildlife Center last Friday, and is now self-feeding, having gained 12 grams in the past few days, rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports. What’s on the menu for this bird? Mealworms, as you can see here, along with other types of food including cut-up smelt and bloodworms.

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