Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for August 2013

August 29, 2013

90 seconds of bliss: Pelican release in San Pedro

As of Tuesday, our Los Angeles center in the San Pedro neighborhood had 34 Brown Pelicans in care. Many more had been released last week by our team of staff and volunteers, as shown here in this video by volunteer photographer Bill Steinkamp.

Become a member at today and help support the care of these amazing birds — and receive some amazing thank-you gifts with our compliments!

Basic Membership Sustaining Members

Pelican, Brown IMG_8592-L
Photo by Bill Steinkamp


August 27, 2013

Intern spotlight: Diana B. Pereira


We welcome people from all countries to come and learn at one of our rehabilitation programs. Click here for information on our International Internship Program.

August 27, 2013

International Bird Rescue and “The Big Picture”

Check out the latest episode of Dawn Saves Wildlife’s “The Big Picture” documentary series featuring International Bird Rescue’s wildlife team!

For more episodes from this project, visit dawnsaveswildlife.com.

August 26, 2013

Fish hook removal for a return gull patient

Photo by Isabel Luevano

This Western Gull was transferred to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center from Peninsula Humane Society having swallowed two large hooks. Last week, staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr removed one hook through the esophagus at the shoulder and the other by cutting into the bird’s ventriculus through the abdomen.

X-ray showing hooks (left); hooks after removal, photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr

As you can see in the photo above, this gull already sported a silver federal band on its leg upon intake — and it also had a healed surgical incision from a toe amputation. Upon review, Dr. Duerr discovered that the gull had come into the center a year ago for a severely infected right foot digit #4 (the outer toe) that she had removed, as well as an infected tendon from the adjacent toe. This bird was in care for a long time with other numerous problems, but was ultimately released at Ft. Baker. Duerr reports that the gull is doing well following its hook removal surgery.

More coverage on fish hook injuries:

A Double-crested Cormorant with fish hook injuries (June 13, 2013)

Rescuing injured wildlife (a KQED Quest report on birds cared for at International Bird Rescue; March 15, 2013)

Pelican with fish hook injuries (March 7, 2013)

Western Grebe with fish hook injuries (December 12, 2012)

Sign up for this year’s Coastal Clean-Up Day on September 21 and make a difference. For California, visit the California Coastal Commission’s webpage. For other locations, check out the Ocean Conservancy’s clean-up day map.

August 26, 2013

Bird Rescue partner shout-out: Nestle and Soar (and how this pillow could be yours when you become a member)

Nestle & Soar-Tattoo Sparrow Pillow

untitled-44International Bird Rescue is fortunate to have some truly amazing small business sponsors. For this week’s shout-out, we highlight the work of Nestle and Soar, a fiber art studio founded by embroiderer and fiber artist Georgianne Holland just outside of Boulder, Colo. Nestle and Soar has donated a Tattoo Swallow Fiber Art Pillow for our membership drive. Become an International Bird Rescue member today and you could win!

Here’s Holland’s story:


Georgianne Holland

I began my adventure in the needle arts in the 1970s as a member of the Leman family, and my mom, Bonnie Leman, was an important figure in that resurgence of quiltmaking and the developing quilting industry. I am very proud of my family’s legacy. As the founding publishers of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine, Quiltmaker Magazine, and the Quilts & Other Comforts catalog of books and supplies, my family witnessed the transformation over 30 years of thousands of independent creatives, who were mostly women, and the remarkable efforts they displayed in developing their artistic gifts.

In this creative and entrepreneurial environment, I learned to love textile arts and success stories of small-business savvy. I want to salute all the women who were faced with the stereotype in the late 1960s of, “The needle arts are not art, they are a woman’s domestic duty,” and turned those artistic skills into thriving careers and a significant contribution to the world of both art and fine craft! I am proud to be part of this transformation and this community.

The most recent textile adventure I have enjoyed began six years ago when I opened my current fiber art studio near Boulder, Colorado. I named my studio “Nestle and Soar” because I am a lifetime romantic about the majesty of trees and the colorful, glittering and whimsical presence of birds. As a mom, I completely relate to the term “nestle” as it pertains to gently holding my loved ones close to my heart. I love watching bird families make nests as I provide for our backyard birds! Many of my textile arts are created in the style of John J. Audubon, whose bird illustrations continue to be an inspiration to me, and dare I say it, make my heart soar.

As a businesswoman, I have always used a portion of my profits to support the Arbor Day Foundation, and am pleased to arrange for a tree to be planted in honor of my clients. I’m sure you realize that the trees that are planted in this manner are tiny — just little whispers of tree-goodness —but that is kind of the point! Each of us has the opportunity every single day to make a small yet heartfelt contribution to the health and well-being of our planet and of one another.

Operating my own design studio, workshop and online boutique, I am able to make small yet mighty daily contributions. I thank all of you for the support you give me through your interest in my textile arts!

I look forward to hearing from you! If you have any questions about the hand needle felting, embroidery or elegant home decor items made here at Nestle and Soar studio, I invite you to send me a message. I am happy to answer as well as happy to learn about your favorite bird or tree so that I can help you enliven your home with the simple, elegant textiles that are handmade in Colorado here at Nestle and Soar.


Basic Membership Sustaining Members

August 21, 2013

Are you a member of International Bird Rescue? Join us!


Whether it’s a heron chick that has fallen from a high nest or a pelican targeted by human cruelty, every bird cared for at International Bird Rescue matters — and every bird has a story. Today, we’re launching a membership drive so that you can participate in helping to carry this message to the world.

When you become a member of International Bird Rescue starting at just $25, you become a part of our team that works to save wildlife in need every day.

We’re pleased to announce that an anonymous member of International Bird Rescue has just offered a $10,000 matching gift for new members. Every donation from now until the end of September will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000.

We have two membership types with accompanying gifts:CBD_Pelican_facebook_82013

Basic Membership: A one-time annual membership gift of $25 or more. Members at this level will receive an International Bird Rescue member window cling (hot off the presses!) and a wild bird photo print by photographer Dave Furseth.

Sustaining Membership: Starting at just $10 a month, sustaining members will receive an Alex & Ani pelican bracelet, a window cling and a complimentary, personalized sponsorship of our BirdCam Project.

Whether you sign up for basic or sustaining membership, you’ll also be entered to win one of several sweepstakes gifts, including:

Umbra bird feeders Perks2

• Alex and Ani pelican bangles

• A custom swallow fiber art pillow by Nestle & Soar

• A one-month unlimited membership to Corepower Yoga (locations in California, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon and Minnesota)

• A delightful seabird watercolor print by artist David Scheirer of Studio Tuesday

And more to be announced! Anyone who has given to International Bird Rescue in 2013 is eligible to win.

How else are we saying thanks? We’ll also list your name in our 2013 annual report as an official International Bird Rescue member. And on a quarterly basis, you’ll receive our online newsletter, featuring International Bird Rescue’s recent work in the world, compelling stories of birds in our care, contest giveaways and some of our favorite bird photography.

Join us and spread the word! And thank you for your generous support. 

Basic Membership   Sustaining Members

August 19, 2013

Tips on the Banded Pelican Sighting Contest

A67 - Alps
Photo of Pelican A67 by Bernardo Alps

If you’re participating in this year’s Banded Pelican Sighting Contest along the west coast, here are some sighting clues that could bring you one step closer to winning a spotting scope from our friends at Eagle Optics

It looks like a good year for Brown Pelicans along the coastline of the western U.S. Thousands are being seen feeding on schooling fish such as sardines and anchovies. Many of these are first-year birds just learning how to feed. Our Blue-Banded Pelicans that were rehabilitated at our centers in California also are among these flocks of birds.

Clues on where to find Blue-Banded Pelicans:

• Look on breakwaters or anywhere pelicans roost in harbors. Also, check out fish-processing areas.

Pelican C13, photo by Bill Steinkamp

Pelican C13, photo by Bill Steinkamp

• Many Blue-Banded Pelicans are being seen in Washington state and Oregon at several locations, including the town of Westport, where they hang out on the breakwaters, or in Astoria on the breakwater.

• On the central California coast, we have received many reports from Dinosaur Rocks at Pismo Beach where pelicans hang out.

• Another California tip: Monterey harbor and Pillar Point Marina in Half Moon Bay are ideal locations for pelicans to roost and feed. These make for excellent Blue-Banded Pelican spotting sights.

Good luck!

August 16, 2013

News round-up, August 16

Trash Slick
Photo by Zak Noyle

• Surf’s up … and so might be your lunch, after viewing what may be one of the most depressingly iconic photos so far this year.

Photographer Zak Noyle shot this image of Indonesian surfer Dede Surinaya in a once pristine bay located on the island of Java, home to 138 million people. “It was crazy. I kept seeing noodle packets floating next to me,” Noyle told GrindTV. “It was very disgusting to be in there; I kept thinking I would see a dead body of some sort for sure.”

HuffPo’s Gabriela Aoun reports that many population centers in the country lack adequate trash collection infrastructure, causing high rates of marine debris. [Huffington Post]

• Scientists at the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary have fitted 10 Great Shearwaters with tiny satellite tags to better study feeding and foraging behavior of the species in the Gulf of Maine. In recent years, forage fish critical for seabirds and marine mammals have declined in the area. [Phys.org]

• The CBC has more info on a bizarre incident in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where dozens of blackbirds fell from the sky last week. [CBC]

• The U.S. Forest Service maintains that old-growth trees removed in April at an Oregon campground were a threat to campers, even though the area is critical USFWS-Wikimedia-Commonshabitat for the threatened Marbled Murrelet.

A member of the Auk family that calls the North Pacific its home, Marbled Murrelets nest high in old-growth forests  — a quirk that wasn’t even discovered until 1974. Loss of nesting habitat isn’t the only problem for this bird: The murrelet’s eggs also face predation by the aggressive and abundant Steller’s Jay. [Oregon Public Broadcasting]

• Reporting from Bakersfield, Calif., the Oiled Wildlife Care Network discusses the importance of wildlife response for inland spills. [OWCN Blog]

• NBC News travels to Seal Island off the coast of Maine to look at restoring puffin populations. [NBC]

• Long-line fishing fleets based in the Pacific are killing albatrosses, fulmars and other seabirds at record rates, according to documents obtained via FOIA request by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The organization is calling for greater mitigation efforts by federal authorities.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration statistics for Hawaii-based fleets show a five- to ten-fold increase in seabird by-catch, according to the PEER news release.

“In-depth analysis suggests that the true extent of seabird harvests is significantly and systematically underestimated,” said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Rising seabird by-catch may be yet another symptom of the intensified competition for food on increasingly exploited oceans.”

Many of the species affected, Ruch noted, are threatened, including Black-footed, Laysan and Short-tailed Albatrosses. [Common Dreams]

• The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the U.K. releases this sobering infographic on declining seabird populations in Scotland. A recently proposed plan to create new protected marine areas along the Scottish coast has drawn criticism from seabird conservationists, who say the proposal doesn’t go far enough to protect species such as kittiwakes and razorbills. [RSPB]


Download the full-size version of this infographic here.

August 15, 2013

Release! Raised at center, orphaned gulls find new ocean home

Photos and video by Bill Steinkamp

As we’ve detailed earlier this summer, International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center had received dozens of orphaned gull chicks into care from fellow wildlife organizations. WEGuIn the slideshow above, you can see many of these birds growing up at the center — leading up to their release in San Pedro on Tuesday, where they joined a plethora of pelicans, cormorants and fellow gulls out on the water.

Thanks, team!

Related coverage from this summer:

Glue traps, vegetable oil and other hazards affecting Western Gulls

Surrogate parents at our Los Angeles center

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


August 13, 2013

Update on oiled Great Blue Heron

Photo by Paul Berry

Note: This bird is eligible for a symbolic adoption. If you’re a heron lover, please click here to find out how you can help this animal’s care.

The Great Blue Heron we received after it became oiled at a refinery a month ago is still in care recovering from its substantial skin injuries. The product this bird was contaminated with burned the bird’s skin over about 25% of its body, including large areas of its torso. Below, the heron undergoes a wash.

Photo by Paul Berry

Two weeks ago, our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, surgically repaired the bird’s most severe injury where the skin along its spine was GHBEdead and adhered to the spine itself. This past week, Dr. Duerr again anesthetized the bird for wound evaluation. She found the back wound has healed completely, and much of the other skin damage has healed well.

However, four large areas of damage remain: one on each shoulder, one on the right thigh and one exposing the entire keel (sternum). The shoulder wounds are healing well with topical treatment, but the keel wound required surgical closure and the thigh wound required surgical debridement to remove dead muscle tissue.

The missing area of skin at the thigh spanned too large an area to merely close with sutures and required placement of a skin graft.

Surgery photos by Dr. Rebecca Duerr


This heron’s skin remains in such a delicate state that it was difficult to find a location with healthy enough skin from which to collect the graft. But skin was collected from the bird’s neck and placed to cover the defect on the thigh (see photo above).

Great Blue Herons are notoriously difficult to manage in captivity due to being simultaneously stressy and fragile birds likely to injure themselves in any captive housing. We are keeping the patient comfortable on pain medication, and this is helping keep him calm while his skin heals. The bird is doing a great job healing and continues to cooperate by maintaining a good appetite. This bird’s prognosis remains very guarded, but we remain hopeful he will make a full recovery.

Photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr

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August 9, 2013

News round-up, August 9

Click on any of the placemarks above for a news story 

• In a joint op-ed, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy take a look at the declining acreage of grassland conservation in the farm bill’s Conservation Reserve Program — an initiative that historically has contributed to a 30% increase in waterfowl breeding in the Prairie Pothole Region of the upper Midwest, as well as improved Sage Grouse numbers out west. Failure to pass a farm bill this year would halt new enrollments into the CRP program, the authors write. [Washington Post]

• At Ocean Beach in San Francisco, a seabird feeding frenzy. [Ocean Beach Bulletin; Photo: Tom Prete/Ocean Beach Bulletin] 1-IMAG2669

• One of our favorite articles of the summer: A remarkable and extensive look at the wonders of bird vision by ornithologist Tim Birkhead. Bonus points on the great murre story lede: Birkhead visits a murre colony at Skomer Island in South Wales. [Audubon Magazine]

• Wildlife groups are investigating why dozens of blackbirds fell to the ground in Winnipeg on Wednesday. [UPI]

• Mutual Publishing releases a new pocket guide to the birds of Hawaii. [Hawaii247.com]

• Power lines and poisoning (both intentional and unintentional) have decimated the Wattled Crane population in South Africa, where an estimated240px-Wattled_Crane_1400 80 breeding pairs remain. Earlier this year, the South African government designated the Umgeni Vlei Nature Reserve with special protected status to aid conservation efforts for the cranes, which can grow taller than five feet. [All Africa; photo via Wikipedia]

• Bird hunters are “emptying the Afghan skies,” BBC reports, with such critically endangered species as the Siberian Crane in the crosshairs. “With the Afghan economy in tatters, hunting and trading in birds offers a welcome source of income for many struggling Afghans,” Bilal Sarwary writes. “Markets selling birds of all shapes and sizes – dead or alive – are fairly common in remote areas like Syed Khel and Kohistan. ‘This is how I make a living,’ says one hunter in a bird bazaar in Kohistan, pointing to a sack full of dead sparrows. ‘There is no work here. What else can I do?’” [BBC News]

• In case you missed it: A Horned Puffin in care at International Bird Rescue. [Walnut Creek Patch]

• The New York Times takes a look at a wave of manatee, dolphin and pelican deaths in estuary waters on the Florida coast — and whether explosive coastal development in the state over the past several decades may be to blame.

About 280 manatees have died in the past year, as have hundreds of pelicans:

“We may have reached a tipping point,” said Troy Rice, who directs the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, a federal, state and local government partnership at the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Mr. Rice’s fear, widely shared, is that an ecosystem that supports more than 4,300 species of wildlife — and commercial fisheries, tourism and other businesses generating nearly $4 billion annually — is buckling under the strain of decades of pollution generated by coastal Florida’s explosive development. [NYT]

August 7, 2013

In care this week: Horned Puffin

DSC_0137-L Horned-Puffin
Photos by Isabel Luevano

This week, our San Francisco Bay center is caring for 137 birds at latest count, including this Horned Puffin. Rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano reports the bird was transported nearly 200 miles to our center from Ft. Bragg in Mendocino County, where it was found emaciated with a foot injury. We’ll keep you updated on its condition via the blog.

Here’s the current breakdown of birds in care at the San Francisco Bay center, courtesy volunteer coordinator Cheryl Reynolds:

27 Western Gull chicks
19 Mallard ducklings
17 Snowy Egrets (juveniles)
12 Green Herons (juveniles)
11 Cattle Egrets (juveniles)
10 Black-crowned Night Herons (juveniles)
6 Wood ducklings
6 Brown Pelicans
5 Mallard Ducks
4 Hybrid ducklings
4 Great Egrets (juveniles)
3 Canada Geese
2 Western Gulls
2 Pied-billed Grebes (juveniles)
2 Killdeer (juveniles)
2 Hybrid Ducks
1 Pelagic Cormorant
1 Northern Fulmar
1 Horned Puffin
1 Brandt’s Cormorant
1 American Coot


August 7, 2013

Patient of the Week: Horned Puffin

This week, International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center in Fairfield is caring for 137 birds at latest count, including this Horned Puffin. Rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano reports the bird was transported nearly 200 miles to our center from County, where it was found emaciated with a foot injury. We’ll keep you updated on its condition via this blog (photos by Isabel Luevano).

It’s uncommon for the center to receive a puffin, though in the Ft. Bragg area puffin sightings are by no means unheard of. A quick Google search of the matter found sighting info on Horned Puffins as well as Laysan Albatrosses and other amazing birds near Ft. Bragg via Debi Shearwater’s Shearwater Journeys.

Here’s the current breakdown of birds in care at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center, courtesy volunteer coordinator Cheryl Reynolds:

27 Western Gull chicks
19 Mallard ducklings
17 Snowy Egrets (juveniles)
12 Green Herons (juveniles)
11 Cattle Egrets (juveniles)
10 Black-crowned Night Herons (juveniles)
6 Wood ducklings
6 Brown Pelicans
5 Mallard Ducks
4 Hybrid ducklings
4 Great Egrets (juveniles)
3 Canada Geese
2 Western Gulls
2 Pied-billed Grebes (juveniles)
2 Killdeer (juveniles)
2 Hybrid Ducks
1 Pelagic Cormorant
1 Northern Fulmar
1 Horned Puffin
1 Brandt’s Cormorant
1 American Coot

August 6, 2013

Behind the scenes with a Brown Pelican in Dawn’s “The Big Picture”

The latest episode in Dawn Saves Wildlife’s “The Big Picture,” shown above, features several Brown Pelicans filmed at our Los Angeles wildlife care center in May, including Pelican V01, which arrived at International Bird Rescue facing a common predicament: fish oil contamination.

Fish oil contamination occurs when pelicans attempt to retrieve scraps at commercial and public fish-processing sites along the coast. As a result, these animals can easily become covered in oily fish waste, losing their natural waterproofing ability in the process. This can result in hypothermia and death.

Pelican V01 with fish oil contamination (left) and after undergoing a wash

If an oiled pelican can still fly but is unable to feed in cold water, the bird may become a dumpster diver and beggar in order to secure a meal. That’s what we assumed happened to Pelican V01. It was surviving by feeding on scraps and trash in the dumpsters of San Pedro, Calif.

Bernardo Alps, who won last year’s Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest, spotted this pelican and noticed it was very dirty and displaying abnormal behavior. Upon capture, the bird was found to be covered with fish oil and oily waste, which we successfully removed in the wash process using Dawn.

We had seen this bird before, but for other human-caused reasons. In 2006, the pelican was treated at our Los Angeles center for injuries sustained from fishing line entanglement. Seven years later, we fitted this pelican with a blue band (you guessed it: #V01) to better track its post-rehabilitation travels.


Below, we filmed the pelican’s release at Cabrillo Beach Park near our center.

The educational message from this episode of “The Big Picture” is as timeless as it is important: Please don’t feed wildlife.

Though pelicans were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2009, one of our most beloved seabirds continues to face myriad human-caused problems every day. Check out some of these issues in graphic designer Franzi Müller’s Protect Our Pelicans infographic below (click on the image for a printable download). And find out how you can enter our second-annual Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest now underway. You could win an Eagle Optics scope!

Infographic designed by Franzi Müller (click on the image for full-size)

August 2, 2013

In care this week: Gadwall

Gadwall IMG_7757-L
Photos by Bill Steinkamp

GadwallGadwalls are medium-sized ducks that have seen a resurgence in their numbers in recent years, thanks in part to the Conservation Reserve Program and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s North American Waterfowl Management Plan, All About Birds notes.

Their diet consists mainly of aquatic vegetation, including pondweed, wigeon grass and water milfoil (Gadwalls also eat aquatic invertebrates).

This female Gadwall was found in Santa Monica, Calif. with multiple lacerations — likely from a predator — and was transported to our Los Angeles center on July 24 from California Wildlife Center (CWC). Surgery was required to close up remaining lacerations, which are now healing.

At last count, here’s the current breakdown of birds in our care at the Los Angeles center:

72 Western Gulls
32 Brown Pelicans
22 Black-crowned Night Herons
20 Mallard Ducks
6 Snowy Egrets
3 Brandt’s Cormorants
1 Heermann’s Gull
1 Great Blue Heron
1 Green Heron
1 Pigeon Guillemot
1 Gadwall

Gadwall IMG_7995-L