Every Bird Matters
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Archive for October 2013

October 31, 2013

Staff Spotlight: Dr. Rebecca Duerr, DVM MPVM — and now PhD

rebecca-duerr Caspian Terns with multiple fractures, Brown Pelicans with horrendous sea lion bite injuries, an oiled Great Blue Heron suffering from resulting burns on one-quarter of its body — these are just some of the avian patients over the past year in the care of Dr. Rebecca Duerr, our staff veterinarian.

In June, we were thrilled to congratulate Dr. Duerr for completing her PhD studies and contributing invaluable research to the complex field of oiled wildlife care. For her dissertation, she focused on assessment of nutritional depletion in birds affected by petroleum. Oiled birds endure extreme stress during the wash process, and as Dr. Duerr’s research has showed, most of these animals arrive at wildlife facilities in an extremely debilitated state, requiring much-needed nutrition, hydration and medical care prior to the procedure. When there are hundreds of birds in care during oil spill emergencies, what a response team feeds these compromised animals can be a life-or-death decision.

Dr. Duerr recently gave us the backstory on her dissertation, how she got involved with wildlife and her favorite part of the job as an avian vet. For those of you who are mulling a radical career change, read on! Her story may provide you with a little motivation to do so.

How did you get your start in wildlife rehabilitation? 

Dr. Duerr: My husband and I started volunteering at The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) in Sausalito in 1988 and WildCare in San Rafael, CA in the mid 1990’s while working as jewelers. Pretty much all of our free time was taken up by working with wild animals in one capacity or another. But then we had the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and work as artisans making science fiction movie and TV hand props. What could be cooler than working in Hollywood, right? Off we went.

Among many other projects, we made communicator badges and phaser rifles for Star Trek 8 and Deep Space Nine, made the cigarette gag props from the end of the first Austin Powers movie, and I sculpted several original props for the movie Spawn, but we both really missed working with animals. We finally decided to go back to school and pursue being veterinarians while on the set of Starship Troopers for two weeks, dressing extras in the armor our company had built. I was bored out of my mind and ended up doing a math review book in the wardrobe trailer. We both enrolled at San Francisco State University and completed BS’s in Marine Biology on the way to applying for veterinary school.

A Caspian Tern with multiple fractures, photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr. Inset photo: Orthopedic surgery on the tern’s left leg.

I didn’t truly come to appreciate the incredible amazingness of birds until I landed my first paying job at a wildlife center at Wildlife Rescue Inc. (WRI) in Palo Alto, after returning to the Bay Area for school. Four main things struck me while working there:

1) Bird species are amazingly diverse and completely fascinating! I decided I wanted to specifically become a wild bird vet.

2) Wildlife rehabilitation as a field is enormously larger than the marine mammal world — hundreds of thousands of animals go through the hands of wildlife rehabilitators every year in the US, and most are birds.

3) Raptors are wonderful animals but seemed to already get special attention from veterinarians — rehabilitators were often on their own in helping birds of other species.

4) There were very few published resources that explored or explained best practices for doing what wildlife rehabilitators do every day.

Treating burn injuries on a Great Blue Heron, photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr

I regretfully left WRI when Dr. Frances Gulland asked me to work for her at TMMC. Her approach of studying the medical problems of rehabilitated marine mammals as a window into what is occurring in each species in the wild and the ocean as a whole, strongly caught my interest and forms the basis of many of my goals for my current work at IBR. I also became involved in wildlife medicine publishing while working at TMMC, and had the opportunity to act as an editorial assistant for the massive textbook Marine Mammal Medicine. I later wrote the seal chapter in a book called Hand-Rearing Wild and Domestic Mammals, for which I also co-wrote the pig chapter and helped edit several others for the editor, Dr. Laurie Gage.

I thought there really needed to be a similar book for birds, and during the tail end of veterinary school I co-edited a book called Hand-Rearing Birds (2007) with Dr. Gage. I wrote four chapters and edited 22—handling the rehabilitation-oriented species while Dr. Gage managed the zoo-oriented chapters. Several International Bird Rescue staff members contributed material to the book, a 400+ page hardcover used as a staple reference text at many zoos and wildlife centers. Dr. Gage and I have also co-written chapters on the care of wild animal orphans for the 10th and upcoming 11th editions of The Merck Veterinary Manual.

What was the focus of your PhD research?

My dissertation is titled “Investigation into the Nutritional Condition and Digestive Capabilities of Seabirds during Rehabilitation in California”. My work focused on identifying the extent of the starved condition of seabirds that enter rehabilitation and the energetic requirements of these animals. I evaluated the validity of various subjective and objective methods of body condition assessment against a gold standard. I also performed the first dietary trial in real oiled birds to explore what we should be feeding these animals when they come into care. The point of studying all this was to guide our delivery of appropriate supportive care when we are presented with hundreds of birds simultaneously. One major finding of my work was that birds that become oiled in the cold ocean off California are not merely dirty but otherwise-healthy birds that need washing. The average bird enters care in extremely poor condition. These birds are essentially on the verge of death from nutritional depletion, on top of having to cope with other nasty effects of oil like skin burns and corneal ulcers.

An oiled Common Murre undergoes a wash at IBR’s Los Angeles center, January 2013. Photo by Bill Steinkamp

Another finding was that oiled Common Murres did better when fed lower fat diets, which is counter-intuitive. One would expect a starving animal to need as high a calorie diet as possible (e.g. higher fat content), but historical efforts to feed oiled birds high fat diets to get more calories in them may have been counter-productive. Four papers from my dissertation are currently at various stages of readiness for publishing. My master’s thesis was also on oiled bird care, and a paper from it should also be published within the next year. Sorry to say all five will be a bit dry for a general audience!

How long did it take to complete the DVM MPVM PhD trifecta?

Feels like a lifetime! 11 years total (4, 2, and 5, respectively).

Where are you from?

I grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota, literally just about as far from the ocean as one can get! My dad taught biology at University of North Dakota when I was a kid.

What’s the best part about your job?

The best part for me is the excellent pairing of clinical medicine with endless opportunities for research on how to better surmount the particular problems of oiled and non-oiled aquatic birds. I also really enjoy avian orthopedics and repairing fractured wild birds, and seeing the amazing feats of healing Brown Pelicans are capable of!

photo2  photo31
Left: Brown Pelican with a large and deep open wound located in the triangular area between the eye, ear and TMJ resulting from a piece of fishing tackle; Right: the pelican about a month after treatment. Photos by Dr. Rebecca Duerr

October 25, 2013

In the news, October 25


• There are more seats on a typical 747 jumbo jet than there are California Condors living today: 205 are in a captive breeding program, while 231 have been introduced into the wild through the California Condor Recovery Plan. Being the avian webcam fans that we are (check out ours here), we were excited to see a new live look this week at condors in the wild through a project launched by the Ventana Wildlife Society in a remote area of Big Sur. Via San Jose Mercury News:

Several times a week, biologists who work at the organization put out stillborn calves on the site, a 240-acre property surrounded by wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest of Monterey County. Several condors were seen Monday morning on the live camera eating and preening.

Biologists from the group will zoom in on the birds at key times, such as in the morning when they are most active, Sorenson said. They also plan to ask the public to send notifications on the Ventana Wildlife Society’s Facebook and Twitter feeds when birds are doing something interesting. [Mercury News]

• Breeding Tufted Puffins and Black Oystercatchers are among the success stories on Alaska’s Hawadax Island, once dubbed “Rat Island” for obvious reasons and the focus of a rodent eradication program spearheaded by Island Conservation, The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [Associated Press]

• Via Wildlife Emergency Services, a wonderful story of teamwork to save a Brown Pelican entangled in fishing line off West Cliff in Santa Cruz, Calif. This bird is now recuperating at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center. [Wildlife Emergency Services’ blog]

• The International Maritime Organization has banned the discharge of a chemical that caused the deaths of thousands of seabirds in England earlier this _65639319_photoyear. Polyisobutene, or PIB, is an oil additive that until recently could be legally discharged in restricted quantities during cleaning of a ship’s tanks or ballast water flushing, The Guardian reports. PIB was identified as the whitish slick that came ashore on beaches from Cornwall to Dorset in January and April.

“[A]t a meeting of the IMO’s working group on the Evaluation of Safety and Pollution Hazards of Chemicals in London on Tuesday, it was announced that from 2014 all high-viscosity PIBs will be reclassified under a separate category that bans their discharge at sea and requires tanks to be fully pre-washed and all residues to be disposed of at port. This will also apply to new ‘highly reactive’ forms of PIB, which are currently being transported unassessed,” the newspaper reports. [The Guardian]

• The first peer-reviewed research on the use of birdsong recordings to attract birds finds the practice could have a negative impact, at least in the short term, according to a paper published in PLOS One that studied the effects of such recordings on the vocal behavior of Plain-tailed Wrens and Rufous Antpittas in Ecuador. “Birds could be wasting their time and energy by responding to nonexistent intruders,” co-author and Princeton University postdoctoral fellow J. Berton Harris said of the use of the recordings, known as playback. “When male birds respond to birdwatchers’ playbacks to defend their territories, they may spend less time caring for their nestlings, experience higher levels of stress hormones or be subject to a romantic coup from other males while away from their mates.” [PLOSOne.org]

• Via HuffPo, a touching Q&A with Bob Barker and his extraordinary philanthropic legacy for animals in need. [Huffington Post Green]

• Top tweets of the week:






October 22, 2013

This year’s Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest winners

Deanna Barth, this year’s winner of the Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest

The 2013 Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest has come to an end, and it was a success — although very different from the previous contest from October 2012 to January 2013. This year’s contest ran from July 29 through October 14. (Read more info on this program here.)

Last year, we were inundated with young pelicans at both of our Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay centers. Once released, they were easily spotted, as these birds spent more time around harbors. This year, the abundance of schooling fish along the coast was a real boost for pelicans, especially young ones, and we saw fewer young birds at our centers. About 150 young pelicans came into both our centers this year, compared to more than 600 in 2012. Because of this, we released fewer hatching-year birds, resulting in a reduced number of sightings.

But we still had some great sightings. During the duration of the contest, we had 41 Blue-Banded Pelican sightings, representing 35 individual birds. Twenty-two of these sightings were first-time spots: birds that have never been seen since their release. Though one of those birds was found dead in Mexico, the others were all sighted alive.

The winner of our sighting contest is Deanna Barth, a veterinary assistant of 14 years and avid wildlife rescuer and bird watcher. Deanna sighted eight Blue-Banded Pelicans from Monterey to Half Moon Bay, Calif. As the top spotter, Deanna won a Vortex Nomad 20-60 X 60 Angled Spotting Scope and a chance to release a rehabilitated Brown Pelican. Congratulations, Deanna!

Our second-place winner is Julie Howar. Julie is a wildlife biologist who is also a member of our oil spill response team. Julie spotted four Blue-Banded Pelicans, all near Pismo Beach, Calif. Julie won a pair of 2X Eagle Optics Denali 8 X 42 binoculars. Congratulations, Julie!

Our Blue-Banded Pelican Photo Contest winners are:

Banded Brown Pelican Coming Down

First Place: Marlin Harms, who photographed Pelican T82 near San Luis Obispo, Calif. on September 5.


Second Place: James Kenney, who spotted Pelican P06 at the Malibu Lagoon on October 14.
K15-10-12-13 Rodriguez

Third Place: Nathan Rodriguez, who spotted and photographed Pelican K15 at the Pacifica Pier on October 14.

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.

Check out the sightings below. Particularly interesting is K15, who has made a beautiful transformation, evident by his original juvenile plumage to his now adult plumage. K15 also spend his summer in Washington and then came back to California to the place he seems to like best, the Pacifica Pier!


Meanwhile, M32 still resides inland and is living at Bel Marin Keys near Novato, Calif. This bird has chosen to live inland.

Blue Band Number

Most Recent



Most Recent Date Sighted

Reason for Rehab

Release Date

Release Location

Previous sightings


Westport, WA


Thin, weak, contaminated


San Pedro, CA

2/9/12, 9/12 & 8/14/12   @ San Pedro – 6/18, 6/24 & 7/27/13 @ Westport, WA

Brown Rock, Pismo Beach, CA


 Thin, weak, first year bird


San Pedro, CA

12/28/12 @ Redondo Bch

7/12/13 @ Pismo Bch, CA


Brown Rock, Pismo Beach, CA

7/31/13 Fishing Tackle


San Pedro, CA

7/19/13 @ Pismo Bch.


Westport, WA


 Thin, weak, first year bird


Bodega Bay, CA


Westport, WA


Sea lion bites


 San Pedro, CA


 Brown Rock, Pismo Beach, CA


Fishing Tackle


 San Pedro, CA


 Brown Rock, Pismo Beach, CA


Sea lion bites


San Pedro, CA


Westport, WA


Thin, weak, contaminated


Sausalito, CA

6/17/12 @ Astoria, OR


Westport, WA


 Broken wing


 Sausalito, CA


Monterey, CA


Multiple injuries


Sausalito, CA


 Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay, CA


 Fishing Tackle


Alameda, CA


Westport, WA


Thin, weak, contaminated


Berkeley, CA

4/1/10 @ Santa Barbara, 2/9/12 @ San Pedro.  7/27, 7/31,13 @ Westport, WA


Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay, CA


 Fishing Tackle


 San Pedro, CA


Westport, WA




Sausalito, CA


 Squaw Is. OR


Thin, weak


 Alameda, CA


Westport, WA


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA


Westport, WA


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

Westport, WA


Thin, weak


Sausalito, CA

Monterey, CA


Thin, weak, contaminated


Sausalito, CA

2/7/12, 4/24/12, 7/8/12, 7/14/12, 8/25/12, 9/2/212, 12/13/12, 8/21/13 in Monterey, CA


San Luis Obispo, CA


Fishing Tackle


San Pedro, CA

Pismo Bch, CA


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

Malibu, CA


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

Los Angeles, CA @ Will Rogers Bch


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

11/12/12 @ Coronado, CA, 11/15/12 @ San Pedro


Redondo Bch, CA


Fishing Tackle


San Pedro, CA

12/1/09, 1/21/10, 9/2/12, 9/15/12, 11/11/12, 11/12/20,  11/17/12, 12/8/12,  12/20/12, 12/26/12, 12/27/12, 12/28/12, 12/30/12  twice on 1/1&3/13, 1/15/13, 2/2/13 @ Redondo Beach Pier


Los Angeles, CA @ Will Rogers Bch


Fishing Tackle


San Pedro, CA

San Diego, CA @ Mission Bay


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

Long Beach, CA @ Terminal Island


Injured foot


San Pedro, CA

11/10/12, 1/2,3,7,20/13, 2/23/13 San Pedro, CA @ Commercial Fish Docks


Westport, WA


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

4/7/13 @ Westport, WA


Half Moon Bay, CA


Sea lion bites


Sausalito, CA

Half Moon Bay, CA


Sea lion bites


San Pedro, CA

Elkhorn Slough, CA


Thin, weak


Alameda, CA

9/28/2013 @ Half Moon Bay


Novato, CA


Thin, weak


Moss Landing, CA

2/8/12 @ Yolo Land Fill, Davis, CA,  6/14/12 @ Shollenberger Park, Petaluma, CA, 4/1/13 @ Novato, CA in Bel Marin Keys


Pacifica, CA @ Pacifica Pier


Pouch lacerations


Alameda, CA 11/12/11, 1/8/12,  2/17/12 10/30/12, 11/1/12, 11/6/12, 4 times on 11/10/12 11/26/12, 11/29/12, 1/13/12, 1/19/13, 3/3/13, 3/13/13 @ Pacifica Pier – 7/24/13, 8/13/13, 9/14/13 @ Westport, WA, 9/26/13 in Half Moon Bay, CA @ Pillar Point Harbor

Malibu, CA @Malibu Lagoon


Fishing Tackle


Sausalito, CA
October 21, 2013

Update on Northern Pintail: Adopted!

Northern Pintail 1

This past weekend, we brought you news of a female Northern Pintail that our Los Angeles center received after she had been struck by a car near The Queen Mary in Long Beach. An injury to her keel required surgical repair by our veterinarian, though the prognosis for a full recovery is very good.

We’re happy to announce that our friends at The Queen Mary saw this story and have offered to symbolically adopt this pintail to support its rehabilitative care!

International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay centers depend on the support of local business to care for wild animals affected by the urban environment. Queen Mary’s generosity is a wonderful example of this: Please give them a shout-out on Facebook for this Northern Pintail adoption!

Duck, Pintail IMG_1021-L

Are you a local business in Los Angeles or the Bay Area and interested in our symbolic adoption program? Email us and we’ll contact you personally about this wonderful program for local wildlife in need.

Photos by Bill Steinkamp

October 19, 2013

In care this week at our Los Angeles center: Northern Fulmar and Northern Pintail

Fulmar, Northern IMG_0920-L
Northern Fulmar, photo by Bill Steinkamp

NOFUTwo bird species in care this week at our Los Angeles center have “northern” in their names — one a seabird, the other a dabbling duck. Resident volunteer photographer Bill Steinkamp photographed both during a recent visit.

The Northern Fulmar shown above was admitted cold and weak to our colleagues at California Wildlife Center in Malibu. At transfer to our Los Angeles facility, the bird had an extremely swollen and bruised left leg with a strong possibility that part of the foot might die due to impaired circulation, and an infected tendon on the middle toe of the opposite foot.

The infected tendon was surgically removed and the left leg continues to improve. Our veterinarian remains guardedly optimistic.

Duck, Pintail IMG_0851-L
Photo by Bill Steinkamp

NOPTAlso in care is this female Northern Pintail. She was struck by a car near the Queen Mary in Long Beach, and was transferred to us after spending some time at a local veterinary clinic. She had an open pressure ulcer on her keel that required surgical repair by our veterinarian, and many toe abrasions that are healing well now that she is able to be housed in the water.

Images below include her keel lesion during pre-surgical prep. Barring complications, this bird’s prognosis for a full recovery is very good.

Photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr

Check out the latest count of birds in care at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center here. Thanks to Dr. Rebecca Duerr and Neil Uelman for the updates on these patients.

Duck, Pintail IMG_0873-L
Photo by Bill Steinkamp


October 17, 2013

Photographers in Focus: Bill Steinkamp

IMG_5507 copy-L

Baby American Coot at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center. All photos © Bill Steinkamp.

Here at International Bird Rescue, we’re very fortunate to have a deep bench of bird lovers who also happen to be great photographers.

One of these team members is Bill Steinkamp, who photographs birds in care weekly at our Los Angeles center in the San Pedro neighborhood. His work can be seen regularly on our blog and Facebook page as well as Bill’s own Facebook page and Flickr page.

This year, he’s photographed a natural oil seep event in February that resulted in many oiled Common Murres transported to our L.A. center in need of stabilizing, washing and further rehabilitation prior to release. He’s also photographed several interesting patients, from the colorful baby coot seen above to a Blue-footed Booby found injured and wandering in South L.A.

We asked Bill to choose some of his favorite photos, both from the center and in the wild. Here are his selections and the back story of each:Egret, Snowy IMG_4930-L
Steinkamp: I photographed this Snowy Egret on a bird walk at Ballona Wetlands. It was one of the first photographs I saved when I first started birding photography.

Cormorant IMG_1382-L
This is a Brandt’s Cormorant in care at the center in October.

Heron, Black-Crowned Night-L
I think Black-crowned Night Herons have mysterious and intriguing eyes.
Hawk, Cooper's-L
I really love this shot of a Cooper’s Hawk. I always try and get a precise eye shot in my bird photos. This was photographed in my backyard in Redondo Beach.

Grebe, Eared-L
This is an Eared Grebe at International Bird Rescue being rehabbed. They are much smaller than I thought and so colorful.

Pelican, Brown IMG_1566-L
I have hundreds of pelican photos, but I especially liked this one because of the splashing water.

Oyster Catcher-L
These Oystercatchers have stunning beak and eye color. Photographed at Ballona Creek in Marina del Rey, Calif.

Swallow, Barn Angry IMG_2258-L
Angry birds, anyone? These Barn Swallows are very hard to photograph. Another good example of using high-speed continuous shooting.

Release of Pelican V50, a victim of human cruelty released 14 months after it was found with its primary and secondary feathers clipped.


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.

October 12, 2013

Weekend snapshots: Birds in care at our centers

Photographers Cheryl Reynolds and Bill Steinkamp have taken some great recent shots of our birds in care at the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles centers. Here are just a few selects…

Cormorant IMG_0542-L
Brandt’s Cormorant, photo by Bill Steinkamp

Grebe IMG_0587-L
Eared Grebes, photo by Bill Steinkamp

Pied-Billed Grebe 13-2393 in care at SF Bay Center
Pied-billed Grebe, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Common Murre at SF Bay Center
Common Murre, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Pied-Billed Grebe 13-2393 in care at SF Bay Center
Pied-billed Grebe, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Eared Grebe 13-2405 in care at SF Bay Center
Eared Grebe, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

October 11, 2013

Blue-Banded Pelican sightings this fall

Banded Brown Pelican Coming Down
Blue-Banded Pelican T82 surrounded by Heermann’s Gulls, photo by Marlin Harms

All field accounts indicate that it’s been a good year for seabirds along the West Coast that feed on schooling fish like sardines and anchovies. Fish seem to be plentiful to the point that they are drawing birds from the south, such as the current influx of Blue-footed Boobies that have made their way into California following large schools of sardines.

Last year at this time, our two centers were inundated with young pelicans. This year to date, our Los Angeles has received fewer than 100 first-year birds, compared to the nearly 500 young pelicans we had last year at this time. Our San Francisco Bay center has had less than 50 youngsters this year, compared to the 300 or so that had come in last year at this time.

We are not complaining. We are happy! If you go to any of the large pelican roosts, such as Dinosaur Rocks near Pismo Beach, the breakwaters at Half Moon Bay, Monterey or Astoria, Ore. and Westport, Wash., you will see lots of first-year pelicans, healthy and flying off to feed on fish offshore.

What this has done, however, is made the sighting of blue-banded birds from our Blue-Banded Pelican Program a bit more difficult. They are not hanging around people in harbors as much because they don’t need us. They have another fish source that seems to be pretty easy to access.

We still have had some really impressive sightings of a few of our rehabilitated birds though, and we wanted to share them with 6d6d79e6aa3e70eebfca8455b3765220you:

K15: This second-year bird, who was the darling of the Pacifica Pier throughout 2012, has been seen three times in Westport, Wash. this summer hanging out with other pelicans on the breakwater to the harbor. We were very concerned about this bird, as people fed it, took pictures with it and petted it for months in Pacifica and even called him their mascot. Because of this, we were skeptical about K15’s survival due to its habituation to humans and fishing piers. But the recent sightings have shown that when natural food is plentiful, pelicans tend to avoid humans, even if they know they can get a handout.

K15 was originally released on July 26, 2011. He has been too far away to get good photos, but he’s going into his adult plumage and looks like a different bird.

C34 ModschiiedlerC34 (shown left) was reported dozens of times last year, as he spent much of his time hanging out at the Redondo Beach Pier. There is even a video on YouTube where a family was feeding and trying to pet him. C34 is an adult bird that was released on Nov. 6, 2009. He was seen at the pier in February 2013 but then disappeared. He showed up again on Sept. 20 at the pier. Here’s a photo by IBR volunteer Paul Modschiiedler.

T82 (shown at the top of this post) came to us with a broken wing and was released on Jan. 31, 2013 in San Pedro, Calif. This bird was sighted on Sept. 13, 2013 making a graceful landing in San Luis Obispo, photo my Marlin Harms.

There is still time to find Blue-Banded Pelicans and a chance to win a spotting scope as part of this fall’s sighting contest. Just go to their roosting spots and scope for the bands!

You can see more photos of Blue-Banded Pelicans sent to us on our Pinterest page.

Have a photo of a Blue-Banded Pelican? Email us and we may feature it!

October 10, 2013

Cruelty case: Terns are not for target practice

Elegant Tern 13-2408 in care at SF Bay Center, pellet in shoulder
Elegant Tern recovering from gunshot injury, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Update: The Santa Cruz Sentinel has covered this cruelty incident, read the article here.

With a slender, downturned bill, a black crown during breeding season and a graceful wing shape in flight, it’s easy to see where the Elegant Tern got its name.

Unfortunately, the tern you see here was the target of very inelegant human cruelty, and now has a bullet lodged in its right shoulder.

Earlier this week, our San Francisco Bay center received into care this Elegant Tern, found injured on a beach in Santa Cruz, Calif. Xray1X-rays confirmed the presence of the bullet, shown here. These animals are considered a near-threatened species for their highly restricted breeding distribution: More than 90% of all Elegant Terns nest on the small island of Isla Rasa off the coast of Mexico’s Baja California.

But we are pleased to report that as of this post, the bird is doing well in care. And International Bird Rescue’s centers have deep experience in caring for terns such as this one. For instance, in 2006 we raised many young tern survivors after dozens of nests were deliberately washed off a barge docked in Long Beach, Calif. To give these birds the best chance of survival, we released them at a tern colony in the Salton Sea, where they would be surrounded by other young birds learning to fish.

International Bird Rescue Members help us make this work possible, whether it’s carrying for bird victims of cruelty incidents or other injury types. If you’ve given in our fall membership drive, thank you so much. If you haven’t yet, please consider joining us – we’re closing in on our $30,000 pledge goal and need your support. Any gift of $25 or more makes you a member.

Anyone with information on the perpetrator or perpetrators behind this animal cruelty case should call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Offices in Burlingame, Calif. at (650) 876-9078. Elegant Terns are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Elegant Tern 13-2408 in care at SF Bay Center, pellet in shoulder

Meanwhile, our San Francisco Bay center is filling up with many other interesting seabirds in need of expert care, including this Surf Scoter (shown below), treated for a scalp injury of undetermined cause. You can see his recovery live on our BirdCam, along with several murres and grebes sharing his pool.

Surf Scoter 13-2400 in care at SF Bay Center
Surf Scoter, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Basic-Membership 3  Sustaining-Members

More cruelty case coverage from 2013:

An update on arrowed goose’s recovery

More than a year after cruel attack, Brown Pelican soars high again

Birds getting caught in Marina del Rey tree nets

Santa Cruz Sentinel: Information sought after federally protected bird shot in Capitola (Oct. 10, 2013)

October 8, 2013

The fall membership drive: We’re almost there!

PBGR and COMU's in care at SF Bay CenterCommon Murres and a Pied-billed Grebe share a diving bird pool at our San Francisco Bay center, photo by Cheryl Reynolds.

Good news! We are nearly at the finish line for our fall membership drive. If you’ve already signed up, thank you so much for your support. As of today, we’re Tally-with-feederat 98% of our $30,000 pledge goal.

This week, a few lucky new members will take home this Bird Cafe Feeder from our friends at Umbra!

Click on the below buttons for sustaining member and basic membership info.

Sustaining-Members Basic-Membership 3

October 7, 2013

Red-tailed Hawk wash

Diana Pereira (left) and Julie Skoglund prepare to wash an oiled Red-tailed Hawk, photos by Dave Weeshoff


Last week, our Los Angeles center team washed an oiled Red-tailed Hawk, which was lightly sedated to minimize stress on the animal during the procedure. A photo of this wash posted to our Facebook page has become one of the most popular posts thus far this fall. Below are some additional photos of the process by Dave Weeshoff.

While we normally deal with oiled/contaminated aquatic birds, our team is equipped to handle many other species as well. For example, nearly a year ago our Los Angeles center washed this Sharp-shinned Hawk that had been contaminated with glue trap material.

Thank you to our friends at Dawn Saves Wildlife for their generous support of International Bird Rescue and oiled wildlife around the world. This hawk has since been transferred to a partner wildlife organization for further rehabilitation.





RTHA-Julie Skoglund
The hawk post-wash, photo by Julie Skoglund

Related posts:

In care this week: Red-tailed Hawk

Hawk and owl patients at our SF Bay center

October 2, 2013

Red-necked Phalarope (and BirdCam Project alum) released in San Francisco Bay

Red-Necked Phalarope at SF Bay Center
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

If you’ve been to our BirdCam Project page lately, you may have seen this Red-necked Phalarope. On August 29, the bird came into care at our San Francisco Bay center not holding its wing in a normal posture, and X-rays revealed a fractured coracoid. The wing was wrapped, and the bird was housed in a hospital pool during its recovery. For a few weeks, many of you watched this bird in his pool, plucking small invertebrates from soda caps and dipping them into the water before eating.

Phalarope in early days of care, photo by Isabel Luevano

Once the wrap was removed, the bird held his wing in a normal posture and began to flap more and more normally. On September 19, this phalarope was beginning to fly, so we moved him to a large pelagic pool, where he began rigorously practicing flight.

After this bird’s flight was evaluated (the phalarope was flying around the pool like a hummingbird, our staff noted!), we released him at Ft. Baker in the San Francisco Bay.

Here, Pelican Partner Janet Williams releases the phalarope after her pelican release.

Release photos by Kathy Koehler


Basic-Membership 3 Sustaining-Members

October 1, 2013

Intern spotlight: Brianna Settle

Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Hometown: I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and am very fortunate to live close to International Bird Rescue’s Cordelia center!

Education: I was homeschooled with my sisters all the way through 12th grade, and am currently a full-time student at the local junior college, where I am completing my undergraduate work. I know that I want to work in the field of avian rehabilitation, especially after my internship with IBR, but I am still exploring the different avenues available to me. I am considering becoming a rehabilitation technician, registered veterinary technician, or doctor of veterinary medicine. Right now I am leaning toward becoming a veterinarian. I plan to get my Ph.D.

How I got started: I originally decided to start volunteering at IBR because it would give me experience working with wildlife in a rehabilitation capacity, though at the time I was interested in becoming a cetacean biologist. It didn’t take long for me to absolutely fall in love with the animals, the work and the people. I never imagined two years ago that I would one day hold wild birds in my hands, administer medications to them, clean enclosures large enough for a person to live in, prepare fish, perform examinations and have the opportunity to learn from some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.

Favorite species: I have always been partial to birds with attitude, and yeah, that means the angry ones who try to bite you! I love it when a bird is really green herons again-Mfeisty, because that generally means that they have a good prognosis. Green Herons are really cool, when you first open their cage they all point their beaks straight up into the air and are still able to look at you with both eyes, because they protrude a little. They are small, and some of the trickiest escape artists ever — so full of personality! Gulls are great, they really stick up for themselves. I love cormorants, they are really beautiful birds. They also look at you with their beaks in the air and are very rambunctious! And grebes are fantastic, I love their lobed toes and the way they fold their feet and head into their feathers when they sleep!

#SaveWildlife Advice: If you are interested in helping animals and being involved in their rehabilitation, volunteer! You’ll learn amazing things and get to meet incredible people who are passionate about the work that you are doing to make the world a better place. The people at IBR are incredibly dedicated, smart, kind, nurturing, funny and caring. The atmosphere is warm and delightful — a great bunch of people!

Don’t worry if you’re too young to start volunteering, you’ll get there soon enough. And in the mean time you can tour centers, research animals and talk to staff and volunteers from rehabilitation organizations. A great resource is the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) website. They have information regarding oil spill response and rehabilitation. There is also a list of rehabilitation centers and organizations throughout the state of California that would be fascinating to learn about and visit!

I hope that you are able to be a part of something that is as wonderful, surprising and thrilling as interning and volunteering at IBR!

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.