Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for December 2013

December 31, 2013

Patient of the week: Brown Booby

Photos by Isabel LuevanoBRBO

Update, January 18: Check out a video update of this bird’s progress here.

One of the last patients admitted to our San Francicso Bay center in 2013 is this Brown Booby, a very rare visitor to the area. The bird was recently transferred to us from our friends at WildCare in Marin County.

Where did this bird come from? We touched base with Patricia Vader, a sculptor in Martinez, CA, who brought the bird into care:

Vader: I found the Brown Booby about 1/4 mile south of the Point Reyes North Beach north parking lot (see map below for location). Time and date about 1:45pm on December 26, a very warm and sunny clear day, at least 64F, almost no wind.

I had taken a hike along the beach with my husband and dogs from the north parking lot down to almost the south parking lot, and on the way out there was no bird in sight. The tide was just coming up. About an hour later on our way back, I saw that bird on the wet sand, about 10 ft from the water line. I immediately sensed something unusual about it, because it seemed awkward and barely moved. I observed it for a little while and thought it might be injured. It also looked like it was shivering, not just the wind blowing its feathers. Nobody except us had been on this part of the beach that day, all other visitors staying closer to the parking lot. There were no other birds of any kind in sight, and the beach was very clean (no garbage, only flotsam wood and kelp).

Brown Booby found at Point Reyes (blue marker on the left) and transferred International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center in Fairfield (right) via WildCare in San Rafael.

When I approached the bird, it could barely move away a few feet. … I caught it by throwing the small towel I had over it and then wrapping it in my clothes. It did not offer any bodily resistance except for trying from time to time to peck its surroundings, thrusting out its long neck.

The good news is that the booby has put on significant weight since it came to the center, and at last report was doing well in our large outdoor aviary, sharing the enclosure with a Brown Pelican, a cormorant and several gulls.

We’ll keep you posted on this bird’s continued rehabilitation! And thank you to Patricia for making a symbolic adoption of this bird. Find out more about our Adopt a Bird Program here.


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Brown Booby in the large outdoor aviary, photo by Julie Skoglund

December 31, 2013

Who has the sweetest volunteers? We do.


Many thanks to volunteers Mary and Julie for making these delectable peli-cookies for the Los Angeles staff! Of the many things we’re thankful for as 2013 draws to a close, our amazing volunteers rank at the top.

Want to get involved?  Click here to download the volunteer application.


December 28, 2013

Patient of the week: Bufflehead


Photos by Isabel LuevanoBufflehead

This week’s featured patient is a male Bufflehead, one of two such sea ducks currently in care at our San Francisco Bay center.

Rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano reports that one Bufflehead was found in Foster City, CA on December 13, and was thin with minor foot abrasions. The other bird was found in San Bruno, CA on December 16 — also thin with foot abrasions. These birds are migrating at this time of the year through our area.

Both birds are doing well in care and can be seen during the day on our BirdCam, along with a a Common Goldeneye, a Surf Scoter and a tiny Eared Grebe.


Update: Released! Rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano sent these photos of the birds final evaluation and banding.



December 28, 2013

Intern 2013 spotlight: Stephanie Walls

International Bird Rescue has been fortunate to have many talented and devoted interns as part of our International Internship Program. Today, we feature Stephanie Walls, who completed her internship at our San Francisco Bay center earlier this year.

Hometown: Fairfield, CAunnamed

Education: In May this year, I graduated from California State University-Monterey Bay with a bachelors in Environmental Science Technology and Policy, concentration Marine and Coastal Ecology.

First experience in wildlife rehab: One summer home from college, I volunteered with the Suisun Marsh Natural History Association and really enjoyed it.  I then started looking for opportunities similar to this in Monterey so I can continue to volunteer while at school.  I found that the Monterey County SPCA had a wildlife center, so I started volunteering there. It was actually while I was volunteering in Monterey that I learned about International Bird Rescue.

Favorite species to work with: I don’t really have a particular favorite species. I loved working with all the species I’ve been able to handle thus far. They all are pretty awesome and feisty in their own way which, I think, makes all species exciting to work with.

#SaveWildlife Advice: Find places to volunteer! I had no idea that IBR was practically in my backyard until I was 150 miles away from it. It’s a lot of hard work and not all aspects are bird care, but you quickly learn that everything going on in wildlife care centers are equally important, not only for the birds safety but also for the humans.

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.

Northern Fulmar, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

December 26, 2013

Release! Eared Grebes and a juvenile Western Gull

photo 1-L

Two recent successful releases from our Los Angeles center: Two Eared Grebes (above) as well as a juvenile Western Gull (below). Both were released in San Pedro, CA. Read more on Eared Grebes in our care this winter here.

Photos by Kelly Berry.

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December 26, 2013

Release! Cackling Geese


Many thanks to wildlife photographer and naturalist Jim Hanlon, who took these recent photos of International Bird Rescue volunteer Dave Weeshoff (pictured above in the blue ballcap) and two fellow bird lovers releasing two Cackling Geese cared for at IBR’s Los Angeles center. The release took place at Sepulveda Basin Nature Reserve on December 23.

Click here for the latest count of birds in care.



Cackling Goose Release 12-23-13

Cackling Goose Release_2 12-31-13

Here are a few shots from Weeshoff’s lens:





Jim Hanlon’s photos of an American White Pelican release, December 2012

Cackling Goose profile on All About Birds

December 21, 2013

Patient of the week: American Wigeon


Wigeon IMG_4596-L
AMWIPhotos by Bill Steinkamp

Our patient of the week comes from International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center, which has been taking care of this juvenile American Wigeon for several days. Volunteer photographer Bill Steinkamp recently took a few snapshots of the bird recovering in a special waterfowl pen.

This wigeon was found on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles — hardly a suitable habitat for a dabbling duck such as this one. Upon intake, the bird was found to have thin body condition and poor blood values. But after regaining its waterproofing, the wigeon was placed in an outdoor pen.

Wigeon IMG_4592-L

Below, a photo of what an adult male American Wigeon looks like, via Wikimedia Commons.


December 20, 2013

The “Every Bird Matters” mission video

What is International Bird Rescue?

What do we do, where do we work, why do we do it — and why should you get involved?

You’ll find the answer to all these questions in this three-minute video.

In this season of giving, we hope you’ll support the “Every Bird Matters” mission.

Year-End Gift






Photo by John Hrusa

December 20, 2013

The week in bird news, December 20

• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Hawaii has published rules allowing state and federal agencies to euthanize non-native Barn Owls and Cattle Egrets. [Hawaii News Now]

• A Great Blue Heron tangled in fishing line is rescued from the Los Angeles River and transported for care at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center. [KCET]

• Police officers in San Francisco find two decapitated Chukar Partridges likely killed in a ritual sacrifice. Animal sacrifice is illegal and can carry a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. [KTVU]

• A look at perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and their DDT-like effect on egg hatching. [Care2]

• Sonoma Birding, pioneer of the Christmas Bird Count for Kids, has all the info on NorCal CBC events for budding birders in the coming weeks. [Sonoma Birding]

• Also in CBC news: Some preliminary counts have shown a disappointing number of birds this season. [SF Gate]

• Amazon.com’s futuristic dream of drones delivering your goods may face a major hurdle: raptors. Hawks, eagles and other birds all have a track record of attacking offending small drones that breach their hunting ground airspace. [Slate]

Top tweets:





December 14, 2013

Patient of the week: Sora Rail

Photo by Isabel Luevano

Our latest patient of the week is a Sora Rail, currently in care at our San Francisco Bay center. Rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano reports that the bird was found in Concord, CA, having apparently been caught by both a dog and cat in a backyard. There were no visible injuries on the bird except for one small puncture wound on its chest.

Good news: The bird is doing well in care, Luevano reports.

December 13, 2013

The week in bird news, December 13


• Wisdom, a Laysan Albatross who holds the title of world’s oldest banded bird, was recently spotted with her life mate readying their nest on Midway Atoll in the Hawaiian Islands. Via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

Laysan albatrosses mate for life and Wisdom has raised between 30 to 35 chicks since being banded in 1956 at an estimated age of 5.  Laying only one egg per year, a breeding albatross will spend a tiring 365 days incubating and raising a chick.  Most albatross parents then take the following year off (and who could blame them?) but not Wisdom.

Nesting consecutively since 2008, Wisdom’s continued contribution to the fragile albatross population is remarkable and important. Her health and dedication have led to the birth of other healthy offspring which will help recover albatross populations on Laysan and other islands. [USFWS]

• Alaska Fish and Game officials are now blaming avian cholera for a mass die-off of seabirds on St. Lawrence Island, located 200 miles west of the mainland in the Bering Sea. Species affected by the outbreak that killed hundreds of birds include Northern Fulmars, Thick-billed Murres and Black-crested Auklets. [Anchorage Daily News]

• Dramatic tidal fluctuations in the San Francisco Bay promises stellar beachcombing and birdwatching. The San Francisco Chronicle offers some of the best spots to enjoy late afternoon excursions. [SF Chronicle]

• Sparrows seeking shelter in dense foliage, cardinals puffing up to minimize heat loss, chickadees putting on fat for better insulation: Avian strategies to combat winter cold are manifold. [Audubon 18123_145737_megumiaita_pinewarblerinsnowMagazine]

• Wildlife rangers in South Florida are looking for the perpetrator (or perpetrators) behind an attack on several Brown Pelicans found with their pouches slashed.

“It looked like someone intentionally opened up the mouth, stuck some kind of sharp knife in and literally ripped it as far as they could,” said David Hitzig, director of Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter. International Bird Rescue has seen many of these cases over the years. [WPTV.com]

Snowy Owls are confusing runways for tundra at airports. [NatGeo]

• A look at the growing controversy over wind farms and the collateral deaths of thousands of raptors and other birds each year. [SF Gate]

• Audubon releases an intriguing interactive map on important bird areas of the Pacific Flyway. [Audubon]

Top tweets:





December 11, 2013

Washing an oiled loon


COLOWith their haunting calls and beautiful breeding plumage, Common Loons are regular winter visitors to the Pacific Coast. And like other diving birds, they are susceptible to becoming oiled, whether by natural seepage or human-caused events.

Here, Dr. Rebecca Duerr and wildlife rehabilitators Kylie Clatterbuck (left) and Julie Skoglund of International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center wash an oiled Common Loon found on Carpinteria State Beach in Southern California. This animal was transferred to us from a partner wildlife group and was about 70% oiled upon arrival. The loon was also suffering from minor burns around its hocks due to oil exposure.

Washing an awake and struggling loon can be extremely stressful for both the washers and the bird. Consequently, as shown here, we often wash loons under anesthesia.

But we’re pleased to report the loon is doing well, and was recently transferred to a warm water pool.

Photos by Diane Carter




Further reading:

Common Loon profile on AllAboutBirds.org

International Bird Rescue blog: The loon and the lighthouse

KQED: East Bay Regional Parks rescue injured loon, cared for at International Bird Rescue

December 11, 2013

24-hour match: Your gift feeds twice as many baby birds today!


Dear Friend,

Encountering a baby bird in the care of International Bird Rescue’s wildlife centers is a bittersweet experience: Here’s a beautiful new life, but one that now must survive without its parents.

These animals always inspire us, and we often hear how they inspire you too. “I read about what you are doing and it just touches my heart,” a woman named Julie recently wrote to us. “I’m on social security, I don’t have a leg, and they just raised my rent. Maybe things will get better. You never know.”

Despite her hard times, Julie found it in her heart to send what she could — a small amount that speaks volumes about her support for wildlife. We were bowled over by her spirit of generosity.

Thanks to an angel donor, Julie’s gift will be doubled today, as well as your gift to save orphaned and other wild birds. Your support during this critical time is most appreciated.

If you’ve already given this year, thank you so very much. In just a few months, these precious young birds will arrive at our doorstep — by the hundreds. They come to us for any numberKilldeer, chick IMG_5128 copy-M of reasons. Mother ducks get hit by a car or separated by busy roadways. Fledging egrets fall from nests in trees high above traffic medians. Whatever the species, we treat all these baby birds with the expert care and reverence they deserve. Will you help these animals today?

We’re proud to say that we give countless orphaned birds a second chance with food and medical care. We minimize human interaction and place the birds with surrogate parents or other orphans of the same species to ensure the best possible chance for successful reintroduction into nature — always our bottom-line goal.

Every orphaned bird has a story. With your help, we can give that story the happy ending it deserves.

Best wishes this holiday season,

Jay Holcomb-Signature

Jay Holcomb
Executive Director

P.S. – Prefer to give over the phone? Call us at 510-289-1472 and we’ll handle your gift right away.

International Bird Rescue is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax ID: 94-1739027

December 10, 2013

Shop Amazon, help birds

Amazon-Smile DSC_0112-M

Good news! International Bird Rescue is now a featured charity in the AmazonSmile program, which donates a portion of your purchases to nonprofits.

Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to International Bird Rescue whenever you shop on AmazonSmile, which has the same products and services as offered by Amazon.com.

If you are an Amazon aficionado, you may want to also check out our Amazon.com Wish Lists, which feature a wide variety of products we depend upon every day. You can choose from our Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay center Wish Lists.

Every donation matters! Thank you so much for your support!

December 6, 2013

Patient of the week: Wilson’s Snipe

Snipe, Wilson's IMG_3933-L
Photo by Bill SteinkampSnipe Infographic

Our latest patient of the week comes from International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center, which at last count was caring for 42 birds, including Ruddy Ducks, Horned Grebes and a Rhinoceros Auklet.

The Wilson’s Snipe was considered to be a subspecies of the Common Snipe until a decade ago, and is known for a very long bill that the bird uses to probe for prey in soft mud. Here, this snipe is evaluated prior to release.

Banding photos by Paul Berry



Following its final evaluation and banding, our team took this snipe to suitable marsh habitat in the area, where it can be seen below expertly camouflaged among the reeds. Can you find him?

Release photos by Paul Berry