Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for January 2014

January 25, 2014

Patient of the week: Ruddy Duck

Photo by Isabel Luevano

Ruddy-DuckAmong the releases from our San Francisco Bay center this past week is a Ruddy Duck, one that spent several days in an outdoor pool featured on International Bird Rescue’s BirdCam Project.

Ruddy Ducks are common patients at both our California centers. In L.A., we recently cared for two ruddies that had “crash-landed” in Los Feliz and Hollywood, while last summer our L.A. team cared for another ruddy with a wing laceration injury.

Above, the latest Ruddy Duck in care goes through a release evaluation prior to returning to the wild. Go Ruddy!

January 24, 2014

The week in bird news, January 24

A Cliff Swallow underneath a bridge, photo by Ingrid Taylar via Wikimedia Commons

• After a longstanding battle, the California Department of Transportation has agreed to remove nylon netting underneath a bridge project in Petaluma, CA that killed over 100 nesting Cliff Swallows that became entangled.

“Swallows will be returning to Petaluma in early March,” Veronica Bowers, director of the nonprofit group Native Songbird Care and Conservation and a plaintiff in a lawsuit against CalTrans, told the LA Times. “And when they do, our vigilant monitors will be waiting for them at both bridge structures to make sure the transportation agencies do the right thing.” [Los Angeles Times]

• A wonderful remembrance of a wildlife hero: The Santa Cruz Sentinel writes on the passing of Native Animal Rescue’s Molly Richardson, who died this week at age 85:

A native of India who came to America by way of New Zealand, Richardson settled in Pacific Grove, where she was a school teacher. But her retirement and a move to Live Oak would bring a second career, converting a home into a hub for Native Animal Rescue, a network of big-hearted and often brave volunteers nursing pelicans, song birds, raccoons, possums, bats, foxes and even skunks back to health. [Santa Cruz Sentinel]

• Nicholas Lund of @TheBirdist tackles one of the more common misconceptions about birds. [Slate]

• In Australia, avian rehabilitators on the central coast fear botulism is to blame for the deaths of scores of pelicans and 465100-fb4adf9c-7cae-11e3-82be-33b32b586748waterfowl. [The Daily Telegraph; photo right via Daily Telegraph]

• Via the Atlantic, flight paths as dazzling art. [Atlantic Cities]

• Wildlife rehabbers in Key West, FL are reporting three times the number of starving Brown Pelicans in care, likely due to the lack of prey in the area. [KeysInfo.net]

• A great profile on young birder Logan Kahle, who has set a goal of 460 different species of birds in California this year — only 19 shy of the record. Seeing a rare bird, he tells the San Francisco Chronicle, is “this kind of ecstasy … it’s kind of like winning the lottery.” We agree! [SF Chronicle]

• Our favorite avian video of the week: Via Slate, a wonderful clip of starlings murmuration. [Slate]

• Top tweets of the week:





January 23, 2014

Good Day Sacramento flies by International Bird Rescue

Booby-Good Day Sacramento

Many thanks to Good Day Sacramento’s Courtney Dempsey for stopping by our San Francisco Bay center to check in on the Brown Booby in care — as well as to chat with center manager Michelle Bellizzi about what the public should do if they come across an injured bird or other animal (answer: call 866-WILD-911).

Click on the image above to watch one of the live segments from the morning show on Wednesday, January 22.

Hope to see you again, Courtney!


January 21, 2014

Remembering Molly Richardson

Molly RichardsonOne of our fellow wildlife champions passed over the weekend. Molly Richardson of Native Animal Rescue (NAR) in the Live Oak area of Santa Cruz County died at the age of 85.

Molly was the “patron saint of the county’s sick, injured and abandoned wildlife,” according to an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper.

“A native of India who came to America by way of New Zealand, Richardson settled in Pacific Grove, where she was a school teacher. But her retirement and a move to Live Oak would bring a second career, converting a home into a hub for Native Animal Rescue, a network of big-hearted and often brave volunteers nursing pelicans, song birds, raccoons, possums, bats, foxes and even skunks back to health.”

NAR under Molly’s direction was often the first responder to helping rescue injured and sick Brown Pelicans in the Santa Cruz/Monterey areas. She and her team would stabilize the birds and often arrange transportation to our San Francisco Bay Center.

Thank you, Molly, for giving all animals a much-needed voice in this world. We follow your example every day.

January 18, 2014

Grebe wrapped in fishing line

Photos by Kelly Berry

wegrAnother victim of fishing gear waste: This Western Grebe was recently found beached and wrapped in monofilament line, which causes countless injuries among aquatic birds every year. We’re currently caring for the grebe at our Los Angeles center.

Audubon California describes the problem this way:

Monofilament fishing line is an amazingly strong substance that gets snagged on many things in the environment. Little thought is given to snapping the line when it invariably gets tangled; other than “darn that was my favorite lure”.

Just look around trees and shrubs next to favorite fishing holes and see how much fishing line is strewn on the ground and snagged in the vegetation.

To protect wildlife and the environment, always take all line with you when you leave. Discarded line can snag and harm people and wildlife and kill fish, turtles, frogs, birds and small mammals.


January 18, 2014

Patients of the week: Northern Fulmars

Photo by Isabel Luevano

NOFUOur patients of the week are six Northern Fulmars currently in care at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center — five of which you can see in the photo above, recuperating in an outdoor pool.

These fulmars have been received in the past week from San Francisco, Santa Cruz and the Monterey areas. Upon intake, they were also all found to be emaciated, anemic and dehydrated, but are now feeding well in their outdoor pool.

Last week, we featured on this blog an additional Northern Fulmar that had suffered a fractured clavicle as well as several toe injuries. The clavicle fracture has since healed nicely, and we are currently treating the foot problems while he packs on the calories out in one of our pools.

The Northern Fulmar, a member of the family Procellariidae that includes albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters, is an apt biomonitor for measuring plastic debris in part because it feeds exclusively at sea. One study in 2012 found a staggering 92.5% of the fulmars examined had plastic in their stomachs — detritus from fishing line and Styrofoam to bottle caps and shards of indeterminate origin.

Northern Fulmar at IBR’s San Francisco Bay center in 2013, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

January 17, 2014

A 30-second update on the Brown Booby in care

Many thanks to Isabel Luevano for these video clips!

Check out the original post on this bird here.

Double-crested Cormorant, Brown Pelican and Brown Booby, photo by Isabel Luevano

January 13, 2014

Release! American Wigeon



Last month, this American Wigeon was found on bustling Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles — hardly a suitable habitat for a dabbling duck.

After several weeks in care, we released this wigeon at El Dorado Regional Park in nearby Long Beach. Volunteer photographer Bill Steinkamp was on hand to film the big day.

Related: Patient of the week: American Wigeon

American Wigeon profile on AllAboutBirds.org

Photos and video by Bill Steinkamp

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January 11, 2014

Patient of the week: Common Loon

COLOPhotos by Kelly Berry

This week’s featured patient is a Common Loon at our Los Angeles center, shown here recuperating in an outdoor diving bird pool.

Rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry gives us the backstory of this bird:

This Common Loon was found at 12800 Ventura Blvd in Studio City on December 27 and was admitted into California Wildlife Center, where it was hydrated and stabilized. The loon was transferred to IBR on December 28. After a physical exam, the bird was considered emaciated and mildly dehydrated, and also had a mildly swollen wrist. The loon spent its first night out in the pool on New Year’s Eve and was confirmed waterproof the following day. As you can see here, this bird is currently living in an outdoor diving pool, where it’s self-feeding.

Like other diving birds, Common Loons are susceptible to becoming oiled, whether by natural seepage or human-caused events. That’s what happened to another Common Loon recently in care, one that was washed several weeks ago by our L.A. center team. Check out wash photos here.

Also, this loon is still looking to be adopted! Click here if you’d like to make a symbolic adoption of this beautiful bird.



January 10, 2014

The week in bird news, January 10

Audubon California-Herring Run
Birds take advantage of the annual herring run in the San Francisco Bay, photo via California Audubon’s Audublog

• The annual herring run swims into the San Francisco Bay, delighting birdwatchers and seabirds alike. “We’re the last predators to get a crack at those fish. Everyone else has come to the table, and we get the leftovers,” Nick Sohrakoff, a herring fisherman, tells the San Francisco Chronicle about the herring roe, a delicacy among sushi lovers. “There’s a lot of fish in the bay, and they seem this year to be a little bit bigger than they were in the past few years.”

This abundant run comes just four years after steep declines in herring, which spawns in eco-rich Richardson Bay in Marin County. [San Francisco Chronicle]

And: A great feature on the spawning via Bay Nature, featuring Audubon California’s Anna Weinstein. [Bay Nature]

• Meanwhile, populations of another primary food source for many marine animals has seen troubling declines on the West Coast. Tony Barboza of the Los Angeles Times takes an in-depth look at the West Coast sardine crash — the worst in decades — and its effects on marine mammals and seabirds.

Barboza writes:

The reason for the drop is unclear. Sardine populations are famously volatile, but the decline is the steepest since the collapse of the sardine fishery in the mid-20th century. And their numbers are projected to keep sliding.

One factor is a naturally occurring climate cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which in recent years has brought cold, nutrient-rich water to the West Coast. While those conditions have brought a boom in some species, such as market squid, they have repelled sardines.

If nature is responsible for the decline, history shows the fish will bounce back when ocean conditions improve. But without a full understanding of the causes, the crash is raising alarm. [Los Angeles Times]

• A Brown Booby, a rare vagrant in Northern California and the most high-profile patient thus far in 2014 at International Bird Rescue, gets its close-up in local news. [Daily Republic]

• There have been other Brown Booby vagrant sightings in recent memory, including this very strange case of a booby showing up in Buffalo, NY. [The Buffalo News]

Phalaropus_lobatus• A Red-necked Phalarope fitted with a tracking device has broken the European migration record with a 16,000-mile journey from the U.K.’s Shetland Islands to the Pacific, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reports.

“To think this bird, which is smaller than a starling, can undertake such an arduous journey and return safely to Shetland is truly extraordinary,” said RSPB’s Malcie Smith. “This tiny tracker has provided a valuable piece of the puzzle when building a picture of where phalaropes go when they leave our shores.”

International Bird Rescue has cared for Red-necked Phalaropes at both our California centers. The most recent was this bird, cared at our San Francisco Bay center for a fractured coracoid and released in Marin County. [The Herald – Scotland]

• More coverage on the Snowy Owl “invasion” of the East Coast. [CBS News]

Top tweets:




January 9, 2014

Update on the Brown Booby at our SF Bay center

BRBOOne of the last patients admitted to our San Francisco Bay center in 2013 is this Brown Booby, a very rare visitor to the area. Here’s a video update on its condition during the week of January 6, 2014.

This is the first such case at our SF Bay center, as the Brown Booby’s range is typically well far south: Its permanent range is as far north as the Gulf of California, as shown in a very helpful map by SDakotabirds.com.

On Wednesday, the Brown Booby (we believe it to be female but cannot confirm) was recently featured in Fairfield’s Daily Republic. There have been other Brown Booby vagrant sightings in recent memory, including this very strange case of a booby showing up in Buffalo, NY. And we also cared for a Blue-footed Booby in Los Angeles this past fall, garnering significant media attention.

We’ll post any future updates to this blog.

Brown Booby in care at SF Bay Center
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

January 8, 2014

International Bird Rescue featured on ABC’s Sea Rescue with Sam Champion

Recently, we were proud to be featured on two episodes of Sea Rescue with Sam Champion. If you missed either broadcast, here are the segments via Hulu.

Episode One: Heroic Journeys

Here, the Sea Rescue team takes a look at a January 2013 incident where International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center teamed up with the U.S. Coast Guard to save two gulls entangled together in fishing line and stuck on the mudflats in Vallejo, CA. Our own rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano is featured in this segment.

Episode Two: Trouble in Paradise

In 2007, the Cosco Busan container ship slammed into the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, causing a terrible bunker fuel spill that killed countless seabirds. International Bird Rescue’s Dr. Rebecca Duerr looks back at IBR’s amazing work during this tragic spill.

And be on the lookout for future segments on Sea Rescue featuring International Bird Rescue! You can catch more episodes of the show on Hulu.

January 8, 2014

A Northern Fulmar recovers from clavicle fracture

NOFUWe very rarely receive Northern Fulmars with fractures. A recent exception is this bird found stranded at the Monterey Beach Hotel on December 20. He was transferred to our San Francisco Bay center from our colleagues at Monterey SPCA on December 23.

We found the bird to have a fractured clavicle and several toe injuries. The clavicle fracture has since healed nicely, and we are currently treating the foot problems while he packs on the calories out in one of our pools.

This bird arrived extremely emaciated but has gained a lot of weight while in care. Below are X-rays of his broken clavicle and the bird waking up after anesthesia for foot treatment.

NOFU-Dr Duerr copy
Fulmar photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr

January 6, 2014

Release! Western Grebe and Canada Goose

Grebe IMG_5419-L
Western Grebe photos by Bill Steinkamp

Volunteer photographer Bill Steinkamp recently took these release photos of birds rehabilitated at our Los Angeles center in San Pedro: a Western Grebe and a Canada Goose. A great way to start 2014!

Here, an IBR volunteer releases the Western Grebe at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.

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Grebe IMG_5429-L

This Canada Goose (below) had previously suffered from an impacted esophagus and was captured by Linda Slauson. During the course of its care, the goose gained a full 2,000 grams (About 4 ½ lbs.).

You can see the goose ready for release below (alongside Sheila Callaghan, left, and Jill Brennan), and later jumping back into the water alongside some American Coots and Mallard Ducks, also below, at El Dorado Nature Center in nearby Long Beach, CA.

Goose, Canada IMG_5474-L
Canada Goose photos by Bill Steinkamp

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January 4, 2014

Release! Ruddy Ducks and a Brandt’s Cormorant

Photos by Paul Berry

Among the recent releases by our Los Angeles team: this Ruddy Duck duo as well as a Brandt’s Cormorant, released past the breakwater at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, CA.

Both of these ducks were found “crash-landed” in Los Angeles — one in the Los Feliz neighborhood, the other in Hollywood. Both animals were also placed on antibiotics for toe lesions suffered from being out of the water, and were released when their wounds had healed and they were deemed healthy.


The Brant’s Cormorant shown below came to us from Santa Barbara, where it had been found about 40% oiled and with a thin body condition, rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports. The bird was washed a day following intake, and after several weeks of fattening up and healing required for a small wound, we released the cormorant off Cabrillo Beach.