Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for April 2014

April 29, 2014

Close call for a mother duck and her ducklings

Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

How many baby birds do we have in care right now? A lot.

For instance: By last count at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center, our team was caring for over 70 Mallard Ducklings, as well as baby Black-crowned Night Herons, Green Herons and mergansers. And the numbers continue to climb as orphaned birds are brought to our center from all over Northern California.

All of these baby birds have a story to tell. Here’s just one of them, via rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano:

On Saturday, we received a phone call about a mother Mallard Duck and her eight ducklings, found in downtown Fairfield, CA at a local Sears Auto Shop. The workers there were concerned to see mom and her clutch journeying straight across a busy four-lane boulevard. We’ve seen this scenario before, and it’s always heart-stopping (take, for instance, this now-famous video of a mother and clutch crossing a freeway via CNN).

Animal Control officers jumped in to help along with one of our local volunteers, who had stopped by that area. Together they were able to catch the mother duck and her ducklings.

IMG_8255 2-L

As it happens, this mother Mallard has a federal band on her leg, which we found was put on the bird last year — with the exact same rescue and story. She had tried to take on the busy traffic with her ducklings and was ultimately rescued and relocated then, too. She survived yet another year, only to find herself in the same situation, stuck in the middle of an urban area with ducklings in tow.

Thankfully, the birds were all healthy and relocated to a rural area to complete their journey. Below, a parting shot of their release.




April 28, 2014

An update on “Pink” the pelican

IBR-Pelican Surgery 04282014_2
Dr. Rebecca Duerr with “Pink” during the animal’s first surgery, photos by Bill Steinkamp.

After a week filled with heartbreaking images of our latest animal cruelty patient, we’re pleased to give you some good news today: BRPE

The adult California Brown Pelican mutilated by an unknown suspect has completed a successful first surgery to repair an extensive pouch laceration, one consistent with human-caused injury.

Click here for the backstory on this bird, nicknamed “Pink” for the colored leg band we assigned the animal upon arrival at our Los Angeles center.

On Sunday afternoon, IBR veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr performed the three-hour procedure assisted by Los Angeles center rehabilitation staff. We are hopeful for this bird’s recovery, though multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitative care are needed.

Another bit of good news: the Animal Legal Defense Fund announced today that it has doubled its commitment to a reward in this case, which now totals $10,000 and includes the support of concerned citizens in the Los Angeles area.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) currently is seeking information on this federal crime, which is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and a jail sentence of up to six months. Anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the mutilation of this bird should contact USFWS at 310-328-1516. Tips may be given anonymously.

“In my 40-plus years as a wildlife rehabilitator, I’ve seen too many of these horrible attacks against innocent animals,” said Slashed-pelican-fundInternational Bird Rescue executive director Jay Holcomb. “The public is sick of it too, and we hear their frustration. We as a society cannot and should not tolerate these crimes any longer.”

IBR depends on the support of the public to care for animals injured in cruelty incidents, as well as those harmed by fishing wound and other human-caused injuries. To make a donation, please click on the “Slashed Pelican Fund” image to the right. Thank you so much.

Previous coverage:

“Pink” the pelican, animal cruelty victim

Reward offered: Brown Pelican with severe laceration, suspect sought

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IBR-Pelican Surgery 04282014_1

IBR-Pelican Surgery 04282014_4

IBR-Pelican Surgery 04282014_8

April 26, 2014

“Pink” the Pelican, animal cruelty victim

Pink the Pelican in care at IBR photo

We don’t typically name our patients, but the nickname “Pink” stuck.

Dear Friends,

“Man, that’s so sad. Good luck, little Pink.”

That’s what we overheard a TV news cameraman say on Wednesday while filming a victim of animal cruelty, now recuperating in the aviary at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center. You may have seen stories about this adult Brown Pelican on the news in the past few days. Here’s a recent photo of the bird, shown with a pink plastic leg band.

Though we don’t typically name our patients, the nickname “Pink” has stuck. And you can help Pink get a second chance.

A few days ago, Pink was found in Long Beach, CA with a severe pouch laceration leaving the bird unable to feed. Sadly, the wound is consistent with human-caused injury. It’s the worst deliberate pouch slashing we’ve ever seen.

We’re pleased to let you know that Pink has been able to feed on plenty of sardines over the past few days, thanks to the temporary staples placed in the animal’s pouch wound. On Sunday, our veterinarian will perform the first of what could be multiple surgeries.

pelican slashed pouch

“Pink” may need multiple surgeries to repair a slashed pouch.

When you give to support Pink, you’re not only giving this beautiful pelican a second chance. You’re also helping to support the 200-600 pelicans our L.A. wildlife center cares for each year: oiled, injured and even abused by humans.

We don’t know why someone would do this, but we encourage anyone with information on this attack to call US Fish and Wildlife at 310-328-1516. A $7,500 reward is currently being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this crime. Tips may be given anonymously.

Thank you for your support.

In gratitude,

Team International Bird Rescue

Slashed-pelican-fundP.S. – Please visit birdrescue.org for regular updates on Pink in the coming weeks.

April 25, 2014

The week in bird news, April 25

Pouch IMG_8092-L
Photo by Bill Steinkamp

• The tragic story of a mutilated Brown Pelican now in the expert hands of International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center made waves this week in Southern California and beyond (we’ve seen the story picked up as far as Austria and South Africa).  Read the LA Times’ report here. [Los Angeles Times]Slashed-pelican-fund

Anyone with information that might lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the mutilation of this bird should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at 310-328-1516. Currently there is a $7,500 reward in this case.

Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be following this bird’s journey through rehabilitation. If you’d like to help, you can make a donation at any level by clicking here.

The first of what will likely be multiple surgeries for this bird is scheduled for Sunday.

More media coverage of this case can be found here.

• A Saudi prince is accused of killing an estimated 2,000 endangered Houbara Bustards during a hunting expedition in Pakistan earlier this year. [Huffington post Green]

• Today is World Penguin Day. In celebration of these wonderful birds, NBC News reports on a new program using satellite-Adelie_Penguinenabled cameras to track birds on Antarctica’s Yalour Islands.

“Imagine telling researchers that they don’t have to take a 12-hour flight, then spend eight hours on a boat, and then take a dingy ride to a small island to collect a memory card that might or might not be empty,” Jonathan Pallant, a senior engineer at Cambridge Consultants, who designed the camera, told NBC News. [NBC; Adelie Penguin via Wikimedia Commons]

• In a 198-page report requested by the US Coast Guard and the American Petroleum Institute, scientists conclude that the US is unprepared to handle a spill in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. “It is unlikely that responders could quickly react to an oil spill unless there were improved port and air access, stronger supply chains and increased capacity to handle equipment, supplies and personnel,” the report’s authors wrote. [FuelFix]

• News of the absurd: Turkeys “terrorize” motorists in the Minneapolis area. CBS reports that “two male turkeys weren’t allowing vehicles to pass and were also coming up right to them.” [CBS News]

• Tweets of the week:





April 19, 2014

Reward offered: Brown Pelican with severe pouch laceration, suspect sought


Update, May 1: An anonymous supporter, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with the generous support of individual donors including Lourdes Rivas & Patti Ballaz, have increased the reward to $20,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for this horrific pelican attack. 

Anyone with information that might lead to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at 310-328-1516.

Slashed-pelican-fundYou can make a donation to support the care of this animal by clicking on the pelican image to the right. Mail-in donations can be sent to:

International Bird Rescue
P.O. Box 2171
Long Beach CA 90801

You can also make a donation by phone. Simply call us at 510-289-1472 and we’ll handle your gift right away.

This Brown Pelican with a severe pouch laceration injury was found and captured last week at 5400 Ocean Blvd in Long Beach before transfer to our Los Angeles center. The laceration runs all the way around the pouch, and as a result the pelican was unable to self-feed.

Our center team has placed temporary staples in the pouch to allow the bird to self-feed and stabilize. The bird is currently living in our small aviary awaiting surgery to repair the pouch.

Jay Holcomb, the rescue organization’s director, said fishermen sometimes injure birds because they are falsely seen as competition.

“Pelicans are of no threat to anyone, yet they continue to be mutilated and even killed by people who see them as competition for fish,” Holcomb said in a statement. “The truth is a pelican’s diet is mostly anchovies and sardines – fish that are used as bait by people who fish for sport.”

Reward offered for arrest of pelican abuser, Orange County Register, April 21, 2014

Anyone with information that might lead to the arrest and conviction of person responsible for the mutilation of this bird should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at 310-328-1516. We’ll keep you posted on this bird’s condition.

Read the full press release on this incident here.


Pouch IMG_8092-L

Further reading:

Blue-Banded Pelican Project

April 18, 2014

Patient of the week: Brandt’s Cormorant

Photo by Bill Steinkamp

BRACDo not adjust your screen settings. The bright blue throat patch on this Brandt’s Cormorant is the real deal, and part of the bird’s breeding plumage, which also includes wispy white plumes on its neck as you can see here.

This cormorant didn’t attempt to fly away when picked up by Manhattan Beach Animal Control last Saturday, volunteer coordinator Neil Uelman reports. When it arrived at our Los Angeles center, the bird showed signs of neurological issues and was very unstable when walking or standing.

In recent days, this week’s featured patient has slowly improved and began to self-feed a few nights ago. Our L.A. center has a growing number of seabirds in care; check out the latest tally here.


Further reading:

• Brandt’s Cormorant species profile on AllAboutBirds.org

April 18, 2014

The week in bird news, April 18

Brown Pelican in the 2010 Gulf oil spill, photo by Brian Epstein

• “Active clean-up” of the 2010 Gulf oil spill has ended, nearly four years after the explosion of the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 workers and caused a sea-floor oil gusher that spewed 4.9 million barrels of crude oil before the wellhead was capped on July 15, 2010. Via New York Times:

In a statement, BP said that the Coast Guard ended patrols on Tuesday of the final three miles of affected shoreline in Louisiana.

Still, the Coast Guard stressed that a more narrow cleanup response would continue and that crews would remain on the Gulf Coast to respond to new reports of oil. Teams will be positioned to provide a rapid response when they are needed, the Coast Guard said in a statement on Tuesday night.

International Bird Rescue worked with Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in co-managing oiled bird rehabilitation centers in four states, as part of a large-scale response to the incident that involved federal and state agencies, industry, and non-governmental organizations. You can see photos of the response on our Flickr page. [New York Times]

• A London street artist is painting all of Britain’s unwittingly urbanized birds, including this Chaffinch. [Policy Mic]197b627aa280f98d389e6589072c45c2

• Coveted commercial shipping sea routes in the Arctic that are increasingly ice-free happen to be crucial marine habitat for millions of seabirds, according to a new study published in the journal Diversity and Distributions. [Alaska Dispatch]

• Earth Day is next week! To honor the upcoming day, our friends at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium have a wonderful event planned this Saturday, the Earth Day Fair and Coastal Bird Fest. [CabrilloMarineAquarium.org]

• Landfill on the high seas: Why is the ocean filled with trash? [NBC News]

• In a brilliant program combining conservation, citizen science and metadata (used for non-nefarious purposes, for once), the Nature Conservancy-backed BirdReturns program pays farmers in the Central California valley to keep rice fields flooded for the welfare of Dunlins and other migratory shorebirds suffering as the result of the state’s epic drought.

“It’s a new ‘Moneyball,’” said Eric Hallstein, a Nature Conservancy economist, referring to the movie about the Oakland Athletics’ data-driven approach to baseball. “We’re disrupting the conservation industry by taking a new kind of data, crunching it differently and contracting differently.” [New York Times]

Tweets of the week:




April 18, 2014

A Red-breasted Merganser at our SF Bay center

Red-breasted Merganser # 14-0243 in care at SF Bay Center
Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

RBMEThis female Red-breasted Merganser was found at Main Beach in Santa Cruz on April 6 and was transported to us via our wildlife partners at Native Animal Rescue on Saturday.

Upon intake, she was found to be emaciated with poor feather quality, and was suffering from toe abrasions, a likely result of being out of water for multiple days, rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano reports. She also lacked crucial waterproofing and was determined to be contaminated from fish oil and feces.

The merganser received a quick wash on Monday and is now acclimating to an outdoor pool, where she’s gaining wait and eating plenty of fish.

Red-breasted Mergansers are one of three species of mergansers in North America. Known for their thin, serrated bills to catch fish prey, Red-breasted Mergansers are “bold world traveler[s], plying icy waters where usually only scoters and eiders dare to tread,” 10,000 Birds notes. “While all mergansers are swift fliers, the Red-breast holds the avian record for fastest level-flight at 100 mph.”

Red-breasted Merganser # 14-0243 in care at SF Bay Center

April 15, 2014

Contaminated pelican the latest among string of oiled birds at Los Angeles center

BRPE Oiled 3-L
Photos by Kelly Berry

BRPEOur Los Angeles team has been dealing with an array of oiled aquatic birds in recent days, from Common Murres to a very large Common Loon. And now, this Brown Pelican, brought to us 100% oiled by a contaminant with the consistency of motor oil.

Rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports that the adult female was found on April 10 at Faria Beach near Ventura and Santa Barbara, CA. The bird was initially taken to Santa Barbara Wildlife, which then transferred this patient to us.

Thankfully, the pelican was thermo-regulating and self-feeding upon arrival at our center. “After a full day of supportive care and a physical exam, the bird was deemed healthy enough for a wash,” Berry says. “It was washed today, and under all that oil was a beautiful adult female pelican! She ended the evening assist-feeding sardines.”

We’ll post updates on this patient once she graduates to an outdoor enclosure. Below are photos of the bird pre-wash, during-wash and after-wash. (What a difference, indeed.)

BRPE Oiled 2-L

Oiled BRPE 5-L

BRPE Oiled 6-X2

BRPE Oiled 8-L

Pelican Partners

Further reading on Brown Pelicans:

Species profile on All About Birds

Keeping watch over brown pelicans, International Bird Rescue blog

Plight of the pelican, Los Angeles Times

Blue-Banded Pelican Project


April 12, 2014

Patient of the week: Common Loon

Loon, Common IMG_0444-M
Photos by Bill Steinkamp

Our patient of the week is this stunning Common Loon in breeding plumage, currently in care at our Los Angeles center.COLO

On April 7, the bird was found oiled and beached along Refugio Beach in Lompoc, CA and was immediately transferred to our wildlife partners in Santa Barbara. A day later, the loon was transported to our Los Angeles center, which currently has a wide array of diving birds in care, from Eared Grebes to Common Murres.

Volunteer and outreach coordinator Neil Uelman says it’s a very large loon as well, weighing in at 3,296 grams, or about 7.5 pounds. The loon was about 50% oiled upon intake; we’ll keep you posted on its condition.

Like other diving birds, Common Loons are susceptible to becoming oiled, whether by natural seepage or human-caused events.Check out wash photos here of another oiled Common Loon cared for in the last year by our L.A. center team.

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

Loon, Common IMG_0408-L

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

April 8, 2014

Ducklings at our wildlife centers

Mallard Ducklings in care at SF Bay Center

With the arrival of the year’s first ducklings, baby bird season is upon us again, and we need your help.

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Landscaped yards, road medians and industrial landscaping have replaced many natural nesting areas for waterfowl. After their eggs hatch, ducks and geese walk their young to the water facing man-made obstacles such as storm drains, fences, cars, pets and people. Hazards like these leave hundreds of wild ducklings and goslings orphaned each year, and International Bird Rescue is honored to take responsibility for their care and subsequent release. But we can’t do it alone.

Volunteer coordinator and ace photographer Cheryl Reynolds snapped a few photos of our recent arrivals. Enjoy! (And adopt!)

It is the generosity of donors like you that makes this life-saving work possible.

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Mallard Ducklings in care at SF Bay Center

Mallard Ducklings in care at SF Bay Center

April 7, 2014

Orphan season: Green Heron

Green-Heron1 GRHE
Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Over the past week, both International Bird Rescue’s wildlife centers in California received orphaned baby birds.

Our Los Angeles center is caring for four orphaned ducklings, while our San Francisco Bay center has Canada goslings, Mallard ducklings and a Green Heron, shown above being fed via puppet surrogate. This patient was found in Discovery Bay, CA with injuries, and re-nesting was unfortunately not an option.

The heron is currently in an incubator within the center’s ICU, which is kept at a very warm temperature. During clinic hours, you can catch him/her on our live BirdCam.

Baby Green Heron Adoption

April 5, 2014

Patient of the week: Canvasback

Photo by Isabel LuevanoCANV

Remarkable healing is commonplace at our wildlife centers. Case in point: this male Canvasback at our San Francisco Bay center. He arrived with severe hock lesions, as well as a broken toe.

For weeks, you may have seen this diving duck on our live BirdCam, wearing a waterproof “shoe” to protect the healing fracture while he comingled with grebes and a Bufflehead.

Despite these severe injuries, the Canvasback has done extremely well in care, and we’re optimistic about eventual release.

April 4, 2014

The week in marine news, April 4

Matagorda Island cleanupTask force members remove oil-contaminated sand from the beach on Matagorda Island, Texas, March 30, 2014. Photo via U.S. Coast Guard

Hundreds of dead, oiled birds continue to be found on the Texas Gulf Coast following an oil spill near Galveston late last month. The Texas Tribune reports that as of yesterday, 329 oiled birds had been found from Galveston Bay to North Padre Island over 200 miles south.

“A lot of these shorebird species are not doing well to begin with, and we keep chipping away at their populations,” said David Newstead, a research scientist at the Corpus Christi-based nonprofit Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program. “At some point, they won’t be able to recover from repeat insult.” [Texas Tribune]

• For the first time in centuries, the endangered Nēnē returns to the Hawaiian island of Oahu. [Atlantic Cities]

• A $21,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals responsible for the shooting of three male otters found dead last fall at Asilomar State Beach in Northern California. [Huffington Post]

• A new study shows that dolphins are in poor health following the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. [NOAA Response and Restoration Blog]

Migratory birds flying in Japan’s coastal waters are being surveyed for possible contamination resulting from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. [Earthweek]

Tweets of the week:





April 3, 2014

Flying practice for pelican Red #308

Brown Pelican (red band) in care at SF Bay Center
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Recently, we wrote about pelican conservation on the Pacific Coast in this Los Angeles Times op-ed. The star of the piece was Brown Pelican Red #308, who came to us several months ago with a severe injury to his left patagium (a fold of skin on the leading edge of the wing) caused by an embedded fishing hook.

After months of care, our team is giving him regular flying workouts in the pelican aviary, and with each pass, he’s getting stronger. It’s a remarkable testament to the resiliency of this iconic species.

Cheryl Reynolds recently took these snapshots of the pelican testing his wings out in the aviary.

Brown Pelican (red band) in care at SF Bay Center

Brown Pelican (red band) in care at SF Bay Center