Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for May 2014

May 31, 2014

Pink the Pelican scheduled for release

IBR-Pink, Post Surgery
Photos by Bill Steinkamp

Good news!

“Pink,” a California Brown Pelican who made national headlines after being found with a near-severed throat pouch caused by an unknown assailant, has made a truly remarkable recovery at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center and is scheduled for a June 3 release. Here’s the scheduled release information for this public event:

When: Tuesday, June 3 at 12:30 P.M.

Where: White Point Park in San Pedro CA. Address: Kay Fiorentino Drive, San Pedro, CA 90731 (see map below).

Nicknamed for the color of the bird’s temporary leg band worn while in care at IBR, Pink was found with a mutilated pouch over six weeks ago by Long Beach Animal Control officers. Unable to feed, the bird was extremely thin, anemic and could not fly when brought to IBR.

“Despite the vicious attack against this pelican, Pink brought out the best in wildlife lovers all over the country, who supported and rallied behind the bird’s care and recovery,” said IBR executive director Jay Holcomb. “Though we still don’t know who committed this criminal act, we’re thrilled to release a strong and healthy Pink, one of hundreds of pelicans we care for every year.”

IBR-Pelican Surgery 04282014_9

Pink the Pelican, prior to surgery to repair a slashed pouch

During the past year, pelican pouch slashings perpetrated by humans have been seen in California, Florida and North Carolina. Pink’s pouch laceration required hundreds of stitches during two operations lasting a total of six hours.

“Over the course of treatment, I’ve seen Pink transform from weak and sad to feisty and voracious,” said IBR staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr, who has performed nearly 100 pelican pouch surgeries in her career. “Despite having the largest pouch laceration I’ve ever seen, he did great during post-operative care and has healed in record time.”

IBR is extremely grateful for support from the Port of Long Beach for Pink, whose care was also aided by donations from the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, Terranea Resort and bird lovers in Southern California and beyond. The Animal Legal Defense Fund assisted IBR with communicating this animal cruelty story to the public.


Pink’s recovery was made possible by IBR animal care staff, who performed regular exams on the bird and provided extensive rehabilitative and supportive care.


May 30, 2014

The week in bird news, May 30


• The U.S. Corps of Engineers will recommend a $1 billion (that’s with a B) plan to restore the Los Angeles River, a vital waterway of the L.A. basin that’s been largely entombed in concrete for decades. The multifaceted plan would “restore habitat, widen the river, create wetlands and provide access points and bike trails along an 11-mile stretch north of downtown through Elysian Park,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

City officials are laudatory of the plan. “I was tenacious about this — it’s a big win for the city,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told the Times. “As I argued in the White House over and over, it’s the right thing for the ecology, it’s the right thing for the economy and for kids growing up being separated from downtown by a concrete flood control channel.”

Yellow-eyed_Penguin_MCSnowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Mallard Ducks, Black-necked Stilts and Cinnamon Teals are among the many bird species that call the river home. [Los Angeles Times]

• Do humans need birds to survive? The answer, according to Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Peter Doherty, the answer is an emphatic Yes. Check out his thoughtful oped on the subject. [CNN]

• Conservation advocates in New Zealand issue warnings about the impact of proposed energy exploration in sensitive areas where species such as the Chatham Island Taiko, Yellow-eyed Penguin (pictured above), Wandering Albatross and the New Zealand Fairy Tern call home. [Xinhua]

• Millions of birds are hit by cars each year, more than any other human activity, according to a new report in The Journal of Wildlife Management. [USA Today]

• Via Spain, the latest on the effects of plastic ingestion in seabirds. In this case, the wonderful Yelkouan and Balearic Shearwaters. [Nature News Network]

Tweets of the week:





May 30, 2014

Patients of the week: Feeding time! Baby American Avocets and Killdeer

Video by Cheryl Reynolds from our San Francisco Bay center.

A few younger patients also can be seen below during feeding time in an incubator, photo by Suzi Eszterhas.

Avocet chick (3-4 days old) International Bird Rescue, Fairfield, CA

Click here to check out the Orphaned Baby Bird Fund!

May 29, 2014

Strengthening our Future: 2013 Annual Report

Dear Bird Lovers,

It’s my distinct pleasure to release International Bird Rescue’s annual report, a comprehensive look at our 2013 calendar year achievements that span the IBR mission: oil spill response, wildlife rehabilitation, innovative research and outreach to the communities we serve.

Download the 2013 Annual Report here (7.1 MB).

We’re extremely proud to have improved IBR’s financial outlook in 2013. A surplus in operating revenue helped us to shore up a 2012 deficit, while our strategic moves to cut administrative expenses and expand oiled wildlife response work to Canada (where it’s greatly needed) gave us new opportunities to strengthen IBR’s financial future.

But we’ve not stopped for a moment to rest. This year, we’ve seen an extremely busy season at both of our California wildlife centers, commanding additional staff and resources to carry out the Every Bird Matters pledge.

In 2014, we’ve also undertaken required improvements to our Alaska operations with a new Alaska Wildlife Response Center in Anchorage. This is a significant investment, but one critical to oiled bird response in the pristine Alaskan environment that we serve. As the world goes to greater lengths for energy extraction, IBR’s work has never been more important.

And your support of us has never been more needed. We thank all our members for ensuring that injured, oiled, abused and orphaned wild birds get the care they deserve from the world’s experts.

Killdeer-Suzi Eszterhas

Baby Killdeer, photo by Suzi Eszterhas


Jay Holcomb-Signature
Jay Holcomb

P.S. – As of this week, our centers are caring for over 300 birds, many of which are orphans. These are extremely busy days for our staff, who raise ducklings, goslings, killdeer, avocets and more. You can support their care through our Orphaned Baby Bird Fund!

May 28, 2014

Rehabilitated Snowy Egrets settle into San Francisco Bay

DSCN6157 IBR SNEG Attending 3 Babes-1
Photos by Cindy Margulis

Golden Gate Audubon Society executive director Cindy Margulis recently sent us these photos of a Snowy Egret with a red leg band (and several hungry babies) at the Alameda Bay Farm Colony in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band indicates that this bird was a former patient of our San Francisco Bay center in Fairfield, CA.

Margulis notes that she has seen as many as four red-banded egrets at this location thus far in 2014 — birds that likely were released at the nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park, about two miles away.

“They learned the location, most likely, from following the foraging adult Snowy Egrets in the MLK marsh, once they were released,” Margulis says. “Then, after surviving to reach breeding age, they knew just where to start their own families!”

It’s always a thrill to see the birds we care for become a part of the breeding population. Thanks for sending, Cindy!

Meanwhile, our San Francisco Bay center currently is caring for 16 Snowy Egrets. Check out the species in our care here.


May 27, 2014

“Pink” shows off a gorgeous pouch

nk 051614revPink (foreground) shows off a mended pouch alongside a fellow pelican. Photo by Dave Weeshoff

Thanks to the work of our amazing veterinarian and rehabilitation staff, Pink the Pelican’s once-slashed throat pouch is but a distant memory. This adult California Brown Pelican is doing extremely well, and we look forward to releasing Pink soon! Stay tuned.

May 23, 2014

Letter from South Africa: “The Jay Holcomb Wash ‘n Rinse Bay”

Jay Halcomb_Plaque

How sweet is this?

Our friends at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) recently dedicated their wash and rinse station for oiled birds to our fearless leader, Jay Holcomb. Here’s their letter on Jay’s lifetime of efforts to save oiled wildlife:


Dear Jay,

In honour of your legendary contribution towards saving seabirds, we would like to bestow the title of SANCCOB PATRON on you.

Your connection to South African seabirds goes back to the early days of 1994, when you were stuck washing fish buckets in the early days! In your very special way, your influence changed the way in which we in South Africa approach spills and deal with oiled seabirds.

Thank you, Jay, for the generosity with which you have shared lessons with SANCCOB over the years, for your continued support of our team, and for your dedication to seabirds, who in the end, are the recipients of your kindness, your passion and your knowledge.

SANCCOB is proud to acknowledge your contribution and to erect a plaque in your honour, so that from now on when our team is washing and rinsing oiled birds you will be watching over them.

The Jay Holcomb Wash and Rinse Bay
In honour of Jay Holcomb
A legend amongst Oiled Wildlife Responders

For your dedication and your passion to save seabirds

With sincere appreciation for a job well done!
Signed on behalf of the SANCCOB team,

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Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 5.49.57 PM


May 17, 2014

Save the date! Alex and Ani is throwing a charity event for us on June 5…

Click invite to enlarge

Our friends at Alex and Ani in the San Francisco Bay Area saw the recent baby heron story, as well as news about the sheer number of baby animals in our care, and knew they wanted to help.

On Thursday, June 5, Alex and Ani’s new Emeryville location will be hosting a Charity by Design event with proceeds benefiting International Bird Rescue. Stop by and say hi! There will be plenty of lite bites, refreshments and great info on what we do to save wildlife. 15% of all sales will go directly to benefit our efforts.

See you there!

View Larger Map

May 16, 2014

The week in bird news, May 16

BCNH-Leah Mills
Baby Black-crowned Night Herons in International Bird Rescue’s care. Photo by Leah Mills,
© San Francisco Chronicle.

• The San Francisco Chronicle pays a visit to International Bird Rescue’s SF Bay center, where we recently met Ernesto Pulido, a tree-trimming business proprietor who has offered to support the care of baby Black-crowned Night Herons who fell from their nests and were injured in a incident in Oakland, CA. We were impressed by Pulido’s compassion, as well as his willingness to take responsibility for the incident and to do what he can to right the situation.

Writes Carolyn Jones of the Chronicle: “Pulido, a Bay Point resident, offered to pay $2,700 toward the birds’ care: the $2,200 he earned from the U.S. Postal Service for the tree-trimming job plus an additional $500. He’s already paid the $500 and is awaiting payment from the post office to pay the rest …

“But that wasn’t enough for Pulido. He wanted to learn more about night herons, what the center does to save them and what the public can do to help.” [San Francisco Chronicle]

• Ted Williams with Audubon Magazine writes on the plight of the Brown Pelican. [Yale Environment 360]

• This may be one of the most important news stories of the 21st century. Scientists have concluded that a large section of western13icenew-articleLarge Antarctica ice sheet has begun to thin and retreat, which could inexorably accelerate the rise in sea level by as much as 10 feet in the coming centuries.

“This is really happening,” Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said in an interview. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.” [New York Times]

• Today is Endangered Species Day. We are currently taking care of one species considered threatened in the state of California: A baby Black Rail, which fell victim to a cat attack. This animal is very secretive and tiny, so we have not yet taken a photograph as we do not want to stress the rail. We’ll post a photo when we feel confident that taking an image of the bird will not affect its rehabilitation.

• The LA Times gives an update on “Pink the Pelican,” who is doing extremely well after two surgeries to repair a human-inflicted pouch laceration. [Los Angeles Times]

• A bill to ban single-use plastic bags in California moves forward in the state assembly. [Los Angeles Times]

• Domoic Acid, a huge problem for seabirds as a result of toxic algae blooms, is taking its toll on marine mammals along the Pacific Coast. [Time]

• Solved? The mystery behind the evolution of flightless birds. [Daily Mail]

Tweets of the week:




May 14, 2014

Pink’s pouch progress: Remarkable healing now underway!

Pink-Dr Rebecca Duerr2
Photos by Dr. Rebecca Duerr

With their fossil record existence dating back at least 30 million years, Brown Pelicans are strong and resilient animals. For proof, look no further than to the story BRPEof “Pink.”

As you may have read, our Los Angeles center received an adult California Brown Pelican, now nicknamed Pink, in mid-April with a severe pouch laceration consistent with a human-caused injury. A $20,000 reward remains on the table for anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this illegal act (tips can be given to U.S. Fish & Wildlife at 310-238-1416).

Brown Pelicans depend on their throat pouches to catch fish. But those spectacular plunge-diving displays were impossible for Pink, who came to us cold, anemic, extremely thin and too weak to fly. Temporary surgical skin staples were placed to hold the pouch together so that Pink could eat.

After a week in the care of our wildlife rehabilitation team, Pink gained enough strength to withstand the lengthy surgeries needed to repair this wound.

Assisted by center staff, International Bird Rescue staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr performed two surgeries on Pink, each lasting three hours and requiring hundreds of sutures.

Which brings us to the good news: The sutures have been removed, and we’re pleased to report that both sides of the pouch are healing remarkably well, and no further surgery is needed.

“Barring complications,” Dr. Duerr notes, “I’d like the bird to stay happily eating in the aviary for a little while longer in order for the newly repaired skin to mature and strengthen before it has to hit the ocean at high speed in a plunge dive. So far, so good.”

Pink-Dr Rebecca Duerr1

May 10, 2014

In Los Angeles, another oiled pelican joins the ranks of patients in care

BRPEOiled pelican in Malibu, photo by Blake Krikorian

A third oiled Brown Pelican in as many weeks has been transferred to our Los Angeles center. Malibu resident Blake Krikorian captured the heavily oiled animal on Saturday and brought it to our rehabilitation partners at California Wildlife Center, who then arranged for transport to our center.

You would never know it from the capture photo, but this is another adult bird — the wash photos below show the pelican’s white head.

We are pleased to report that Wednesday’s wash of the animal went extremely well; this pelican is on track to join “Pink” and other adult birds sharing an outdoor aviary as they recover from different injuries.

photo 4

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

May 10, 2014

Patient of the week: Red-necked Phalarope

photo copy-L
RNPHPhoto by Kelly Berry

This Red-necked Phalarope in breeding plumage was found a week ago on Terminal Island, CA walking around and, according to its rescuer, very easy to catch.

Upon an intake exam at our Los Angeles center, the bird was found to be thin with a small wound on its chest, and was only observed to have mild stumbling in its enclosure, rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports. We aged this patient as an after-hatch-year bird (sex undetermined).

The phalarope currently is in the waterproofing stage of rehabilitation and is receiving antibiotics for the chest wound.

By contrast, below is a photo of a Red-necked Phalarope in winter plumage (this animal was cared for at our San Francisco Bay center last year).

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

May 9, 2014

Director’s note on the Oakland heron incident



We appreciate all the support of the community over the past several days regarding the incident at a heron rookery in Oakland, CA, and we understand the outrage that many are feeling.

International Bird Rescue (IBR) wants everyone to know that the proprietor of the tree-trimming business has committed to funding the care of the five chicks that were rescued from that location — one of which required surgery by our veterinarian to repair a fractured mandible. The investigation in this case will be handled by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which has jurisdiction over migratory bird issues.

Since this story broke, we’ve seen reports in the media that the tree-trimming business proprietor and his family have been the targets of severe harassment. I want to make it clear that we at IBR strongly condemn any harassment or threats against this individual and his family. We ask that all concerned citizens allow this case to be handled by the authorities and refrain from any retaliatory behavior.

In the meantime, we are directing all our energy into the care and treatment of these wonderful animals. IBR will continue to post updates on the birds and this case as it progresses. You can watch some of these birds on our live BirdCam.

How can you help? These five birds are just a fraction of the total baby birds in care at our wildlife centers. You can support this lifesaving care here.

Thank you,

Jay Holcomb-Signature

Jay Holcomb

May 7, 2014

Baby herons survive woodchipper incident in Oakland

Some of the young Black-crowned Night-Herons rescued from the incident. Photo by Isabel Luevano

A grisly scene emerged out of the San Francisco Bay Area when tree trimmers in Oakland recently were allegedly caught feeding downed branches full of Black-crowned Night-Heron nests and chicks directly into a woodchipper. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Officials at the downtown post office ordered nearby trees trimmed Saturday because nesting birds were defecating on the mail trucks.

The result, witnesses said, was a feathery massacre that ended with nests – and baby birds – fed through a wood chipper, hysterical neighbors protesting in the street, and a call to Oakland police officers, who ordered the trimmers to stop.

Now, state and federal wildlife officials are investigating the matter, because the nest destruction and bird deaths may have violated the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“I’m devastated. That someone could do that without even looking to see if there are nests, could have so little empathy … it’s heart wrenching,” said Stephanie Benavidez, Oakland’s supervising naturalist. “The public was incensed, rightfully.” [Read the full story here.]

Residents in the neighborhood brought surviving chicks into the care of wildlife rehabilitators. The five saved babies were tile_sponsorultimately transferred to our San Francisco Bay center in Fairfield, where they’re currently being taken care of in a warm incubator. In addition to scrapes and bruises on the birds, one orphan underwent surgery to repair a fractured mandible.

We’ll keep you posted on this story as well as the condition of the birds.

May 6, 2014

This Mother’s Day, send a “duckling-gram” adoption e-certificate!


The “duckling-gram” adoption e-certificate for Mother’s Day

Dear Bird Lovers,

Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday, May 11. If you haven’t yet found that perfect gift, we’ve got one here for you!

We’ve received literally hundreds of orphaned ducklings this spring at our wildlife centers. Why not symbolically adopt two in honor or in memory of Mom?

It’s simple. Click on the “duckling-gram” above (or click here) to make your Mother’s Day special adoption (the suggested adoption is $35).

Our design team will custom tailor your duckling duo e-certificate with your special message, and we’ll send to Mom’s email inbox within 24 hours of your donation (including Mother’s Day on Sunday).

We can also create a memorial e-certificate celebrating Mom’s spirit and send to you via email. Custom certificates are perfect for full-page printing.

Your adoption gift will help care for two ducklings as well as the hundreds of baby birds we care for each spring.

And please tell a friend about this special by forwarding this email to animal lovers in your life!

In gratitude,

Team International Bird Rescue

PS-You can check out baby birds in care live on our BirdCam, streaming in real-time from International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center.