Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for July 2015

July 28, 2015

The Weekly Bittern #2: COME and go HOME

Dear Friends of International Bird Rescue–

Did you see Jurassic World yet? In the film, there are four Velociraptors that are shown as fast and savage hunters. Allow me to introduce International Bird Rescue’s very Common Merganser chicks in care at SF Bay Center 7/16/15own “Velociraptors”–a set of four baby Common Mergansers that clearly demonstrated in their feeding habits how they are descended from the dinosaurs! Over the past couple of weeks, I liked watching them during feedings as they swam along the surface with their heads submerged to find the minnows below, then darted underwater to torpedo at one or a few.

According to our friends at AllAboutBirds.org by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
Common Mergansers are streamlined ducks that float gracefully down small rivers or shallow shorelines. The males are striking with clean white bodies, dark green heads, and a slender, serrated red bill. The elegant gray-bodied females have rich, cinnamon heads with a short crest. In summer, look for them leading ducklings from eddy to eddy along streams or standing on a flat rock in the middle of the current. These large ducks nest in hollow trees; in winter they form flocks on larger bodies of water.

These orphans arrived from San Jose and Sonoma in May and spent the last 2-1/2 months in the capable care of our SF Bay Wildlife Center in Fairfield. I am happy to announce that all four were released at the American River in Sacramento last Friday. We were happy to be able to stablize these orphans and raise them to strong sub-adults that were able to be successfully released to their new home.

Common Mergansers are abbreviated as “COME” using the first two letters of each word, hence the title of this post. You can support Mergansers and other interesting diving ducks with a donation at www.bird-rescue.org/donate.

We love to hear from you, so please get in touch with your questions about Common Mergansers. We’ll post our replies on our Facebook page.

Be well,





JD Bergeron
Executive Director

Video credit: Jen Linander
Photo credit: Cheryl Reynolds

July 25, 2015

Patient of the Week: Goose With Severe Fishing Line Injury

Canada Goose before having neck strangling fishing line removed.

Anesthetized Canada Goose prior to removal of strangulating fishing line.


After removal of fishing line from Goose’s neck. Photos by Rebecca Duerr – International Bird Rescue

On Wednesday this week our Los Angeles clinic admitted a patient with a severe fishing line injury.

This Canada Goose was rescued by the staff at El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach. When it arrived at our Los Angeles wildlife center we found thick wads of monofilament line constricting both legs, with yet more line around its neck. Fortunately, the leg injuries appeared mild, compared to other cases like this we have treated, but the neck wounds were very bad and warranted immediate surgery.


This wound shows the seriousness that birds face with discarded fishing line.

Our staff immediately anesthetized the bird to remove the line from the neck. Under the line, our staff veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, found deep lacerations encircling the whole neck. The damage was limited to the skin. Thankfully, the esophagus and trachea appeared undamaged. She removed some areas of dead skin and sutured the skin back together.

Donate-button-Make-GiftThe bird had obviously been trying to eat since its esophagus was packed with a hard dry ball of green grass that it couldn’t swallow.

We have hopes this goose will make a full recovery. Meanwhile our staff will provide supportive care and pain relief until the neck swelling resolves and the bird fully gets the hang of swallowing again.

Many thanks to El Dorado staff for their prompt rescue of this bird!

Please help wildlife by discarding fishing line in appropriate containers, and picking up any stray line you see that others have left. Animals like this goose thank you

If you would like to support the care of this wild bird, you can donate online now


July 16, 2015

The Weekly Bittern

Dear supporters of International Bird Rescue,

Pelican Release in San Pedro, CA.

Pelican Release in San Pedro, CA.

Tuesday marked the end of my first week as Executive Director, and what a week it has been!

For my first few days, I had the privilege of being among the incredibly capable team at our southern facility, the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care Center. Led by Operations Manager Julie Skoglund and Center Manager Kelly Berry, the team worked tirelessly to welcome Ian Somerhalder and our partners from Dawn dish detergent as we joined forces to celebrate our many superb volunteers, without whom none of this work with injured and orphaned birds would be possible. Thank you, IBR Volunteers and Interns, for your dedication! Please stop by and say hi when you get a chance. I’d like to meet each of you.

Two orphaned Pied-Billed Grebes are fed every half-hour and cuddle with a feather duster

Two orphaned Pied-Billed Grebes are fed every half-hour and cuddle with a feather duster.

The culmination of the event was the release of three Brown Pelicans and a Western Gull that had finished their rehabilitation and were ready for their return to the wild. I can say firsthand that this is a deeply moving experience, especially as I was given the honor of opening one of the cages. I released the Brown Pelican at the far right of the photo, who I have nicknamed N-20 for the blue band which will be used to track her progress in the future. We invite you to participate by using our citizen scientist reporting tool to document sightings of any blue banded pelican. This information is vital to our ongoing research. I’ll personally be watching closely for news of N-20, N-18, and X-01!

Over the weekend, I was able to meet the equally amazing team of our northern facility, International Bird Rescue – San Francisco Bay. Led by Center Manager Michelle Bellizzi, the northern center is currently working on a massive number of orphaned baby birds, including Green Heron, Snowy Egrets, Black-crowned Night Heron, Pied-Billed Grebes, Western Gulls, Pelagic Cormorants, Brandt’s Cormorants, Common Mergansers, and Mallards.

At both facilities, I have also had the privilege of watching our very talented Veterinarian and Research Director, Rebecca Duerr DVM MPVM PhD, as she administered pelicans, gulls, egrets, and more.

On Wednesday morning at Fort Baker, we also released a Double-Crested Cormorant and another Brown Pelican, the latter of which had been in our care for a full year after devastating damage to her wing and feathers. I’ll share more info on this bird, blue band X-01, next week.

Barbara Callahan, Director of Response Services and Interim Director for the last year, and JD Bergeron, incoming Executive Director.

Barbara Callahan, Director of Response Services and Interim Director for the last year, and JD Bergeron, incoming Executive Director.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not send out special thanks to IBR’s Response Services Director, Barbara Callahan, who has served as Interim Director for the past year. Barbara has led the team through a challenging year and has been gracious and generous with her time and knowledge. She is now taking  much-needed rest. Thank you, Barbara!

There are many ways to support IBR:

adopt a bird

become a recurring donor

join as a Pelican Partner


Please also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flicker, and YouTube

I love to hear from you so please get in touch!

Be well,





JD Bergeron
Executive Director


July 7, 2015

Patient of the Week: Mallard With Scalp Laceration And Other Injuries

Mallard right after waking up from scalp surgery.

Female Mallard when she arrived at WildCare with a scalp laceration exposing her skull. Photo by Nat Smith


Mallard right after waking up from scalp surgery.

This female Mallard was transferred to us from our colleagues at WildCare in San Rafael, CA. When she arrived, she had several serious problems: a scalping injury at the base of the upper bill (consistent with being struck by a vehicle), a swollen leg with an infected tendon from a small puncture wound, and a broken wing (ulna).

Her scalp healed flawlessly and you can already see tiny feathers starting to regrow! Her foot infection was successfully treated and we are just waiting for final recovery from the wing fracture before being able to release this resilient bird.

As reported by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California’s Mallard population has declined 27% since 2014, following other declines in recent years.

Read more: How waterfowl species in California are faring during the drought.

– Rebecca Duerr, Staff Veterinarian, International Bird Rescue

Photo: Mallard Duck with her skin totally healed and feathers coming in.

Now with her skin totally healed and feathers coming back in. Photos by Rebecca Duerr – International Bird Rescue