Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for November 2015

November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks


Dear Friends and Bird Allies,

This morning, our dedicated team in both wildlife centers are busily working to feed and care for our resident wild birds. In wildlife rehabilitation, there are no holidays! The work of cleaning pools and enclosures, medicating birds, changing bandages, and feeding these hungry patients continues 365 days a year. Our team of staff and volunteers will be headed home in the afternoon to celebrate with their families.

As 2015 approaches its end, please consider making a year-end gift to support International Bird Rescue. We depend on the generosity of wildlife lovers like you. And your contribution is tax-deductible. With your support, we have had a record year and we are now raising funds for a big year of new developments, including exciting new research into the care of seabirds and the completion of a state-of-the-art aviary for herons and egrets in our San Francisco Bay facility.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!




JD Bergeron
Executive Director

Photo by Sara Silver


November 25, 2015

Patient of the Week: Heermann’s Gull


Photo Heermann's Gull hook removal at International Bird Rescue

A large fishing hook was removed from the stomach of a Heermann’s Gull (above) at International Bird Rescue. The gull is now in an outside aviary and is expected to fully recover. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds and Isabel Leuvano

A Heermann’s Gull is resting comfortably this week after our team removed a huge fishing hook that was lodged in the seabird’s stomach. It also had serious wounds at the corners of the mouth from the fishing line causing tissue damage.

Bird Rescue’s skillful veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, removed the hook at the San Francisco Bay Center. Post surgery, this bird has bounced back astonishingly well. The bird is already flying around our large aviary very enthusiastically, and the wounds are starting to heal.

The injured bird was found on November 8th in Santa Cruz and taken to Native Animal Rescue (NAR). It was transferred to Bird Rescue on November 14th.

A high number of seabirds enter our clinics each year with fishing tackle injuries. We encourage folks fishing to clean up after themselves. Hungry birds will eat fish scraps and embedded hooks are a big cause of injuries.

Heermann’s Gull (Larus heermanni) is a gray-bodied, white-headed gull that breeds in Mexico – mainly on Isla Rasa in the Gulf of California. It flies north along the Pacific Coast to southwest part of British Columbia. It’s a pretty aggressive gull and will chase other seabirds, especially Brown Pelicans, hoping to steal food.

These are your seabirds, too. Support their care: http://www.bird-rescue.org/donate


X-ray shows hook lodged in stomach area of a Heermann’s Gull.

November 20, 2015

Banded Bird Sighting: P63 Brown Pelican spotted in Oregon

Photo Pelican plunge diving

Spotted plunge diving in Oregon, P63 banded Brown Pelican, was originally released in Sausalito, CA in June 2014. Photo by Dwight Porter

We take a lot of pride in our bird-banding program — especially when we get reports on birds sighted hundreds of miles from their release point.

A case in point is P63, a female hatch-year Brown Pelican. P63 was found stranded in June 2014 in Santa Cruz and treated at our San Francisco Bay Center for emaciation, hypothermia, anemia, and miscellaneous minor injuries.

Once P63 was well, she was blue-banded as part of our bird-banding program and released at Fort Baker in Sausalito on July 3, 2014. She was first sighted on March 7, 2015, in Morro Bay, and then again on October 22 while plunge diving in Netarts Bay, Oregon—about 700 miles from her initial release location. We extend our thanks to Dwight Porter of Portland, one of our citizen scientists, who reported his sighting of P63 on our online reporting site and gave us some great photos.

International Bird Rescue puts specific color markers on the bands placed on certain species of birds (as do many other organizations) to aid in the identification of the birds’ band ID numbers. If you spot a bird with a band and/or a color marker, please report your sighting here: http://www.bird-rescue.org/contact/found-a-bird/reporting-a-banded-bird.aspx


November 19, 2015

Researchers: Saving Oiled Seabirds Is Effective Long-term

Photo of Little Blue Penguins Rena Spill Response in New Zealand

New research out of New Zealand is helping underscore what we’ve always believed: Saving oiled birds and returning them to the wild healthy and clean is not just well meaning but worth the effort.

Release of 60 Little Blue penguins at Mt Maunganui beach following Rena Oil Spill. Photo by Graeme Brown

Release of 60 Little Blue penguins at Mt Maunganui beach following Rena Oil Spill. Photo by Graeme Brown

Researchers from Massey University’s studied Little Blue Penguins (in photo above) following the 2011 Rena oil spill in the Bay of Plenty. They found both rehabilitated and non-rehabilitated birds were behaving similarly – diving to similar depths and in similar locations. They also analyzed the carbon and nitrogen levels in the birds’ feathers and able to show the penguins were feeding on similar prey.

Scientists evaluated the foraging behavior of eight cleaned birds using tracking devices and then compared it to the behavior of six unaffected birds.

The study was published this month in the Marine Pollution Bulletin. See the Massey University report

Bird Rescue sent a oiled wildlife response team to New Zealand in October 2011 after the 775 ft (236 m) cargo ship, MV Rena, ran aground on a charted reef off the North Island port of Tauranga. 300 metric tons of Fuel oil leaked from the ship and caused New Zealand’s worst environmental disaster. Read more

November 18, 2015

Patient of the Week: Black Oystercatcher


The Black Oystercatcher chick that we raised from a hatchling at our Northern California center has been named Ash (Hebrew for “happy”) by our summer interns Mari, Ioana, Brittany, and Julie.

Graphic on Black Oystercatcher by International Bird RescueWith its new name, Ash has been transferred from San Francisco Bay Center to the Los Angeles Center in preparation for placement soon in the shorebird sanctuary at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

This bird was not able to be released because it was unable to learn the basics of taking care of itself in the wild.

The orphaned oystercatcher was captured at Natural Bridges beach in Santa Cruz, CA on August 7, 2015 by our friends at Native Animal Rescue (NAR). It arrived weighing 23 grams on August 9th. In the photo below, the newly arrived hatchling munches on mussels. The bird was then featured then as Patient of the Week.

Please join us in wishing Ash a happy life in her new home!

Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Photo of Black Oystercatcher hatchling at International Bird Rescue

November 6, 2015

Patient of the Week: Red-throated Loon


This lucky loon recently made an unscheduled emergency landing on a Long Beach Airport runway. The Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) is now in care at our Los Angeles Center in San Pedro.

The bird was found and captured at the busy airport on October 21, 2015. It was reported by airport workers to be dazed and confused. Upon intake the bird was given a full exam and and was found to be severely emaciated with some minor toe abrasions.

Since arrival 15 days ago, the hungry loon has gained 200 grams. Its now living full time in one our pelagic pools and eating lots of fish. This bird is very active in the pool diving a lot as well as vocalizing.

Red-throated Loons is among the smallest and lightest of loons. Its breeding plumage is more blackish-brown and includes a striking deep red throat. In non-breeding plumage (current patient), it is mainly light gray with a speckle of white.

In North America, this loon species winters along both coasts – ranging as far south as the Baja California Peninsula and the Gulf of California in northwestern Mexico. In other parts of the world, its known as the Red-throated Diver.

Photo by Jeanette Bates – International Bird Rescue


November 3, 2015

Sea Rescue TV: Refugio Oil Spill Episode

Sea Rescue TV has a new episode out on the wildlife response during the Refugio pipeline oil spill that hit the coast along Santa Barbara County in May 2015.

The piece captures the dedicated team helping care for and clean about 50 Brown Pelicans. All the effected seabirds were brought to our center in San Pedro, CA. Our staff and volunteers joined other Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) responders during this event.

Some of the rehabilitated pelicans were released with special satellite transmitters that help track the seabirds’ location. You can see their whereabouts via this interactive map and read about the innovative program.


Read more about the spill here