Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

January 24, 2016

Patients of the Week: Common Murres, once oiled now cleaned

COMU-four-after-cleaning

Cleaned of oil, Common Murres spend time in pelagic pools before being released from our San Francisco Bay center.

This week our patients of the week are oiled Common Murres. A handful of these seabirds from the Monterey/Santa Cruz area have been rescued and transported to the San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield.

The birds are coming with light to heavy oiling on their undersides. The petroleum source has yet to be identified.

Oiled-Murre-intake-web

Common Murre during intake is photographed to document oiling. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

To clean the murres, our center staff and volunteers use a combination of methyl soyate (a methyl ester derived from soybean oil), DAWN dishwashing liquid, and high pressure shower wash to remove the oil from their feathers. After spending time regaining their natural water-proofing, the healthy murres are usually released into San Francisco Bay at Fort Baker near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Common Murres are diving birds that nest on high cliffs and spend most of their lives on the open water. The public will often spot these oiled birds along beaches at the tide line. At this point these birds are cold, hungry and tired from trying to preen the oil out of their feathers.

This species is has a hard time in past years with chronic oiling along the California coast from Santa Barbara to Northern California. Also a murre stranding was documented earlier this year from the central coast to Alaska. Thousands of birds are being affected and many ended up at our center in the fall of 2015.

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