Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for February 2016

February 26, 2016

Patient of the Week: Canada Gosling

Our first baby bird of the season — a Canada gosling — is also our patient of the week!

Found earlier this month on the grounds of the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, CA, the gosling was then delivered to our friends at Lindsay Wildlife and, 10 days later, transferred to our San Francisco Bay center.

The gosling is growing quickly: it weighed 98g at rescue, and its weight is now 354g and climbing!

This week we received two more orphaned goslings and all the birds are sharing quarters in a duckling box at our center.

A Canada Goose typically lays a clutch of five to seven white eggs, although clutches can range from as few as two to as many as 12. Newly hatched goslings look a lot like ducklings with their yellowish gray feathers and dark bill. By nine to ten weeks, however, they have turned gray and grown their flight feathers.

We treat hundreds of goslings and ducklings each year at both our California centers. This year is starting off with a beauty!

 

February 22, 2016

New Oiled Birds Tied To Old Sunken Ship Still Leaking Off San Francisco

Oiled Red-necked Grebe

Oiled Red-necked Grebe in care. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds

Oiled seabirds recently cared for by International Bird Rescue have been conclusively traced back to a leaking cargo ship that sunk off the coast of California more than 60 years ago.

Since December of 2015, Bird Rescue’s wildlife center in Fairfield has cared for nine oiled birds including a Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Western Grebe, and six Common Murres. All the birds were rescued along beaches in San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.

“International Bird Rescue exists to help mitigate human impacts on birds, and the Luckenbach unfortunately is a huge human mistake that continues to taint these beautiful seabirds,” said JD Bergeron, Executive Director. “We will continue to use our 45 years of experience to wash and rehabilitate contaminated wildlife, to train others to do so, to innovate with care options. Ultimately, this whole effort is to get more of these birds back to the wild.”

To date, three birds have been released, two are still in care, and the four remaining have died. A Red-necked Grebe was one of those released. Here is description of the steps to recovery: http://blog.bird-rescue.org/index.php/2016/02/patient-of-the-week-red-necked-grebe/.

Feather samples from the oiled birds sent to a California state lab confirmed that the oil came from the S.S. Jacob Luckenbach that sank in 180 feet of water on July 14, 1953 about 17 miles west-southwest of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. This cargo vessel was loaded with 457,000 gallons of bunker fuel. It has been leaking sporadically over the years – especially during winter months when strong currents bring oil to the ocean’s surface.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) announced these findings late last week.

Luckenbach sank 17 miles off San Francisco coast in 1953 and has been leaking oil ever since.

Luckenbach sank 17 miles off San Francisco coast in 1953 and has been leaking oil ever since.

In early 2002, oil associated with several “mystery spills” was first linked to the Luckenbach. These included the Point Reyes Tarball Incidents of winter 1997-1998 and the San Mateo Mystery Spill of 2001-2002.

Over the years, Bird Rescue estimates it has treated thousands of “mystery spill” birds.

“Bird Rescue has shouldered much of the cost of caring for these oiled birds, going back many years.” said Bergeron. “The oceans are becoming less and less hospitable for birds and other marine wildlife, even without these toxins. We step up to help because we believe every bird matters, and we’re grateful for the incredible community support we get.”

By September 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard and the trustees removed more than 100,000 gallons of the fuel oil from the vessel and sealed the remaining oil inside the vessel – including some 29,000 gallons that was inaccessible to be pumped out of the ship’s tanks.

What to do if you observe oiled wildlife

Anyone observing oiled wildlife should not approach or touch the animals. Please report the exact location and condition of the animal to Oiled Wildlife Care Network at (877) 823-6926.

How oil affects birds

When oil sticks to a bird’s feathers, it causes them to mat and separate, impairing waterproofing and exposing the animal’s sensitive skin to extremes in temperature. This can result in hypothermia, meaning the bird becomes cold, or hyperthermia, which results in overheating. Instinctively, the bird tries to get the oil off its feathers by preening, which results in the animal ingesting the oil and causing severe damage to its internal organs. In this emergency situation, the focus on preening overrides all other natural behaviors, including evading predators and feeding, making the bird vulnerable to secondary health problems such as severe weight loss, anemia and dehydration.

Resources

http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/maritime/expeditions/luckenbach.html

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/OSPR/NRDA/Jacob-Luckenbach

Red-necked Grebe preens its feathers after being washed of oil. Photo Cheryl Reynolds

Red-necked Grebe preens its feathers after being washed of oil. Photo Cheryl Reynolds

February 16, 2016

Patient of the Week: Red-necked Grebe

An oiled Red-necked Grebe is our patient of the week. This grebe whose temporary tag was “Red-33” came into the center with oil contamination on December 18, 2015. He was stabilized, washed, then treated for foot injuries likely caused by beaching when the oil removed his waterproofing.

After nearly 2 months in care, he was returned to the wild on February 10, 2016.

Here’s the steps to recovery:

Intake

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe at International Bird Rescue

When this bird arrived, you could barely recognize what species he was due to the heavy contamination with oil. Every oiled bird receives a thorough examination upon intake in order to assess related injuries such as skin burns, foot and toe damage, and emaciation.

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe feathers at International Bird Rescue

While examining an oiled bird, Bird Rescue staff assess the extent of contamination and collect oiled feather samples for use by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oil Spill Response and Prevention office.

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe toes at International Bird Rescue

Grebe feet are among the most beautiful of bird feet, with their lobed toes. They are unfortunately also among the most delicate. An oiled bird will often be forced to beach itself because its feathers no longer retain waterproofing or heat. Within a very short time, these delicate toes can become damaged by sand and rough surfaces. This damage can be nearly impossible to undo if the bird does not come into care quickly enough.

 After stabilization and wash

Photo of Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

After stabilization, the bird goes through the wash process. This photo was taken right after the wash process. The grebe is preening and bathing to get its feathers back in order, a very good sign!

 Preening is cleaning

Photo of preening Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

Preening activities immediately after the wash ensure that the bird is doing its part to maintain waterproofing.

Ready for release

Photo of Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

Success is a fully waterproof grebe with healthy feet and a little extra weight on it to ease the transition back into the wild and the renewed search for its own food! Thanks to everyone who helped this bird with direct care or a donation!!

Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

 

February 8, 2016

Patient of the Week: California Gull

This California Gull came to our Los Angeles center this week after being hit by a car in Carson, CA. The impact resulted in compound fractures (see x-ray) of both the radius and ulna in the left wing.

Our veternarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr DVM, pinned the bones back together and the patient is now in a recovery cage.

First on the gull’s to-do list after surgery? Fluff and preen those feathers to cover the wrap as neatly as possible. Second? Maybe think about the fish in the dish (once sure no fingers are available).

Go little gull!

Photos by Rebecca Duerr

X-ray-CA-Gull-2-2016

February 1, 2016

Patient of the Week: Great Egret Tangles With Octopus

After treatment a lucky Great Egret recuperates at the Los Angeles center.

After treatment for a octopus bite, a lucky Great Egret recuperates at the Los Angeles center. Photo by IBR

This is the story of a Great Egret, an octopus, and a Good Samaritan.

Earlier this week, we received a new patient—a Great Egret who had suffered significant trauma to his left leg. We have, of course, seen a lot of birds with injured legs before; but what was different about this patient was how he’d sustained his injuries.

It seems the bird had an “altercation” with an octopus in view of a man who was fishing along the shore in San Pedro, California. When the fisherman realized that the bird and the octopus were entangled in a deadly struggle, he came to the rescue to separate the combatants. Despite the aggravated octopus turning his ire to the egret’s rescuer, the fisherman was ultimately able to bring the injured egret to us at our Los Angeles center.

Fortunately, the egret is now recovering. Octopuses have a toxin in their bite, and this bird has lacerations to its thigh, hock and foot joints where this could be a factor. Initial inflammation at the wounds is decreasing and the bird is standing and eating, but is having some trouble positioning his foot without a supportive wrap. Currently we aren’t certain if this is due to the lacerations or due to neurotoxin in the octopus’ bite.

We’ll never know which animal instigated the conflict, but we have hopes this egret will make it to release and have another go at having octopus for lunch!

The leg wound oin the Great Egret was treated and then vet wrapped to help heal. Photos by IBR

The leg wound on the Great Egret was treated and then vet wrapped to help heal. Photos by IBR