Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for March 2016

March 30, 2016

Release Files: A Tale of Two Pelicans

Brown Pelicans N32 and N33 about to take off after being released at White's Point.

Brown Pelicans N32 and N33 about to take off after being released at White’s Point by Dr. Rebecca Duerr.

The tale of two recent pelican patients gives you a peek in to International Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation program:

A female Brown Pelican N33 was rescued in San Pedro, CA with a large neck abscess, likely caused by a fish hook. The infection wrapped around the back of her neck, digging deep into her neck muscles. Our veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr, anesthetized her to remove all the necrotic (dead) material from the abscess, and the wound required several weeks of intensive wound management by our LA center staff.

See the before and after images (below) – warning: the ‘before’ picture is a bit graphic! But these are the sort of wounds we successfully treat every day. We are very happy to report that the wound healed beautifully, and she was ready to be released with her aviary buddy N32.

The next Brown Pelican N32 entered care June 14, 2015 after being found on the streets of Long Beach by LB Animal Control. After a full examination, we determined she was suffering from a facial neuropathy. She had little to no control over her lower eyelids, pouch or mandible muscles, showing a floppy pouch, droopy eyelids, and the inability to fully close her mouth. We knew we couldn’t release a Brown Pelican who was unable to control her mouth – to catch dinner, they have to hit the water mouth first at high speed!

The cause of the pelican’s problem remains unknown but we suspect a toxin of some kind, such as from some species of marine algae. Improvement was very slow but steady, and it took lots of time and patience until she regained the ability to control those areas of her body. After nine months in care we determined she had fully recovered and was ready to go!

Both birds were released March 14, 2016 at White’s Point in San Pedro and flew off strongly. They circled around their caregivers a few times before landing one on the reef and one on the water offshore.

Please support Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation programs. With your generous gift we can continue to treat each pelican with the medical, surgical, and nursing care it needs to have a second chance at a vibrant life in the wild. We love Pelicans!

Brown Pelican N33's nasty neck wound early in treatment.

Brown Pelican N33’s nasty neck wound early in treatment.

Brown Pelican N33's healed neck wound just before she was released.

Brown Pelican N33’s healed neck wound just before she was released.

March 22, 2016

Patient of the Week: Great Blue Heron

GRBE-Avairy-wing-wrap-2016-redWe get a lot of birds with broken wing bones into our wildlife centers each year. This latest patient is a Great Blue Heron that was found in Milpitas, CA with a fracture of radius and ulna (see x-ray). Great Blue Herons are among our most challenging patients because of their size and intense skittishness. In fact, we have to keep them in quiet isolation as best we can because they can become spooked easily and harm themselves by bumping against the sides of their enclosure.

This week our dedicated staff and veterinarian at our San Francisco Bay center may “pin” the fracture soon to aid in the healing of this majestic heron. Right now, the bird is doing well with its purple wing wrap and it has a healthy appetite.

The Great Blue Heron is the largest North American heron with a wingspan of 66-79 in (167-201 cm) and a height of 45-54 (115–138 cm).

Great Blues, like many herons, were hunted to near extinction in the last century for their gorgeous blue-gray plumes. Today, they are a species of Least Concern but of special concern to us as rehabbers. Thanks for all of your support which allows us to be of service to these gentle giants. More info

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Photo by Jennifer Linander

March 17, 2016

Patient of the Week: Brown Pelican with severe pouch laceration

Photo of Brown Pelican with torn pouch in care at International Bird Rescue

This Brown Pelican was rescued in San Pedro with a large piece missing from its front pouch. Photo: Doug Carter

Surgery of torn Pelican pouch

Delicate surgery was required to repair torn pouch. Photo: Bill Steinkamp

It may be gull month but we, of course, have had a ton of other animals needing help come our way!

Brown Pelican “Red-111” (temporary band #) came to our Los Angeles wildlife center with an unusual and severe pouch laceration – not as large as Pink the Pelican’s tear but much more difficult to repair. A large piece of the front of the pouch was ripped off the bird’s jaw, leaving a great big hole and the pouch piece hanging like what some people mistook for a fish.

“Pelicans are good at healing mild damage to their pouches, but if they can’t eat they can’t heal,” said Dr. Rebecca Duerr, staff veterinarian,

Unfortunately, the ripped piece was dying, so Dr. Duerr had to remove it, then take a big tuck and sew the opposite side across the gap. It took about 150 stitches to sew the pouch. She is hoping the bird’s pouch will stretch with time now that it has mostly healed and he’s outside in the aviary.

In the meanwhile, he can enjoy the menu and fly around the large flight aviary.

Photo of pelican pouch surgery at International Bird Rescue

Pelican under anesthesia just before surgery to repair torn pouch. Photo: Bill Steinkamp

BRPE-pouch-ps-flight-avairy-2016

After surgery pelican takes flight in the 100-foot aviary at our Los Angeles center in San Pedro. Photo: Doug Carter