Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for August 2017

August 26, 2017

Rehabilitated Brown Pelican ‘E17’ Spotted in Mexico with Chicks

We’ve got some exciting news to share!

One of the blue-banded Brown Pelicans we released seven years ago was spotted with nestlings in Mexico. This is the first confirmed sighting of one of International Bird Rescue’s rehabilitated pelicans on a nest with offspring. It inspires us with hope and underscores our belief that wildlife rehabilitation efforts can make a difference, especially with a species that was recently delisted from the endangered species list.

“This sighting of E17 is confirmation of our work,” said JD Bergeron, Executive Director. “To see a former patient rejoining the breeding population is an encouraging sign of the success of our efforts, and a reminder of the importance of wildlife rehabilitation.”

Though the organization has been banding birds in collaboration with the USGS Bird Banding Lab for most of its 46 years, it only started using these more visible blue bands in 2009, the same year Brown Pelicans were removed from the Federal Endangered Species List. The blue bands have drastically increased the ability to track rehabilitation success with sightings demonstrating normal foraging, migration and now breeding post-release into the wild. To date more than 1,200 pelicans have been banded with these blue bands.

Brown Pelican ‘E17’ was rehabilitated and banded at Bird Rescues Los Angeles Wildlife Center. Julie Skoglund, Operations Manager, recounts that this pelican in particular was an unusual case in which the flight feathers that support the bird’s ability to fly had been clipped short. The pelican was released in October 2010.

The photo was captured off the coast of Baja California, Mexico, on San Jeronimo Island by Emmanuel Miramontes, a biologist working with a Mexican nonprofit organization GECI A.C. (Group of Ecology and Conservation of Islands). San Jeronimo is more than 300 miles from E17’s release point in San Pedro, CA.

“It’s doubly interesting because this bird is a male, and what Emmanuel has captured is actually a photo of a doting dad,” Bergeron added.

In a world where bad news abounds, we’re happy to report this inspiring story.

Photo courtesy Emmanuel Miramontes, GECI A.C

 

August 24, 2017

The Story of Spot Has A Very Happy Ending!

Photo of Grebe with spot on head

Dear Friend,

The spring and summer months at International Bird Rescue bring new life, and with it a special time of wildlife rescue and care: Baby Bird Season. This year, an exceptional story about one of our smallest patients left its mark upon me.

This is the story of Spot (and it has a happy ending!)

On May 29th, a tiny, orphaned bird with silver down entered our care weighing only 185 grams, which is approximately the weight of just 30 quarters. This baby, shown in the first photo, is a Western Grebe, a kind of diving bird that is equally at home in fresh and salt water. While we never name the wild birds in our care beyond a simple number to track them, we’ll call this adorable fellow “Spot” for the sake of our story.

As they grow, these cute-but-drab babies become elegant adults with a black head and red eyes. Western Grebes live in large flocks, are adept at fishing, and have perhaps the most elaborate breeding ritual of any animal in North America.

But these baby grebes carry an extraordinary trait that has become most meaningful for us at Bird Rescue. As a chick, the Western Grebe has a patch of bare skin on its forehead, which remarkably turns a bright red color when the chick is hungry. Once fed, the “red dot” fades away and will not come back again until the chick is once again hungry.

You can help us save the lives of birds in critical need. Please give today!

The red dot has ultimately become the symbol of our center’s greatest challenge this year: FISH. Fish are the main food staple for most of our patients. In order to tame the red dot on Spot’s forehead, we needed to feed him small amounts of fish every 20-30 minutes at first, and then gradually larger amounts but less frequently as he grew.

We use human-grade fish in order to ensure that our patients have the best possible chance of success, but this also creates serious challenges for our budget. Overfishing and warming ocean waters are leading to challenges in finding affordable, high-quality fish to feed our patients. Bird Rescue’s fish budget has more than doubled this year!

Please join us in providing a basic need: life-supporting food source for the most vulnerable birds that share the environment with you. Your donation today helps bridge the gap!

Not every bird has a red dot to quickly tell us when they need food, but EVERY bird in our care is hungry. The daily and sometimes hourly feeding schedule for our patients, coupled with the high cost of fish, has given Spot’s red dot a special meaning this year, reminding me how hunger is ever present and urgent for all the birds at our clinics; and that is 221 mouths to feed as I write this letter!

If you are reading this note, we know that you already appreciate our work and I’m writing you today to ask for your continuing support by sending us your donation.

$45 is our annual membership dues and it feeds a baby bird like Spot for a month.
$90 will feed two birds for a month.
For $335, you can feed all the birds in our care for an entire day!

Spot’s journey from our smallest patient to full health as a young adult ended in his release back into the wild on July 14th. The second photo shows him majestically transformed into adulthood as he was swimming away to join a group of Western Grebes at Clear Lake in California. Though we may never know his destiny for sure, we let Spot take flight with many hopes for a bright future for him and all the birds. We are so grateful to you for being a supporter of yet another successful bird rescue story!

You can find a video of Spot being fed and the beautiful mating dance of the Western Grebes on our Facebook page where you can follow and like us. To learn more about all of our critical work, please visit our website at www.bird-rescue.org. As always, we stand prepared for wildlife oil spill response AND our door remains open 365 days per year to assure a safe healing place for all birds otherwise in need.

How will you help a bird today?

Warm wishes from all of us at International Bird Rescue,

P.S. Remember to donate a membership for your friend and we will send them a card welcoming them into the International Bird Rescue Family!

August 15, 2017

Patients of the Week: Cackling Geese

This week we’re sharing a story of human accountability and compassion, all to save two young Cackling Geese!

Like a good number of migratory birds, these goslings were born in the tundra on the North Slope of Alaska. They managed to find their way into an enclosed pit on the oil fields there, but were quickly rescued by workers trained by Bird Rescue to stabilize wildlife. The company flew them to us immediately and continues to support their care financially.

International Bird Rescue provides regular training for workers in the oil fields so they can be first responders in case wildlife wander into harm’s way. Our Alaska Wildlife Response Center is based in Anchorage and is funded by partners to be ever-ready in the case of a spill. We also handle small-scale contamination of a few birds at a time. Just last week, we cared for a Lapland Longspur which was contaminated with industrial lubricant. Without intervention, contaminated birds become hypothermic and die, or lose mobility and fall victim to predators. Having trained first responders in these areas where animals and humans are in close proximity greatly enhances chances for survival. This is only possible when the companies involved are committed to doing the right thing. Until the day when we can move beyond dependence on fossil fuels, we are proud to have responsible partners.

These Cackling Geese have been stablized and washed by our experienced team. Shown in the photo to the right is Michelle Bellizzi, Response Services Manager, who has been working for Bird Rescue for 17 years and who is one of our most tireless teammates when the birds’ needs are not yet met. The expression on her face says it all!

The birds are clean and should be able to return to the wild in the coming weeks to rejoin other Cackling Geese during migration.

Yum…Cackling Goose salad!

Behold the yummy greens, waterfowl feed, and mealworms that make a nutritious meal for our three goslings.

Usually, we need to raise funds to cover the costs for caring for birds, but our partners in Alaska are paying the full bill for these birds that were contaminated on their premises. We do however need to pay for additional updates to our facility, and we could use your support! To donate to our Alaska facility readiness, please click here and indicate “Alaska” in the donation comments. Thank you!

Photo credits: Barbara Callahan, International Bird Rescue

 

August 6, 2017

Photo of the Week: “Tugboat” Baby Common Murre

A Facebook followers recently wrote in to ask about the little bird shaped “like a tugboat” on our San Francisco Bay BirdCam. The photo above shows a baby Common Murre that was found in a paper bag at the community center near Stinson Beach.

“Tugboat” weighed only 90 grams on July 25th when he was transferred by our friends at WildCare to Bird Rescue’s SF Bay Wildlife Center. He has a fractured humerus, likely sustained when he leapt from his nest on a cliff though he is quite small to have made this big leap.

Common Murres are cliff nesters and the babies take a leap into the ocean with their dad when it’s time to head for safer waters. Sometimes called “Pacific Penguins” for their resemblance to that family of birds, murres are in reality more closely related to gulls and terns.

This species has had a rough time in the past few years, including a mass stranding and starvation event in the fall of 2015 which brought more than 500 of them to our center. It is thought that ocean warming and climate change are causing traditional food sources to be less available, leaving molting adults and chicks especially vulnerable since they cannot dive as deep or relocate to better feeding grounds.

Tugboat had his daily exam a few days ago and he has more than doubled in weight in just ten days! Murres in care will eat their body weight of fish in a sitting, so this little fellow will eat 200 grams of capelin (4-5 fish) in a day. We especially enjoy these birds as patients because adults will readily take on a surrogate chick, as shown in the photo on the right.

Photo credits: Cheryl Reynolds, International Bird Rescue