Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for June 2018

June 30, 2018

The Release Files: More Brown Pelicans Return to the Wild

On a bright, sunny, morning with the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop, seven Brown Pelicans were returned to Northern California waters. The pelicans were nursed back to health after arriving sick and starving at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center. The release included some older birds that received care for fishing line injuries. All were returned to the wild with the help of our volunteers at Fort Baker in Sausalito, CA.

The seabirds were among 88 brown pelicans that have flooded our two California wildlife centers since late April. They were found weak, hungry, cold, and unable to fly at parks and beaches as far south as Monterey, California. One pelican was even rescued in front of a coffee shop in downtown San Francisco.

The public was instrumental in helping these birds in need. They alerted local animal control officials that scooped up the lethargic, wide-winged seabirds. Many went the extra mile to assist these iconic coastal birds.

Four of the seven Brown Pelicans get ready to fly off into San Francisco Bay. Photo courtesy of Paul Alber

“We want to thank Frank from Crows Nest, South Carolina, who found a sick and weak pelican with a severe wing injury while in Santa Cruz and took action that ultimately saved its life,” said JD Bergeron, executive director. “At Bird Rescue, we are inspired by people like Frank who take action to help wildlife in crisis.”

“We send our deepest thanks to all the people who first saw these birds in trouble, to those who helped capture and bring them to our center, to the staff and volunteers who fed and medicated them, to the donors who helped pay for fish and veterinary care. I am so inspired by the village of caring people who step up to protect nature.”

The cause of the grounding of these sick and starving birds is still unknown, but we suspect that changing ocean conditions, including warming water temperatures and the lack of available fish, are main factors.

Each of these pelicans received two leg bands: One federal and one special Bird Rescue Blue-band. They include X59, X60, X61, X62, X63, X64, and X65.

Blue-banded California Brown Pelican Program

The California Brown Pelican represents a species of special interest to Bird Rescue. These birds continue to face many challenges including oil spills, fishing tackle entanglements, prey shortages, and climate change.

To help us track this iconic seabird, each one of the Brown Pelicans we release receives a large, blue, plastic leg-band bearing easily readable white numbers. Bird Rescue started banding its rehabilitated Brown Pelicans back in 2009 when these seabirds were de-listed from the endangered species list. With the help of citizen scientists, the blue-banded pelicans spotted in the wild can be reported on online: https://www.bird-rescue.org/contact/found-a-bird/reporting-a-banded-bird.aspx

How You Can Help

Bird Rescue continues to ask for the public’s help in caring for these brown pelicans in need. Donations can be made online at www.birdrescue.org or mailed to the center directly. We encourage anyone who spots a sick or injured pelican to call their local animal control or contact us directly at 707-207-0380.

International Bird Rescue – San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center
4369 Cordelia Road
Fairfield, California 94534

Media stories

San Francisco Chronicle: Injured, starving pelicans are rehabilitated, freed on San Francisco Bay shoreline

Fairfield Daily Republic: Brown pelicans – nursed back to health – return to wild

As the media records the event, rescued Brown Pelicans were returned to nature at Fort Baker near the Golden Gate Bride. Photo courtesy of Paul Alber

June 27, 2018

Bird Rescue Remains On-Call in the Wake of Two Major Oil Spills

Within the past week, there have been two notable oil spills impacting the world. In Rotterdam, Netherlands, hundreds of swans and other birds were oiled when 7,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil spilled into the harbor. Closer to home in Doon, Iowa, a train derailment leaked 230,000 gallons of oil into the Rock River. Both spills are categorized as “Tier 2” events, meaning that response officials are utilizing not only local responders but also national resources and response teams.

With 47 years of experience in oil spill response, we are eager to bring our skills to the scene and we stand prepared at a moment’s notice. Having handled a very similar situation to the Rotterdam spill in 2006, involving large numbers of swans at the Tallinn (Estonia) Oil Spill, we are on alert to offer our services and experience if and when it is needed. With close to 1,000 birds currently affected by the spill, we are currently in regular contact with the officials in the Netherlands and ready to activate when the call is made by on-scene officials.

Quick action is key to a successful wildlife response. With three crisis response hospitals and a fully trained team of staff and volunteers, International Bird Rescue is prepared and ready to respond to an oil spill 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our 45+ years of specialized experience in rescuing and caring for oiled wildlife has made International Bird Rescue a global leader in oil spill response, training, and preparedness. Even while caring for the over 300 rehabilitating birds currently in care, we are ready to take action – helping to do our part to make our global waters a safer place for waterbirds in crisis.

To read more about the spill in Rotterdam, click here. To learn more about the spill in Iowa, click here. To stay up-to-date on Bird Rescue’s involvement with these spills – watch out for updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

June 15, 2018

Summer “Drill Season” In High Gear

 

Founded in the wake of one of the most significant spills in California history, International Bird Rescue has been an integral part of global oil spill response for the past 47 years. To-date we’ve responded to over 225 oiled wildlife responses throughout the world. Spill response preparedness has remained a core mission of Bird Rescue since our inception. While emergencies may not arise every day, being prepared for them is a huge part of the work that goes into any sort of emergency response work, including oil spills.

To optimally prepare for an oil spill emergency, trustees, emergency responders, oil producers, and shippers all get together periodically to review their response plans and execute drill exercises. During drills, spill personnel and equipment is put to the test by “responding” to hypothetical spill scenarios just as they would in the event of an actual spill. The summer and spring months are a very busy time of year for these events, and we are often invited to participate in multiple drills throughout the season.

International Bird Rescue strongly supports these drill exercises and is happy to provide a voice for wildlife amongst all of the other players at the table in these large-scale operations. We use these opportunities to learn, network, and educate other emergency response participants about the wildlife operations that occur during a spill.

In May, Board Member Ron Morris participated in a tabletop drill in Washington State.  The spill scenario occurred in the waters of Puget Sound, and Ron acted as the Deputy Wildlife Branch Director. As the former Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) for Spill Responses with the U.S. Coast Guard, Ron is well acquainted with processes of responding to a large-scale spill. When asked why he supports these collaborative drills, Ron spoke to what an excellent opportunity these drills are for working with and meeting fellow responders and gaining experience in new skillsets. “You don’t fail these things.” Ron proclaimed, “They are always an opportunity to learn.”

To learn more about our work in oil spill response, see our website.

 

June 13, 2018

The Release Files: Rescued Young Pelicans Get a Second Chance

Healthy young Brown Pelicans released at Whites Point in San Pedro. Photos by Angie Trumbo

A beautiful day for a release! Three rehabilitated Brown Pelicans took to the skies and joined a flock of local pelicans as they returned to the wild Wednesday afternoon. The healthy seabirds were released at Whites Point in San Pedro after a month in Bird Rescue care.

The opening paragraph in the Associated Press story by John Rogers captured it best:

“Birds gotta fly, and to the delight of dozens of people gathered above a rock-strewn Southern California beach, that’s exactly what a trio of Brown Pelicans did when their cages were opened.”

Concern for ailing Brown Pelicans that live along the coast of California has been mounting the past few months. Since late April at least 80 sick and dying birds came into Bird Rescue’s two California wildlife centers. The first and second year Brown Pelicans admitted show signs of emaciation, hypothermia, and anemia.

Two of three pelicans released Wednesday.

Some of these cases, such as the two pelicans that crash-landed in the middle of a Pepperdine University graduation ceremony,  garnered media attention. Many more sick birds have been found grounded on LAX airport runways, on city streets, and in people’s yards.

It’s still a mystery what’s causing these birds to crash land. It could be the challenges of warmer ocean waters that chase the pelicans fish stocks to deeper, unreachable waters. What we do know is that these young seabirds need immediate care.

With the quick action of the public and local animal control agencies, ailing pelicans can be stabilized, hydrated and fed. After a month or more of care, more will return to their familiar coastal waters where hopefully they will find food and thrive in the wild.

Thanks to all the local folks that came out to cheer on these second chance pelicans. And thanks to our donors whose support makes it possible to give mother nature a little TLC!

Taking to the skies, youthful pelicans spread their wings after release.

June 3, 2018

2017 Annual Report On The Way

Keep your eyes peeled for Bird Rescue’s 2017 Annual Report! You’ll have an opportunity to read about the most influential recent events, track our financials, read about the work of our wonderful staff and volunteers, and learn more about our vision for the future of Bird Rescue. The report will be published soon on our website and elsewhere, available to everyone.  Announcements about the expected release date to come.

Every year since our inception in 1971, International Bird Rescue has worked nonstop to remain on the cutting edge of oiled wildlife rehab and recovery. Because we specialize in aquatic birds we have the privilege of caring for some of the most mysterious and difficult species to rehabilitate such as grebes, loons, pelicans, surf scoters and more.

Each year presents challenges for us to conquer on behalf of the birds and the wild environments they call home. In our 2017 Annual Report, read more about some of the most compelling events presented to us in our recent past, such as the East Bay Mystery Spill, the Refugio Spill, and others. See how frequently we remove fish hooks and fishing line from our birds in care, and about other human impacts, we work to reverse, beyond oil spills, every day.

Learn about our financials, and about how we remain lean and efficient in order to get more work done. See how our history informs our future plans and get a peek into the direction Bird Rescue intends to take in 2018 and beyond. Read about our amazing staff and volunteers and enjoy our spectacular photography that illustrates the birds themselves, the reason behind all our efforts.

We’ll be announcing the release date and will be keeping you informed about how you can access the report and learn about every aspect of our work and about what we can all do for the future of the birds!

June 1, 2018

Rescuer’s Perspective – Katie Mcafee

Between both our Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife centers, International Bird Rescue helps to save the lives of thousands of birds each year. Our specialized rehabilitation clinics are open 365 days a year and staffed with an incredible team of technicians, volunteers, center managers, and one resident Veterinarian. While we are grateful to this incredible group of people for the work that they do, almost all of the day-to-day rescues that we see would NOT be possible without the personal action of the many kind-hearted rescuers that bring birds to our centers every day. It is for this reason that we value the perspective and motivation behind the many rescues that these everyday heroes take the time to make. Today’s rescuer’s perspective focuses on Katie Mcafee who took matters into her own hands when she saw an abandoned group of baby ducklings on the side of a busy highway after their mother had been struck by a car.

It was a typical day for Katie as she was driving home from work on Highway 37, not far from our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center in Fairfield, California. As she was preparing to exit the busy highway, she noticed a dead female Mallard on the side of the road, with a cluster of baby ducklings standing close by. She steered the car to the side of the road, and successfully coerced the young ducklings into her care. She then brought them to the center and shared her tale of saving the young bird’s lives.

When asked why she did what she did, Katie described the experience as “just knowing in my gut that I had to do something.” Katie mentioned that she drives highway 37 regularly, and often sees dead animals on the side of the road. Parts of highway 37 are active wildlife habitat, and as a result, many animals suffer a sad fate. Katie said that it felt good to actually be able to help the ducklings after seeing so many animals on the same road that could not be saved.

Katie is a prime example of the type of rescuer that we see come through our doors all of the time at the center. A nature enthusiast, who notices the disparity in the natural world, and wants to do something to help. When we asked Katie how she felt after doing her very good deed, she replied saying that she left the center with a sense of fulfillment and excitement after being able to help the young birds. Thank you, Katie, for helping the birds, and for joining us in our mission to do our part every day, to protect the natural world!