Every Bird Matters
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Archive for December 2018

December 31, 2018

Littlest Brown Pelican Is 2018 Bird of the Year!

We are proud to announce our 2018 Bird of the Year: The Littlest Brown Pelican! With many strong candidates, the race remained close right up to the end, but our little Brown Pelican captured the hearts of many and garnered the most votes.

Her story began when she was rescued out of a backyard pond where she had been found, starving, and trying to feed on koi fish. This little Brown was one of more than 50 hungry Brown Pelicans to come into care at our L.A. wildlife center during the month of May. What set this patient apart from the others was her small size.

Initially weighing in at just under 2500 grams, this tiny pelican quickly became a staff and volunteer favorite, and much care and attention was given to get her feeding on her own. Once she started gaining weight and thermoregulating, we moved her to our large pelican aviary to give her space to stretch her wings and exercise. While there, she spent most of her time at the side of a very large American White Pelican. The two were an odd, but very cute pair.

On June 13th, 2018 this little Brown Pelican returned to her natural home in the wild – an event that was shared with viewers across California on local news stations. She was given a blue band with the numbers N00 at release, so keep an eye out for this little pelican and report any sightings of her or our other blue banded pelicans on our website.

This Little Brown Pelican is a beautiful representative of the difference Bird Rescue can make by being ready to respond to any crisis. Whether it’s a surge of starving birds, a botulism outbreak, or an oil spill, Bird Rescue is here to take action to rescue waterbirds in need. We look forward to continuing to take action for birds in 2019.

If you would like to help us stand at the ready to rescue waterbirds in crisis, consider donating today!

Photos by Angie Trumbo

December 28, 2018

Vet Files: Innovative Treatment Saves Bufflehead With Bill Fractures

Female Bufflehead with multiple fractures of the bill after surgery to place pins and epoxy in place for its fractured mandible. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

Fast-setting epoxy was used to hold six tiny pins placed in both sides of this lady Bufflehead’s jaw. Photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr/International Bird Rescue

Our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, had to think creatively when a female Bufflehead came into care with multiple fractures of the bill. Buffleheads are North America’s smallest diving duck and this one weighed in at only 260g on arrival, making this patient’s injuries particularly difficult to treat.

The bones in her mandibles were very small, so Dr. Duerr decided to miniaturize a technique she had used successfully in the past on bigger bird bills. She placed angled pins into the bill on either side of each fracture through a piece of specialized bandage, which acts as a gasket between bill and epoxy. The pins were then embedded in quick-setting epoxy to hold them in place. Since this Bufflehead’s small bill was broken in so many spots, Dr. Duerr had to use very fine needles as pins and take extreme care when embedding them in epoxy so as to not make the apparatus too heavy for the little bird. It was then a matter of waiting to see how well this duck’s broken bones would heal.

Another big concern for this bird was her species. Buffleheads have very delicate feet that are not built for standing around like a mallard. Their toe skin can easily become damaged by being out of the water, which puts them at risk for tendon and bone problems. For this reason, we typically try to get patients like this one living in the water full time as soon as possible, even though orthopedic pins are not generally advisable to soak in water due to the risk of infection. In balancing the best approach to her recovery we decided her prognosis for a good outcome would be to let her swim in the pool despite the pins in her bill.

The pins holding her mouth together didn’t slow this Bufflehead down one bit! She spent almost two weeks swimming around in one of our outdoor pools, seemingly uninhibited by her unique apparatus. Once the pins were removed, the holes healed up quickly and she was soon ready for release. Thanks to the clever treatment and attentive care she received from the staff and volunteers at Bird Rescue, this resilient little Bufflehead returned to her natural home in the wild, just 26 days after she had been admitted.

After the pins were removed, the holes healed up quickly and the Bufflehead was soon released. Photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr/International Bird Rescue

December 14, 2018

Bird of the Year 2018 – Voting Now Open!

As another eventful year at International Bird Rescue comes to a close, the time has come to reflect on our experiences and accomplishments and select our 2018 Bird of the Year. Each bird that comes through our doors gives us the opportunity to take action, help a creature in need, and oft times learn something new about nature and about ourselves. The six candidates below are patients that were representative of significant events and key aspects of our mission from the past year. Please enjoy reading a bit about each one and if you have a moment, vote for the bird that most inspires you to take action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves.

Vote Here: https://goo.gl/forms/5Ba367n6DUoY176K2

#1 – Camp Fire Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan. Photo by Isabel Luevano

When wildfires tore through California causing devastation to people and wildlife alike, Bird Rescue was able to lend a helping hand when a Tundra Swan was found in crisis near ground zero of the Camp Fire. A local resident delivered the bird to a nearby rescue facility who later transferred the swan to our SF-Bay Delta wildlife center where it could recover in our large pools and waterfowl enclosures. Upon arrival the swan was covered with ash, smelled of smoke, and was suffering from red, irritated eyes due to the smoke and fire. Swans are large and unruly patients, so our staff and volunteers had to put in extra time and work to care for this bird. After two weeks at our facility, the Tundra Swan was healthy and ready for release. Our team picked out a location where a flock of migrating swans had recently been sighted and released the swan to continue on its southward journey for the winter.

#2 – Mara the Murre

Common Murre

Throughout this summer, Bird Rescue received a large influx of young, hungry Common Murres that had been found stranded along Northern California beaches. Among them was a young murre we named “Mara” after the volunteer who rescued her from the shore. Bird Rescue staff and volunteers were all-hands-on-deck for weeks as we strove to keep up with these hungry and growing birds. We were truly inspired by our community of supporters that came together to help fund the care of all these birds in need. After over a month in our care, Mara and dozens of her fellow murres were released back to the wild.


#3 – The Littlest Pelican

Brown Pelican. Photo by Angie Trumbo

California Brown Pelicans caught the attention of national media when two young pelicans crash landed at a Pepperdine graduation ceremony. This was the beginning of a sudden influx of injured and emaciated Brown Pelicans to our two California wildlife centers. One particular young female pelican quickly stole the hearts of our staff and volunteers alike. She was found in a backyard pond attempting to feed on koi fish. Weighing in at just 2480g (~5.5lbs) on arrival, she was by far the smallest pelican that came into care. When she was finally strong enough to move to an outdoor enclosure, she spent all day standing right next to the American White Pelican in care, further accentuating her small size. On June 13th, after gaining over 1000g (2.2lbs), this beautiful little pelican was released back to the wild, to the delight of media and public spectators.

#4 – Baby Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher. Photo by CherylReynolds

In a Bird Rescue first, this baby Belted Kingfisher was raised from a hatchling to release! Having never cared for such a young kingfisher before, our staff had to constantly learn and innovate in order to provide for this unique patient’s needs. A special “burrow” was created using towels to mimic this little one’s natural nest, and volunteers and staff had to disguise themselves as adult Belted Kingfishers at feeding time to prevent the young kingfisher from becoming attached to humans. All of that work paid off as the baby kingfisher grew up healthy and strong and was released after a month in our care.


#5 – Traveling Brown Booby

Brown Booby. Photo by Katrina Plummer

Found looking bedraggled on a beach in Oregon, this adorable Brown Booby made quite the journey to get to our L.A. wildlife center. Our friends at the Oregon Coast Aquarium flew him down to us via Alaska Airlines where he was picked up at LAX by our Center Manager. Our team was delighted to care for this unique patient as he built up weight and strength. After just a couple of weeks, the booby was in great condition and ready to be released. We are so happy to have partners like the Oregon Coast Aquarium who work with us to get birds like this Brown Booby the care they need in the place where they need it.

#6 – Rescued Green Heron

Green Heron. Photo by Katrina Plummer

This young Green Heron exemplifies the good that can happen when just one person takes action. A concerned member of the public found this little heron after it had fallen into a pond. Too young to get out on its own, the bird would have drowned had this gentleman not intervened. He gathered it up and kept the heron safe and warm in proper housing until he was able to bring it to our wildlife center. The little Green Heron was able to grow up alongside several other orphaned herons and egrets and was successfully release back to the wild at the end of September. Every bird that comes into care has a rescuer behind them, and we are so grateful to the individuals who jump into action on behalf of wildlife to get them the help that they need.

Vote Here: https://goo.gl/forms/5Ba367n6DUoY176K2

December 10, 2018

Patient of the Week: Black-crowned Night-Heron

With the fishing hook safely removed, the Black-crowned Night-Heron after recovery will be released back to the wild.

One fishing hook can make dinner miserable for any bird.

This month our veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr performed surgery on a beautiful Black-crowned Night-Heron at our Los Angeles Wildlife Center. The heron had ingested a hook which became lodged in its stomach tissue. During surgery Dr. Duerr created a small incision and was able to carefully remove the hook and stitch up the heron.

The patient is doing well and recuperating in one of our outdoor enclosures. We wish it a swift recovery!

X-ray shows fishing hook in Heron.

Black-crowned Night-Heron recuperating in the outdoor aviary.

December 4, 2018

Safe and Sound: Earthquake Spares Alaska Wildlife Response Center

Our Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC) in Anchorage was mainly unharmed by 7.0 earthquake that struck November 30, 2018. (Photos by Michelle Bellizzi/International Bird Rescue)

Last week’s 7.0 earthquake in Alaska is a reminder for all of us to be as prepared as we can be for any emergency.

Broken glass on a framed poster.

While the city of Anchorage was waking up on the dark, frosty morning of Friday, November 30th, the area experienced a major quake that hit at around 8:30 AM. The epicenter was just 10 miles outside the city center and it was immediately apparent that this was a major event causing significant infrastructure damage to the area and impacting the population of the largest city in the state. (CNN report)

After checking in with our families, friends, responders and clients in the area to make sure they were safe, we were able to dispatch a team member to assess the Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC) building. Our staff member Michelle Bellizzi arrived on-site on Monday and discovered very minor damage. Some photos had fallen off walls and there were some cracks in the walls. Overall the center is in good shape.

We are thankful and relieved that our friends and clients in Alaska are all safe at this point, and we’ve let them know we’re standing by in case of need. The Alaska Pipeline was briefly shut down as well to assess for any damage. It was declared safe and is now back in operation. We have received word that the marine terminals in Valdez are without any major damage as well.

Significant road damage: The Minnesota Dr. airport off-ramp buckled by the quake in Anchorage. (Photo: Nat Herz/AED)

While this was a major earthquake event, we are proud to be a small part of Alaska’s emergency response plan. Our hats are off to the incredible resiliency and can-do attitude that is the essence of our Alaskan neighbors.

This natural disaster is a good reminder for all of us to be prepared in an emergency:

• Have an emergency kit with enough water for 3 days, sturdy shoes, and warm clothes for each member of your household.

• Know where shut-off valves are for gas, water, and electricity in your home and office, and know how to shut off utilities if you are able.

• Keep cell phones charged, and have an emergency contact outside of your area that can make calls/coordinate support for you and yours from off-site.

• Have a pre-identified muster spot for far-flung family members to regroup.

Keep safe out there, because the birds need you!

Inside the Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC) post-earthquake.


December 1, 2018

New Board Member: Dr. Maria K. Hartley

Maria K. Hartley, PhD

International Bird Rescue is pleased to welcome Dr. Maria K. Hartley to its Board of Directors.

Dr. Hartley brings a wealth of experience to the Bird Rescue’s board as the global technical lead in Chevron’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response. She is also the assistant lead of Chevron’s Environmental Functional Team responsible for providing technical specialists to address environmental issues during potential oil spills and other emergencies. She has been with Chevron since 2009.

Maria has supported oil spill response in Chevron for 8 years, responding both domestically and internationally. Prior to this role, she developed and implemented Chevron’s industry leading environmental standards and processes worldwide, such as ESHIA (environmental, social, health impact assessment) and the Natural Resources Environmental Performance Standard and led permitting initiatives for Chevron’s major international capital projects. In addition, she advises on biodiversity and endangered species issues and advocacy.

Maria also volunteered her expertise to the Red Cross assisting and supporting disaster assessment. Receiving both her Doctorate and Masters of ecology from Rice University, she is now an Adjunct Assistant Professor, teaching Ecosystem Management at Rice, and elected member on the Board of Affiliates for the Professional Master’s Program and on the Advisory Board of the School of Natural Sciences. Maria is a British citizen, currently residing in Houston, Texas.

Bird Rescue’s ten-member board is integral in supporting the mission “to inspire people to act toward balance with the natural world by rescuing waterbirds in crisis”, providing fiduciary oversight, and overall support to all aspects of the organization’s growth and impact.