Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for February 2019

February 14, 2019

Seabirds Oiled By Natural Seep Along California Coast Flood Los Angeles Center

A Western Grebe oiled by natural seep is cleaned at the Los Angeles Wildlife Center. Photo: Bill Steinkamp

Updated 3/4/2019

Since the beginning of 2019, more than 150 oiled seabirds coated in natural seep have been found stranded on beaches up and down the coast of California, from San Mateo County to Orange County.

The rescued birds are being washed and rehabilitated at our Los Angeles wildlife center. They include mainly Western Grebes, Clark’s Grebes, Red-throated Loons, and Surf Scoters. This influx of contaminated patients is not unusual. Each year in the fall and winter months Bird Rescue experiences an “Oiled Bird Season” as migrating birds pass through naturally occurring oil seeps. Read NOAA information: Natural Oil Seeps in Southern California

Oiled Common Murre seabird will be stabilized with food, fluids and rest before being washed at the SF Bay-Delta Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

As a member organization of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network with a fully equipped state-of-the-art wash facility, Bird Rescue staff and volunteers are trained and ready to provide these patients with the specialized care that they need. While it is unfortunate any time a bird becomes oiled, these seasonal seep birds give us the chance to practice the techniques and procedures that would be used during a spill emergency. All animal care workers don appropriate personal protective equipment as they work to stabilize each oiled patient and eventually move them through wash, which is a long and taxing process for these birds. See cleaned birds on the live BirdCam

“One of the most important things that people should understand about caring for oiled wildlife is that the wash is just a small portion of the overall work that needs to be done in order to successfully rehabilitate and release these birds back into the wild,” said Julie Skoglund, Bird Rescue’s Operations Manager.

Once they are adequately hydrated and nourished, each bird takes about 30-60 minutes to go through the four-step wash and rinse process. Afterwards it is moved to a specialized enclosure to dry off. Then begins the multi-day process of waterproofing: a labor-intensive effort on the part of both patient and staff. It involves extensive feather preening, several days of moving back and forth between pools and drying pens, frequent checkups, and additional spot washes as needed. Once the bird has completely re-established its waterproofing, it will remain in care until any additional injuries have been resolved and it has attained a healthy state.

We are thankful for our partner organizations, especially the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, for stabilizing and transferring many of these oiled birds to us.

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network generously supports a portion of the cost for caring for these animals. To learn more about the Oiled Wildlife Care Network and their work with oil-affected wildlife, please visit https://owcn.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/

If you would like to contribute to the care of these birds, please donate today at https://www.bird-rescue.org/get-involved/donate

To report an oiled or injured animal, call the Oiled Wildlife Care Network hotline at (877) 823-6926.

Cleaned of oil, Western Grebes swim in one of the pelagic pools at the wildlife center in San Pedro, CA. Photo: Angie Trumbo/International Bird Rescue

February 5, 2019

All You Need Is Love: Valentine’s Day Gift Idea

Celebrate Valentine’s Day by symbolically adopting a pair of ducklings in honor of your special someone!

At International Bird Rescue, we are dedicated to rescuing waterbirds in crisis and inspiring people to act toward balance with the natural world and care for the home we share with wildlife. Your adoption will be a meaningful and fun way to celebrate this holiday with your loved one.

Please make a $15 donation here and you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for how to download and print your customizable Valentine’s Day e-card.

Whether you’re thinking of a dear friend, sibling, parent or sweetheart give the gift that makes a difference!


February 4, 2019

Patient of the Week: Guadalupe Murrelet

This endangered Guadalupe Murrelet came into care was suffering from toe and hock lesions. Photos by Angie Trumbo

On January 6, a small, unusual bird was found stowing away on a boat bound for the Port of Los Angeles and was brought into our L.A. wildlife center for care. Little did the rescuer know that the bird he had found was an endangered Guadalupe Murrelet.

Guadalupe Murrelets were once considered the same species as Scripps’s Murrelets and lumped together under the species name Xantus’s Murrelet. In 2012, it was determined that the two were in fact distinct species with their own separate breeding populations. The Guadalupe Murrelet can be distinguished from the Scripps’s by the amount of white plumage on its face extending up and around the eye. These tiny auks are threatened by invasive species on their breeding islands off the coast of Baja as well as by the effects of climate change.

This is the first Guadalupe Murrelet we’ve ever had the opportunity and privilege to rehabilitate! Thankfully, the patient arrived in fairly good body condition but was suffering from toe and hock lesions. Our team closely monitored its condition over the course of two weeks and quickly fell in love with this little bird’s cute features and feisty attitude. The murrelet did well in care and spent most of its time in one of our outdoor pelagic pools where it could swim and dive alongside other smaller species such as Eared Grebes and Ruddy Ducks.

On Jan 25, our friends at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium carefully loaded this former patient onto their research boat and gave it an open ocean release, which allowed it to have a fresh start closer to its natural range. We were sad to see this little murrelet go, but are thrilled to have helped a member of an endangered species recover and return to its home in the wild!

We are grateful to supporters like you that make it possible for us to respond when birds like this little murrelet are in crisis. If you would like to help us continue this work, please consider donating today.

Guadalupe Murrelet gets some swim time in just before being released in late January.