Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for July 2020

July 27, 2020

International Bird Rescue Announces Two New Board Members

International Bird Rescue is excited to announce the election of two new members to its Board of Directors. The newly elected Board members are Elizabeth Kinney and Dave Westerholm.

“I am pleased to welcome our two newest members to the Board of Directors,” said JD Bergeron, Bird Rescue’s Executive Director.  “They both bring a unique background and diverse experiences that make them an asset to the Board and to the organization as a whole.”

Elizabeth Kinney

Elizabeth Kinney leads communications across Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) North America Home Care business, which includes brands such as Dawn, Cascade, Swiffer and Febreze. She has spent the past nine years at P&G, working across the company in a variety of roles, including corporate media, sustainability, Fabric Care communications, and on P&G’s ‘Thank You Mom’ program. She has a Bachelor’s degree from DePauw University in Indiana, and a Masters in Strategic Communications from American University in Washington, D.C. She is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lives with her husband, Doug.

Dave Westerholm photo
Dave Westerholm

Dave Westerholm is currently consulting having recently retired from NOAA where he served over 11 years as a Senior Executive and Director of the Office of Response and Restoration. He led national operational programs in Emergency Response, Marine Debris, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) and Disaster Preparedness. Prior to NOAA, he had 5 years of corporate experience as Senior Operations Director and Vice President with Anteon and General Dynamics, where he managed portfolios in Maritime Security, IT, Policy and Communications. He is a retired Coast Guard Captain with over 27 years of experience in a variety of fields including maritime safety, port security and environmental protection with his last assignment being Coast Guard’s Chief of Response. He also served as Vice Chair of the National Response Team and Chair of several interagency and industry partnerships focused on emergency response and oil and hazardous material spill research. He holds a science degree from Temple University and a Masters from the University of Michigan.

Bird Rescue’s 2020 Board of Directors is:

Officers:

  • Toni Arkoosh Pinsky; Board Chair; Community Leader
  • John Sifling; Vice Chair & Treasurer; Principal, Broad Reach Maritime, U.S. Coast Guard Retired
  • Ron Morris; Secretary & Immediate Past Chair; U.S. Coast Guard Retired

Directors-at-large:

  • Carmine Dulisse; President & CEO, Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC)
  • Elizabeth Kinney; Procter & Gamble NA
  • Dr. Maria Hartley; Chevron; Adjunct Professor, Rice University
  • Dr. Ian Robinson; Retired Veterinarian
  • Beth Slatkin; Director of Marketing and Outreach, Bay Nature
  • Dave Westerholm; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Retired
July 22, 2020

New Scientific Paper Published: Caspian Terns Saved, Rehabilitated, and Released by International Bird Rescue Are Surviving and Breeding!

Bird Rescue is proud to announce the publication of an important scientific paper on a rescue-and-rehabilitation effort that led to a notable success: the post-release survival and breeding of a group of Caspian Terns in Southern California.

The paper was published in 2020 Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences.

The story began in 2006 and 2007 in the Port of Long Beach, one of the busiest shipping ports on the west coast and near a favored breeding colony locale for both Caspian and Elegant Terns in southern California. In both years, disastrous events threatened the lives of tern chicks born in the Port of Long Beach.

In 2006, workers cleaning the deck of a barge deliberately flushed Caspian Tern chicks—too young to survive independently—into the Pacific Ocean. In 2007, suspected human disturbances caused another group of tern chicks to wind up floundering in the water. Fortunately, Bird Rescue was able to rescue some of these young birds and take them into care at its Los Angeles Wildlife Center.

Read: Rare Tern Colony Decimated in Long Beach, CA

The fact that these chicks were able to survive and breed after release is especially noteworthy because terns pose unique challenges for rehabilitators. Adult terns typically nest in colonies and are plunge-divers, which means they raise their young communally and they hunt by hovering over the water in flight, spotting fish below the surface, and then plunging into the water to catch their prey. Becoming effective at feeding in this fashion requires training and practice, so young terns spend many months flying with and being guided and supplementally fed by their parents to master this skill well enough to survive on their own. Unfortunately, this type of learning is pretty much impossible to replicate in captivity. Conservation efforts that work well with other species of birds, such as captive rearing for wild release, are not suitable for terns. And the situation is made more desperate by the fact that critically endangered tern species population numbers continue to drop: tern colonies remain vulnerable to environmental disasters and human disturbances that disrupt breeding for an entire colony, or kill all of its young of the year at once.

Photo of Caspian Terns in care after rescue in 2006 at International Bird Rescue's Los Angeles Wildlife Center

Caspian Terns in care after rescue in July 2006 at Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center. They were later released back to the wild in August. Photo: International Bird Rescue

Bird Rescue pioneered a unique, “natural” method for turning the rescued chicks into capable, self-sufficient adult terns. The fact that some of the rescued chicks have been seen as adults, alive and in breeding colonies years later, is a strong sign of the effort’s success. With Bird Rescue’s care and help, these chicks overcame their traumatic early life. These very young birds learned to fend for themselves and survive, and were able to breed successfully as adults. This validates the care regimen at Bird Rescue and gives us hope for future populations.

As rehabilitators, we feel proud knowing that our extensive rehabilitation efforts were a success. We also want to acknowledge the expert collaborative help we received from ornithologist Dr. Charlie Collins, Professor Emeritus at California State University of Long Beach.

To understand how we solved the challenges of rehabilitating these terns, please read Survival and Recruitment of Rehabilitated Caspian Terns in Southern California.

The final paper was published in the 2020 Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences.

July 16, 2020

Rescued Snowy Plover Now A Monterey Aquarium Ambassador Bird

Snowy Plover in care at International Bird Rescue

Snowy Plover before it was moved to Monterey Bay aquarium. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

The Snowy Plover that came into care back in May 2020 is now at its forever home at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This tiny shorebird had its wing surgically pinned and later, physical therapy, but unfortunately the bird was deemed non releasable due to inadequate flight. His bone healed but his patagium – that web of skin that connects the shoulder to the wrist on the wing – was too scarred to allow for normal elbow movement.

The adult male Western Snowy Plover was rescued by a biologist from San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Union City, CA. On arrival, radiographs revealed the bird had suffered a bad wing fracture, with his humerus bone in 3 pieces, plus it had a lacerated patagium. Humerus fractures generally require surgical pinning if a wild bird is to have any hope of ever being able to fly again. Read more

The bird’s wing was pinned in a delicate surgery at our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. Such a surgery is a challenge due to the miniscule size of the patient.  Our team was especially focused on trying to repair this bird’s injuries, as the status of Western Snowy Plovers is Species of Special Concern within California, and Threatened status on the Endangered Species list.

See media story: Rare bird in care at International Bird Rescue, San Francisco Chronicle

July 10, 2020

Webinar: The Great Penguin Rescue: What We Learned At Treasure Oil Spill

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the extraordinary rescue and rehabilitation of 20,000 oiled penguins at the Treasure oil spill in South Africa. The response team from International Bird Rescue was one of the key organizations providing its expertise and passion to make this one of the most successful wildlife responses in the world/

Join us on July 23, 2020 at 5:30 PM (PST) for a webinar, as two of team’s top level responders, Barbara Callahan and Mark Russell, as they share their remembrances of this three month endeavor. Russ Curtis, Communications with Bird Rescue and a volunteer penguin tender at the spill, will moderate.

Register now for this Zoom webinar.

SPEAKERS

Barbara Callahan
Response Services Director @International Bird Rescue

Barbara Callahan

Barbara is an internationally-experienced and recognized emergency response and management professional who received her B. S. in Biological Science from the University of Alaska. She has worked in oiled wildlife response, response management and rehabilitation of aquatic animals over the course of 20 years and is certified in Federal Emergency Management. Barbara has been Response Services Director at Bird Rescue since 1997.

Mark Russell
Response Team Member @International Bird Rescue

Mark Russell

During the 2000 Treasure spill in South Africa, Mark Russell was on Bird Rescue’s leadership team working at the Salt River response center. He has been involved in oiled wildlife response since 1990 when he helped on the American Trader spill in Southern California. He has held a variety of roles at Bird Rescue including managing the Los Angeles Wildlife Center. He holds a B.S. Degree in Ecology from San Francisco State University and is working on a M.S. in Avian Parasitology.

July 1, 2020

Stuck In The Mud, Struggling Brown Pelican Saved By Community Rescuers

A rescue team from Alameda Fire Department, guided by a concerned citizen, capture a Brown Pelican tethered to discarded fishing tackle and stuck in the mudflats. Photos: Cindy Margulis – International Bird Rescue

A Brown Pelican in Alameda, CA that was stuck in the mud and tethered to discarded fishing tackle is alive today and in care at International Bird Rescue after a heartwarming community rescue effort.

On June 23th a newly retired Lincoln Middle School teacher, Sharmaine Moody, noticed a Brown Pelican that appeared to be stuck in the offshore mudflat between the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary and the Bay Farm Bridge during low tide. As it struggled to get airborne, other pelicans became alarmed and kept circling in the air over the young bird. Eventually the other pelicans left to forage elsewhere, but Sharmaine kept returning to monitor the stranded pelican at different tidal conditions to try to ensure there would be a chance for a boat rescue to work in a higher tide.

After rescue, the Brown Pelican was transferred to a large transport carrier and driven to Bird Rescue’s wildlife center in Fairfield.

A call was made to the Alameda Fire Department for help rescuing this pelican in peril. When Battalion Chief David Buckley was confident there was sufficient fire coverage in town on June 24th, he deployed Alameda’s Rescue Boat 01 crew, manned by firefighters Ty, Roland, & Nick. As soon as their Zodiac approached the pelican, they realized how stranded this poor bird was. When they tried to lift the pelican with a net, they felt the tug of the entanglement beneath it, preventing them from getting the bird out of the water. An assortment of fishing gear, including wads of monofilament line, had to be cut off before they were able to bring the pelican up into the rescue craft. Back at the boat launch, even more fishing gear had to be cut away to get the pelican out of the net.

In care at our center in Fairfield: Brown Pelican following rescue.

With the help of Sharmaine Moody and former Bird Rescue volunteer, Linda Vallee, the injured pelican was quickly transported to our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center in Fairfield for emergency veterinary care. The young Brown Pelican is currently in serious but stable condition. It suffered severe constriction wounds to its leg and damage to its wings from the fishing line entanglement that will require many weeks in care to heal.

Special thanks are due to the Alameda Fire Department for their rescue heroics last week, as well as to Sharmaine Moody and Linda Vallee for keeping track of the pelican’s predicament until a rescue could be arranged. It truly takes a community to protect our natural world and the wildlife we share it with.

This case is not only a strong reminder of the needless suffering and bodily harm that stray fishing gear and monofilament fishing line can cause for wildlife, but also the positive impact individuals can have when they take action on behalf of animals in need.

Preventing Needless Suffering Starts Here

The Reel In and Recycle program is a good step towards encouraging recycling fishing line.

There are simple actions everyone can take to help prevent needless suffering for wildlife, including birds and marine mammals, and also reduce entrapment risks for swimmers in local shorelines, too. We encourage all fishermen to remove all their gear from the water and shoreline.

If you come across any discarded fishing line, make sure that it gets deposited into a proper receptacle. Alameda, and many other fishing locations throughout California have specialized bins for recycling monofilament, which are part of the national Reel In & Recycle Program.  When specialty receptacles aren’t available, you can cut the monofilament into small pieces and dispose of it in a lidded trash container. If you would like your local park or pier to implement a fishing line recycling program, contact your harbormaster or local parks department.

In recent years other bird species in nearby waters have been adversely affected by cast off fishing gear. Four Ospreys in the Alameda area have been entangled in fishing line and gear, including one confirmed to have died from its injuries.  Just last month, another local Osprey female at Alameda Point had to be trapped on her nest in order to remove an entanglement.