Duckling in care with feathers contaminated with super glue. Photo by Jeanette Bates-International Bird Rescue
Each spring, hundreds of baby birds come into care at Bird Rescue. Human-wildlife conflicts are the primary causes of these admissions. As urban development continues, suitable nesting habitat decreases, bringing people and baby birds into contact.
Between our two California wildlife centers, this May we have over 200 ducklings already in care, including the little one pictured here that came in contaminated with super glue! Our team was able to remove enough of the glue to give the duckling full range of movement. To avoid putting the duckling through the stress of a rigorous wash process, we will wait for this patient to molt the contaminated down fluff naturally as its new feathers grow in over the coming weeks.
You can help protect baby birds in a variety of ways this season! Here are a few of our top suggestions:
Wait to trim your trees until nesting season is over (October – November)
If you see baby birds, give them space! Sometimes parents are nearby but are frightened of humans
Keep natural areas free from litter
Know when to rescue a baby bird, and when not to – Read some great tips from Audubon here.
Support your local wildlife rehabilitation organizations
If you would like to support Bird Rescue during baby bird season this year, consider symbolically adopting a duckling! Your donation will go a long way towards helping our orphaned patients grow up strong and healthy, and eventually return to the wild. Duckling adoptions can make a great birthday present or Mother’s Day gift too!
Your Duckling adoption comes with a downloadable certificate to honor that special loved one.
Did you know that March marks the beginning of Baby Bird Season at International Bird Rescue? As early as the end of February, our clinics will begin flooding with thousands of orphaned baby birds. Due to human-related impacts such as habitat destruction, predator attacks from free-roaming cats, and abandoned nests due to environmental disturbance, many young chicks will end up at our wildlife centers.
While this season ALWAYS brings uncertainty as to how many nestlings will need our help, we are ALWAYS committed to helping each and every one. To get an inside peek at what Baby Bird Season at Bird Rescue is all about, watch this short video!
Baby Bird Season is hectic and costly in staff time and financial resources. Unlike traditional veterinary clinics, our patients come to us with no funding and no one responsible for paying the bill. And what’s worse, the bills for these young birds are always high. Baby bird patients require round-the-clock care, capable hands, and lots of food and vitamins in order to be raised successfully and returned to the environment. By pledging your support today, YOU can help us raise more than 2,000 baby birds this season!
How will your support get put to use? As an example, DONATIONS LIKE YOURS can cover the cost to care for a Black-crowned Night-Heron:
$36 covers feeding and housing a heron for two days
$100 provides surgery to a heron with a broken wing
$126 feeds a heron for a week
$600 funds the month-long stay of a healthy baby heron until its release
$1800 pays for required surgery and extended stay of an injured baby heron until its release
Please give generously through our busiest time of year – Baby Bird Season – and thank you for answering this call-to-action for aquatic chicks! To donate now, click below.
THANKS TO YOUR HELP over 2,000 orphaned birds will receive critical care at International Bird Rescue this spring, as well as a bright new opportunity to return to the wild. From all of us at Bird Rescue, THANK YOU for giving them a fresh start!
International Bird Rescue
P.S. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join in on a week-long journey that will look at the diversity of baby birds that come into our care, and ways that you can help!
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.
Each spring hundreds of ducklings stream into our California centers in search of a meal, a warm home and some TLC. In care this week we have 167 Dabbling Ducks and ducklings. You can help. Support their care and make Mom proud, too.
With current threats to clean water, regulation and protection of endangered species, our work is as critical as ever. International Bird Rescue is a world leader in oiled wildlife response and aquatic bird rehabilitation, with the mission to mitigate human impact.
In our everyday work, we are responding to ever-increasing challenges for wildlife in our environment. We aim to provide the highest standard of care and to release as many rehabilitated birds as possible back into the wild.
In addition to delivering the necessary food and medical expertise to meet patients’ needs, we build public awareness and understanding of the environmental impacts of human activity on water birds and the ecosystems they inhabit.
Your support now will allow us to respond when we are needed. We hope it will not be soon, but we must be prepared no matter what challenge may arise.
To see a map of our global spill response efforts since 1971, click here.
This September we celebrate Loons as our bird of the month, and the unique care that is required for this particular species. Have you ever heard the sounds of a Loon? We’ve got a great video posted on our Facebook page, where you can watch and listen to the beautiful vocalizations. When a Loon comes through our doors, we must work quickly to stabilize, as loons tend to be one of the more fragile species we get into care.
Did you know it costs $10 a day to provide a Loon with fish to eat, the necessary medical treatment and supplements, and clean water to swim in?
This means for Loons alone, the average cost is $300 a month!
You can even adopt a bird as a gift to someone that you know works really hard as a thank you to him or her, while also helping a bird today. Your adoption includes a fun downloadable PDF that you can print and display proudly.
Will you help us reach our fundraising goal of $3,500 this month by adopting a Loon today?
More than 150 stranded Common Murres have come in for care at IBR’s San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds
International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center has been hit by an uncommon wave of Common Murres—more than 150 of them in August. The majority of these seabirds are young, malnourished chicks, exhausted and unable to maintain their body temperature.
To help in the quest to save the lives of these numerous vulnerable and needy seabird patients, IBR is asking for support from the bird-appreciating public.
“This is an unusually large post-breeding event and is severely straining our bird center resources,” said Michelle Bellizzi, manager of IBR’s San Francisco Bay Center. “We hope the public will help by donating to care for these birds.”
At our already busy center, the murre patients are taking over — especially in the outdoor pelagic pools. The number of murres this year is exceptional – especially since IBR rarely sees more than 10 of these bird species in one month during the summer. Check out the live BirdCam
Hatchling year Common Murres are among the most seabird patients in care.
To most people, the Common Murre (Uria aalge) looks very much like a small penguin; in fact, the public often reports seeing “little penguins” stranded on the Bay area beaches when, in fact, they’re seeing murres. In contrast to Penguins, which are flightless and live in southern oceans, Common Murres are diving seabirds that can fly, and that breed and feed widely along the Pacific Coast from central California to Alaska.
Except when nesting, which they do on rocky cliffs, murres spend their lives in and on the water and are nothing less than super-divers—essentially “flying” through water by using their wings to propel themselves and diving in excess of 200 feet below the surface to forage.
As for what’s at the root of this huge influx of ailing Common Murres, no one knows for sure. Some scientists surmise that as waters warm along the California coast, diving birds starve as fish go deeper to reach cooler waters, putting themselves out of the birds’ reach. This summer Northern California coastal waters have seen an increase of 5 to 10 degrees above historical averages.
Whatever the issue, what’s happening to these seabirds is important, since Common Murres have served as a key indicator species for ocean conservation for many years, and their numbers have been trending downwards with documented changes in fish stocks, chronic oil spills, and interactions with humans.
Even in the best of times, IBR relies on public support to treat and feed ill and injured seabirds each year—more than 5,000 patients are cared for annually at IBR’s two California centers.
Right now, Common Murres needing life-saving care are proving extra-challenging and are truly testing IBR’s resources. Donations are greatly needed and greatly appreciated. And for those who wish to donate in the form of a symbolic “adoption” of a murre, they can do so at http://bird-rescue.org/adopt-murre
With any bird adoption you can celebrate knowing that this gift of love and life will provide support for the hundreds of orphaned ducklings and baby birds we care for each year at our California wildlife centers.
Create a Mother’s Day certificate online. This PDF is suitable for full-page printing and mailing. Let us know if you want us to mail it and if we receive your order by Tuesday, May 5th, the certificate will be mailed in the following day’s mail.
If you would, please tell a friend about this Mother’s Day adoption by forwarding this email to all animal lovers in your life!
Thank for your continuing generosity,
Interim Executive Director
International Bird Rescue
Good news! Thanks to your support, International Bird Rescue’s year-end online giving campaign is off to a great start. As of today, we’ve raised 61% of our $30,000 goal.
Not only is a year-end gift to International Bird Rescue tax-deductible, but also it supports a growing number of patients coming to our wildlife hospitals as winter arrives.
Among them: 16 Western Grebes currently being treated at our Los Angeles center. This species, shown above, is commonly affected by marine pollution as well as severe storms, which can knock grebes to the ground in urban areas where they cannot regain flight (grebes need a runway of water to become airborne).
All grebes are labor-intensive patients. They’re also wonderful birds that we hope will be common sights along our coasts for generations to come. The Western Grebe’s courtship ritual is the stuff of avian legend!
This season, you can even “adopt” your own grebe, and we’ll send an official adoption certificate to you or to your gift recipient. Please allow up to two business days for an email version to be sent out, and one week for a certificate via standard mail.
With fall migration in full swing, large numbers of migratory birds are moving through California on their way south. These birds follow the Pacific Flyway, one of four major routes in the Americas for migratory travel.
Autumn becomes a very busy time for International Bird Rescue due to birds that have crash-landed in urban areas during migration. Both our centers are currently caring for a large number of crash-landed birds, primarily Eared Grebes (pronounced “greebs”).
Why do these birds crash land? Crash-landed birds, also known as grounded birds, are birds that have hit the ground and are unable to regain flight. Eared Grebes, for instance, can easily mistake wet pavement and shallow ponds as deeper waterways, and often become grounded in parking lots and streets.
Eared Grebes have beautiful and remarkable yellow ear tufts during breeding season. The ones you see in this post sport non-breeding plumage as they migrate to the southwest US and into Mexico.
About the size of a grapefuit, Eared Grebes are the smallest of the diving birds and are known for their excellent swimming ability, with lobed feet placed far back on their bodies. However, grebes are not suited for land and require a long water runway to take flight. When grounded, these birds will end up dragging themselves as they try to swim. Unless captured, treated for their injuries and relocated to water, they will not survive.
In Southern California alone, injured grebes in our care have been found in many locations, including:
• A runway at LAX • Union Station in downtown Los Angeles • Two swimming pools in Malibu • A front yard in Santa Monica • At the busy intersection of Wilshire and Centinela in Santa Monica • The Ventura County Fairgrounds
International Bird Rescue is very thankful for the support of bird lovers everywhere who want to help. Thanks to the Port of Long Beach, our first 10 Eared Grebe patients have been symbolically adopted.
We currently have over 50 Eared Grebes in care — over twice the number during the same period last year, for unknown reasons — and many have yet to be symbolically adopted as part of our Adopt-a-Bird program. You can adopt your own Eared Grebe, for yourself or for a loved one. Click on a grebe below to get started.
Elegant Terns in tangle after being hooked together last month in Southern California. Photo by Nick Liberato
If you work in this business, you learn to live with a lot of heartache. For every case ending in an awe-inspiring release, there’s an animal whose injuries were just too much to bear.
Some stories are a mix of both.
Our Los Angeles center team recently received this adult Elegant Tern and a tern chick hooked together by a multi-hook fishing lure.
Nick Liberato, a biologist who monitors a tern colony on nearby Terminal Island, found the birds and took the photo upon rescue. “I spotted them as I was ushering some stray chicks back through the chick fencing and into the main rookery,” Liberato says. “At first, I thought they were just tangled in monofilament [fishing line], but when I saw that multi-hooked lure puncturing both of them, I knew my tools wouldn’t cut it, so I got them over to you guys as quickly as possible.”
Our rehabilitation team separated mother from chick and extensively nursed the severe wounds of both animals. Sadly, the tern’s injuries had already become infected, and this baby bird did not survive. The mother healed remarkably after several weeks of care, and was recently released by our intern and volunteer team at Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach, CA. You can see video of this story below.
Fishing hooks and fishing line are such a pervasive problem for seabirds, and a leading cause of injury in the birds we care for at our California centers. If you fish, be mindful of where your gear ends up. We know there are many fishermen who are responsible, and it’s our wish that you’ll spread this message to others. We are grateful that you set a good example out on the water and at the cleaning stations.
And we can all do our part by picking up plastic pollution and discarded gear wherever we see it in the marine environment. You may end up saving a wild bird’s life.
In a few days, we’ll be marking a sobering milestone: the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. Shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, the oil tanker struck Blight Reef in Prince William Sound, home to more than 220 bird species.
International Bird Rescue’s response team was crucial in efforts to save as many oiled birds as possible. Out of this tragedy, we developed new methods of transport and stabilization, and launched an international internship program that has trained people from around the globe on how to save animals affected by spills.
This Valentine’s Day, share a special note to a lovebird in your life with our duckling pair adoption. For just a $20 gift to International Bird Rescue, we’ll create this custom valentine e-card with an optional personal message and send it on February 14 to your special valentine.
Your gift will help support the care and feeding of hundreds of orphaned baby birds like these wonderful ducklings cared for in the spring by International Bird Rescue.
There are many reasons why large numbers of orphaned ducklings end up at our centers. Many mother ducks see landscaped yards as prime nesting spots. Once hatched, mother ducks must walk their babies to the closest available water.
In that initial and important first journey, they meet cars, dogs, people, steep gutters, storm drains and wild predators. Many ducklings become separated and stranded and attempts to reunite them with their panicked mother are often futile. Thankfully, many of these birds end up in our care. Click here to send a valentine!
In addition to responding to oil spills around the world, International Bird Rescue staff work to care for birds impacted by lesser known threats like natural oil seeps under the ocean, algal blooms, marine debris, and extreme weather. We use this blog to share stories from the field and from the two California-based bird rescue centers we manage. We hope you enjoy this window into our world—we are truly passionate about caring for birds, and know that our community shares this passion. We could not do this important work without your ongoing support!