Every Bird Matters
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Animal Cruelty

April 19, 2014

Brown pelican with severe pouch laceration

This Brown Pelican with a severe pouch laceration injury was found and captured Wednesday at 5400 Ocean Blvd in Long Beach before transfer to our Los Angeles center. The laceration runs all the way around the pouch, and as a result the pelican was unable to self-feed.

Our center team has placed temporary staples in the pouch to allow the bird to self-feed and stabilize. The bird is currently living in our small aviary awaiting surgery to repair the pouch.

If anyone has information regarding this bird’s injury, please call the SPCA cruelty tip line for Southern California at 1-800-540-SPCA. We’ll keep you posted on this bird’s condition.

To make a donation that will assist in the care of this bird and other pelicans cared for year-round at our wildlife centers, please click here.


Further reading:

Blue-Banded Pelican Project

November 2, 2013

Update on Elegant Tern cruelty case

Release day for Elegant Tern 13-2408 at SF Bay Center
Elegant Tern photos by Cheryl ReynoldsELTE

The Elegant Tern brought to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center last month with a gunshot wound is now flying well and on track for release, our staff reports.

“We are amazed that this bird has recovered so well after sustaining such a traumatic injury to its wing,” says Isabel Luevano, an International Bird Rescue rehabilitation technician.

“During the course of this tern’s care, we did notice that the bird was having waterproofing issues, which correlate with the bird’s entry wound at its shoulder. After two quick washes, we believe the bird is getting closer to release, and appears to be regaining its waterproofing back quickly,” Luevano says.

Anyone with information on the perpetrator or perpetrators behind this animal cruelty case should call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Offices in Burlingame, Calif. at (650) 876-9078. Elegant Terns are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Read the original post on this case here, as well as an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.


October 10, 2013

Cruelty case: Terns are not for target practice

Elegant Tern 13-2408 in care at SF Bay Center, pellet in shoulder
Elegant Tern recovering from gunshot injury, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Update: The Santa Cruz Sentinel has covered this cruelty incident, read the article here.

With a slender, downturned bill, a black crown during breeding season and a graceful wing shape in flight, it’s easy to see where the Elegant Tern got its name.

Unfortunately, the tern you see here was the target of very inelegant human cruelty, and now has a bullet lodged in its right shoulder.

Earlier this week, our San Francisco Bay center received into care this Elegant Tern, found injured on a beach in Santa Cruz, Calif. Xray1X-rays confirmed the presence of the bullet, shown here. These animals are considered a near-threatened species for their highly restricted breeding distribution: More than 90% of all Elegant Terns nest on the small island of Isla Rasa off the coast of Mexico’s Baja California.

But we are pleased to report that as of this post, the bird is doing well in care. And International Bird Rescue’s centers have deep experience in caring for terns such as this one. For instance, in 2006 we raised many young tern survivors after dozens of nests were deliberately washed off a barge docked in Long Beach, Calif. To give these birds the best chance of survival, we released them at a tern colony in the Salton Sea, where they would be surrounded by other young birds learning to fish.

International Bird Rescue Members help us make this work possible, whether it’s carrying for bird victims of cruelty incidents or other injury types. If you’ve given in our fall membership drive, thank you so much. If you haven’t yet, please consider joining us – we’re closing in on our $30,000 pledge goal and need your support. Any gift of $25 or more makes you a member.

Anyone with information on the perpetrator or perpetrators behind this animal cruelty case should call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Offices in Burlingame, Calif. at (650) 876-9078. Elegant Terns are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Elegant Tern 13-2408 in care at SF Bay Center, pellet in shoulder

Meanwhile, our San Francisco Bay center is filling up with many other interesting seabirds in need of expert care, including this Surf Scoter (shown below), treated for a scalp injury of undetermined cause. You can see his recovery live on our BirdCam, along with several murres and grebes sharing his pool.

Surf Scoter 13-2400 in care at SF Bay Center
Surf Scoter, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Basic-Membership 3  Sustaining-Members

More cruelty case coverage from 2013:

An update on arrowed goose’s recovery

More than a year after cruel attack, Brown Pelican soars high again

Birds getting caught in Marina del Rey tree nets

Santa Cruz Sentinel: Information sought after federally protected bird shot in Capitola (Oct. 10, 2013)

April 11, 2013

An update on arrowed goose’s recovery


We’re pleased to report that the Greylag Goose recently brought to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center with an arrow wound through its neck is doing well.

Center Manager Michelle Bellizzi informs us that the goose has “graduated to a water-based aviary in preparation for his/her placement/return to Napa Wildlife,” the organization that had captured the bird and brought it to us for surgery and care (read more on this bird’s treatment and surgery by Dr. Rebecca Duerr here).

According to local reports, an individual has stepped forward in this incident. Via Napa Valley Register, which was a key media source in solving this case:

A 14-year-old boy who lives along the Napa River admitted shooting a Graylag goose in the neck with an arrow in late March, Napa County Sheriff’s Capt. Tracey Stuart said Wednesday.

The boy said he meant to shoot the rubber-tipped practice arrow into the ground to shoo a gaggle of geese away from the family’s yard, she said.


“The young man was visibly upset, very remorseful about hurting the goose and has no history of similar behavior,” Stuart said.

The case was discussed with a prosecutor from the Napa County District Attorney’s Office, Stuart said. “It is likely that the young man will be devoting many hours to community service, helping and learning about animals,” she said.

Read the full article here.

Unfortunately, cases like this one are rarely solved. According to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS):

—Wildlife officials estimate that nationwide, tens of millions of animals are killed illegally each year.

—It is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached animals come to the attention of law enforcement.

In California, animal cruelty is a felony and police take animal cruelty cases seriously. With the goose and arrow as evidence, the Napa Police began a criminal investigation and the HSUS put up a reward of $5,000 for evidence leading to arrest (null in this case, as the offender turned himself in).

Many individuals and organizations came together to help this goose, including:photo-1

—Kerana Todorov, crime reporter at the Napa Valley Register (follow her on Twitter @NVRkerana)

—Michelle Anderson at Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County and her rescue team

—Jennifer Fearing at HSUS (@JenniferFearing)

—Nick Janes, reporter at CBS 13 Sacramento (@nick_janes)

—Sargent Oscar Ortiz, Napa Police Animal Services

—Rebecca Duerr, DVM MPVM at International Bird Rescue

—Our volunteers and staff who have cared for this beautiful Greylag Goose, now looking for a safe and proper home! Karen Benzel

April 5, 2013

Humane Society offers $5,000 reward in case of Greylag Goose shot with arrow


Update: An individual has stepped forward in this incident, read more at the Napa Valley Register. We are grateful for the resolution of this case and will post more updates as soon as we can. Below is the original release on the cruelty incident:


As we wrote on Wednesday, a Greylag Goose was shot with a target arrow in Napa and brought to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center last week for surgery (the bird is now recovering).

Thanks to The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, a $5,000 reward has been offered in the case — see HSUS’ press release below for more information.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 3.53.47 PM

Reward Offered for Goose Shooting in Napa, Calif.

(April 4, 2013) – The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally shooting a Greylag goose with an arrow in Napa, Calif.

According to International Bird Rescue, on Wed., March 27 around 5:30 p.m., Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County received calls about an injured Greylag goose on the Napa River between 1st St. and the Yacht Club. The goose had been shot through the neck with an arrow bearing the initials ‘K.H.’ and was taken to the International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center for surgery the following day. She is currently recovering.

“This act of wanton cruelty demands legal justice,” said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Napa County Sheriff’s Department for its efforts to find those responsible.”

Anyone with information concerning the shooting of the goose is asked to call the Napa County Sheriff’s Department at (707) 253-4451.


—Wildlife officials estimate that nationwide, tens of millions of animals are killed illegally each year.

—It is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached animals come to the attention of law enforcement.

—Poachers injure or kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.

—The HSUS and HSWLT work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.

—The HSUS and HSWLT work to curb poaching across the county. The HSUS recently doubled its standard poaching reward from $2,500 to $5,000 thanks to a generous donation from HSUS board member Cathy Kangas and her husband Ed Kangas of New Canaan, Conn.


Media coverage: Thanks to CBS13 Sacramento and the Napa Valley Register for covering this story.

Want to help support this bird’s care and recovery? Click on birdrescue.org/donate and join our team.

April 3, 2013

Do you know who shot this goose?

IBR staff position the arrow found in a Greylag Goose. The bird was rescued in Napa and brought to our San Francisco Bay center.

Alert: International Bird Rescue is looking for information into a recent incident of animal cruelty involving this Greylag Goose.

On Wednesday, March 27 around 5:30pm, the Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County received calls from the public about a goose that had been shot through its neck with an arrow. The bird was successfully captured the next day and rushed to IBR, where it underwent a complicated surgery to save its life.

Anyone with information on the person or persons behind this cruelty case should call the Napa County Sheriff’s Office at 707-253-4451. The officer handling the case is Sgt. Oscar Ortiz. For any media inquiries for International Bird Rescue, please call 831-622-7588.

The initials “K.H.” are handwritten on the arrow.


International Bird Rescue staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr describes the surgery she recently performed on this bird:

Napa Wildlife successfully staged a water capture of a goose with an arrow through its neck, and brought it to our San Francisco Bay center for treatment. When the bird arrived, they reported the arrow had fallen out in transit. However, we found the bird had two holes in its neck. Due to the location of the holes, I had concerns for either the trachea or esophagus being perforated. We anesthetized the bird so I could fully evaluate the injury.

Once the bird was asleep, we noticed a large amount of air and anesthetic gas escaping from the neck hole on the left side. I found that the trachea had been perfectly pierced and had two arrow-sized holes through the tracheal walls. We decided to proceed with surgical repair of the injury despite its very concerning prognosis. I placed a breathing tube into the bird’s airsac system so that we could keep it asleep and breathing comfortably while I worked on the trachea. There was a large zone of cartilage that was quite damaged. I removed the damaged areas before suturing the two free ends of the trachea together on the left side (a procedure called a “resection and anastomosis”), and repeated the suturing process on the right side. On the right side, I could see that the arrow had passed between the esophagus and spine to pierce the trachea. The other structures appeared uninjured.


One medical characteristic of geese is that they produce a lot of saliva and mucus in order to eat dry grains and grasses. Under anesthesia this can become a problem due to irritation of the trachea setting off this production of mucus. I was (and remain) very concerned the bird would have severe tracheal irritation post-op and was at risk for asphyxiation. Birds are not as good at coughing as mammals. I have been treating him with several drugs to try to keep inflammation and mucus production under control while the trachea heals.

Currently, 6 days post-op, the bird is doing very well and is no longer producing disturbing amounts of mucus, and the skin is healing nicely. I am guardedly optimistic that the bird may recover well from the injury. — Rebecca Duerr, DVM MPVM


February 6, 2013

Birds getting caught in Marina del Rey tree nets

L.A. County Fire Department Station 110 rescues a Double-crested Cormorant caught in tree netting. Photo © Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue/Friends of Animals.

Recently, International Bird Rescue staff received reports from the public of birds getting caught in a giant net placed over trees in Marina del Rey that are popular nesting sites for Black-crowned Night Herons and Double-crested Cormorants — two common species treated at our centers. The netting was placed on the trees, located near the Marina Harbor Apartments, to prevent nesting and the droppings that inevitably end up on the cars below.

We referred these callers to Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue. On Sunday, Wallerstein shot this image of of a firefighter from station #110 rescuing a Double-crested Cormorant hanging in the net high above.

DCCO-Julie Skoglund
The Double-crested Cormorant in care at International Bird Rescue in San Pedro

The bird has since been transferred into our care with a drooping wing. It’s doing well in care, though we don’t know if it will recover.

December 12, 2012

Western Grebe with Fish Hook Injuries

Yet another innocent bird injured by fish hooks — in this case, a Western Grebe with hook injuries in her back, leg and mouth. Staff at our San Francisco Bay Area center have removed the hooks, and the bird is recovering, though has a long way to go. (Photo by Isabel Luevano.)

This holiday season, we are offering honorary adoptions starting at just $25 that make wonderful gifts for the wildlife lovers in your life. Help support this bird’s recovery: Find out about our Adopt-a-Bird program here.

October 3, 2012

The Painful Truth

A California Brown Pelican upon admission to International Bird Rescue – its wrist hooked to its face with a fishing lure

On Monday, Redondo Beach Animal Control arrived at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Center with a California Brown Pelican in desperate need of assistance. A fishing lure was hooked not just to the side of the bird’s face, but to its wrist, such that any movement of its head or wing would tug at the wounds on each. All three barbs on each end of the lure – six barbs in total – were embedded into the Pelican’s flesh and, as shown below, had to be snipped for extraction. Judging by the advanced parasitic state of the wound on its face, with a huge opening below the eye and around the hinge of its jaw, this bird must have been in this predicament for several days before being rescued.

The lure removed, and the wound flushed, the Pelican was started on antibiotics and will require surgery when it has been stabilized.

The very sight of this bird’s injuries inspires an immediate empathy in all of us, but every bird that comes through our doors is there for a reason… and we treat about 5,000 of them every year. We need your help in order to help them all. If you haven’t made a gift this year, please consider doing so today.

Every bird matters.

September 28, 2012

The Case of a Cormorant

International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Center recently took in a Brandt’s Cormorant with extensive fishing hook injuries, especially to the sides of its mouth. While pelicans are the species most commonly plagued by this type of injury, cormorants also plunge-dive in fishing areas, and thus run a similar risk.

Our staff is anesthetizing this bird every two days to surgically debride its commissures, or remove the affected tissue from the intersections of its upper and lower mandibles. A hook that had pierced through the top of its mandible also needed to be removed, and there is a large wound on the side of its cheek from yet another hook. The Cormorant has suffered deep wounds and severe loss of tissue, but while the road ahead may be a challenge, this bird is responding to antibiotics and still has a strong chance of survival.

International Bird Rescue staff and volunteers continue to work hard toward this resilient and “feisty” bird’s recovery.