Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Baby Birds

August 13, 2019

It Always Starts With A Phone Call

Baby Snowy Egrets, many that had tumbled out of nests onto a downtown Oakland sidewalk, were gently scopped up and put into boxes for transport to Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. Photo by Michelle Bellizzi–International Bird Rescue

Note: First person post by Michelle Bellizzi, Bird Rescue’s Response Manager

After the ficus tree collapsed, Oakland city crews cleaned up the fallen branches. Photo by Michelle Bellizzi–International Bird Rescue

On Wednesday July 10, 2019, I’d just arrived home from work and was getting dinner together, when The Call came in. International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center Manager Isabel Luevano had picked up a message on the hospital phone describing a sad scene: a large ficus tree next to the downtown Oakland U.S. Post Office and used for nesting by the city’s iconic Black-crowned Night-Herons and Snowy Egrets had collapsed, and numerous baby birds had fallen with their nests across a city sidewalk.

Luckily, I live just a short distance away from the site and was able to grab my partner and convince him that saving baby birds was *the* thing to do in the evening, and together we headed down to the site. On our way, I received a text from Response Services Director Barbara Callahan, who had picked up a call on our 24-hour Oil Spill Emergency Hotline about the situation. We were met at the site by JD Bergeron, Bird Rescue’s Executive Director, and his partner Travis (Bird Rescue has a wonderful tradition of wrangling our significant others to step in when needed, and all of our husbands, wives, and partners are angels!), as well as concerned locals and city workers prepared to clean up the mess.

We quickly discovered that the tree in question had split in half, and the City needed to clean the fallen branches from the sidewalk. The remaining half of the tree was in imminent danger of falling as well and would need to be removed.

One of the people on-site was Shirl Simpson, the Branch Manager of the Post Office, and it only took a few moments for Shirl to become one of my favorite people in the world. Upon seeing the downed tree, the nestlings, and the remaining bird nests in the tree, Shirl said unequivocally: “We are going to save these birds – these are OUR birds, and we’re not going to let anything happen to them.” Shirl was the person who had contacted our Emergency Line – she had remembered a Channel 7 story on Bird Rescue and went to “Seven on Your Side” to find our number.

The sight of the tree was intimidating and heartbreaking: half of the tree was down with baby birds in the branches on the ground, and the half that remained standing had approximately 40 nests visible in the canopy…which was 30 feet up and inaccessible without a cherry picker.

“We are going to save these birds – these are OUR birds, and we’re not going to let anything happen to them.” said Shirl Simpson (seated), the Branch Manager of the Post Office, along with JD Bergeron holding a rescued Black-crown Night-Heron. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds–International Bird Rescue

On Wednesday evening, our job was clear: rescue the babies that had fallen and clear the sidewalk, and work on a plan for the remaining tree on Thursday. We sprang into action working alongside the Oakland City workers, carefully searching through the downed branches to extract any babies and handing the cleared branches to the city workers for chipping. We rescued 18 baby herons and egrets, and cleared the downed half of the tree just before dark. The birds were taken back to our Fairfield facility by 9:30 pm.

Later on Thursday and Friday, JD and I returned to the site to collect additional birds and to oversee the complete removal of the tree. Because the tree itself was on Postal Service property, Shirl hired Davey Tree service to remove the birds from their nests and capture unflighted birds in the tree canopy *and* cut the tree in sections as they removed the birds.

JD and I stayed on the ground playing outfielder, collecting the birds from the workers in the picker, and identifying areas in the canopy with birds so the worker was aware of birds moving through the foliage and nest areas. Because of the slow nature of the work, birds were transported to the facility midday and in the evening.

Interestingly, as the workers moved through the tree south to north, the birds got older! Apparently most of the nests on the south side of the tree were nestlings, and the north side of the tree housed the birds that were **just about ready to fledge**. As less and less tree was available to hide in, the birds congregated at the north edge and several proved to be good fliers and able to fly from tree to tree, and the decision was made to not capture them. By noon on Friday, the last branch had been cut, and the last birds were driven to our center so the real work could begin!

News Media Stories

Black-crowned Night-Herons, Snowy Egrets released into wild after surviving Oakland tree collapse, ABC-7-News

Using a cherry picker, Davey Tree Service, helped safely remove other birds and nests before trimming the tree back in front of the Post Office at 13th and Jackson Streets in downtown Oakland. Photo by Michelle Bellizzi–International Bird Rescue

July 12, 2019

Bird Rescue Jumps Into Action in Oakland – Rescuing Baby Birds from Fallen Tree

Birds rescued in Oakland include 50 Snowy Egret chicks and nestlings. All are now in care at Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. 📷 > Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

Disaster struck this week at a large heron and egret rookery in downtown Oakland, CA. A large ficus tree split and partially toppled on Wednesday, sending dozens of baby birds tumbling to the ground.

A concerned citizen saw these birds in crisis and immediately called our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center to come to the rescue. A Bird Rescue team, including JD Bergeron, Executive Director and Michelle Bellizzi, Response Manager, was on the scene right away at Jackson at 13th Streets and began collecting the surviving birds to take into care.

By the end of day on Friday, July 12, teams had rescued a total of 90 birds – including 51 Snowy Egrets, 22 Black-crowned Night-Herons, and 17 eggs.

Meanwhile, back at the clinic, staff and volunteers worked late into the night to prepare special enclosures for the incoming patients and take care of their immediate needs as they arrived.

We are so grateful to be able to care for all of these precious baby birds but rely on the public’s support to cover the costs of care for all of our patients.

Won’t you help us with a donation so these baby birds have a second chance at life?

One of the 22 Black-crowned Night-Herons rescued in Oakland is weighed during intake at our clinic in Fairfield.

What happens when a bird is rescued?

Our partners also deserve praise. They stepped forward to help us, including the Golden Gate Audubon, Oakland post office staff, law enforcement, and Davey Tree Services, the city-hired arborists to rescue the rest of the baby birds from this tree before the tree was taken down.

Our clinic assesses and stabilizes the birds; any eggs collected are put in incubators, and all chicks will need to be hand-fed by staff and volunteers multiple times a day. Each of these rescued birds will require weeks and sometimes months of care before they are able to be released back into a safe environment.

These birds – especially the Black-crowned Night-Herons– hold a special place in the heart of Oakland residents. Earlier this year, local school kids urged and won a petition to have the Oakland City Council declare the Night-Herons the official bird of Oakland. Read more

If too care for wildlife, please contribute what you can to help raise these birds in need!

Thank you for your generous support.

After the initial rescue of baby herons and egrets on Wednesday, a city crew cleans up a large part of a fallen tree in downtown Oakland, CA. IBR photo

On Thursday, working with Davey Tree Service using its cherry picker, teams helped carefuly capture heron and egret chicks and nestlings in the damaged ficus tree. 📷 > Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

Some of the Snowy Egrets rescued from the downtown Oakland rookery. 📷 > Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

JD Bergeron, Executive Director at Bird Rescue, directs rescuers while helping man a safety net to catch chicks and nestlings just in case they fall. 📷 > Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

Black-crowned Night-Herons rescued at Oakland rookery. 📷 > Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

May 27, 2019

It’s Dinosaur Week at Bird Rescue!

Celebrating Baby Herons and Egrets – Modern-Day Dinosaurs!

The connection between the today’s birds and their ancient dinosaur ancestors was first suggested in 1860 with the discovery of the feathered dinosaur, Archaeopteryx, in Germany. Today, when we look at the baby herons and egrets in care at our wildlife centers, that relationship couldn’t be more obvious. From their shape and appearance to the sounds they make, there is no question that these birds are modern-day dinosaurs!

The week of May 27-31, 2019 we will be highlighting the baby dinosaurs that come into care each year and the challenges they face in the modern world. Whether it’s nesting in busy, urban areas or conflicts with people, vehicles, or domestic animals, these birds need our help!

As part of Dinosaur Week, we have two special ways that YOU can take action today to help us raise the hundreds of baby “dinosaurs” that will come to us this year!

Adopt one of these Dino Birds

Each year our wildlife centers take in hundreds of orphaned baby herons and egrets. All of this work is funded through generous donations from supporters like you! To help, you can symbolically adopt one of  baby birds: Adopt a Baby Black-crowned Night-Heron!

Buy a limited edition Dino Bird Rescue t-shirt

In celebration of Baby Dinosaur Week at Bird Rescue, we are releasing a limited edition International Dinosaur Rescue T-Shirt! This design will only be available to order between now and June 2nd–order yours today!

Also, to help celebrate this Dino week we are giving away special dinosaur bird rescue t-shirts. Three lucky winners will chosen this week. Enter to win here

May 10, 2019

This Spring We’re Rescuing Hundreds of Orphaned Ducklings!

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.

 

September 7, 2018

Emurregency: Mara the Murre Update #2

This young Common Murre, named “Mara”  has put on much needed weight. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

Why how she’s grown!

Mara the murre has tripled in weight since she was rescued in Marin County in late July. She arrived into care hungry and anemic and weighing only 240 grams. Her latest weight: 720 grams.

This Common Murre was named for one of our volunteers who was walking her dogs on the beach and spotted the very small bird bobbing in the surf. Thinking fast, the rescuer asked a passerby to secure her dogs and then scooped up the seabird. Afterward she called Marin Animal Control and the bird was transferred to our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center in Fairfield, California..

The young seabird quickly became the bird ambassador for a seabird crisis that has been hitting the Northern California coast. Since mid-July, over 100 murres (rhymes with “furs”) have been admitted into intensive care. Many were starving, anemic and some were contaminated with oil.

After leaving the nest, Baby murres like Mara learn to forage with their fathers. Without parental guidance, and if left alone in the wild, they would slowly starve to death.

You can help birds like Mara by donating to our E-Murre-gency fund to help pay the extraordinary costs associated with this seabird stranding event. Donate now

 

August 28, 2018

E-murre-gency Sparks Seabird Media Attention

Common Murre chicks first day of waterproofing in pool. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds 7/24/18.

August hasn’t been a great month for starving seabirds, but the good news is the media has been shining a light on this crisis. Television and print media has provided outstanding coverage to educate the public about Common Murre and Northern Fulmars affected by changes in ocean environments. Donate

We suspect the surge in starving seabirds that we’ve seen at our California centers is part of a larger environmental problem. From warming oceans to depleted fish stocks, to large-scale seabird die-offs in Alaska, waterbirds are responding to their environments and the results are alarming. To see a list of news articles covering the current #emurregency at International Bird Rescue, see below.

Here’s a list of the top reports:

San Francisco Chronicle: El Niño fears grow as starving baby birds wash up on California beaches

NBC-TV: Alarming Number of Starving Seabirds Dying on Bay Area Beaches

KSBW-TV: Baby ‘penguins’ appearing on Central Coast beaches

Mercury News: California bird rescue group inundated with injured, starving waterbirds

ABC-TV: Starving, abandoned baby murres washing ashore in Bay Area

KCBS Radio: Starving Birds Could Mean El Nino is Coming

August 24, 2018

An Update on Mara the Murre

Mara is spending time with a rescued adult murre who is acting as a surrogate parent during her recovery. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

Dear Supporters,

Thanks to people like you, Mara is slowly recovering from starvation. We’re hand-feeding her every day, filling in for the role her father would have played. She’s also swimming with a rescued adult murre who is acting as a surrogate parent during her recovery. We continue to monitor her progress daily, but it will be many weeks before Mara is strong enough to be released. Continued care for birds like Mara is expensive which is why we still need your help.

Thanks to generous donations made by many individuals and our matching donor, we are almost halfway to our $100,000 goal. As we provide intensive care for an unprecedented number of waterbirds like Mara, the E-murre-gency continues to unfold.

Waterbirds in Crisis
In light of recent government decisions to loosen environmental regulations, NBC-TV Bay Area visited our SF Bay-Delta wildlife center to report first hand about the effects these decisions are having on marine life, including waterbirds like Mara. When the government steps back from environmental protections, non-profits like International Bird Rescue and concerned individuals like you, must STEP UP to fill the gap. We can’t do it alone.

We need to raise $100,000 to cover the cost of this crisis and reach our goal. Please donate today by visiting our Giving Grid campaign or donate directly through our website, and share this message with your friends. All donations made today will be matched dollar for dollar, doubling your impact.

For all those who have already given, thank you for your support – we couldn’t do this work without you. We dream of a world in which every person, every day, takes action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves. Thank you for continuing to help us make that vision a reality.

Sincerely,

The Bird Rescue Team

 

August 21, 2018

Seabird E-murre-gency: Meet Mara

Meet Mara:

Young murres like Mara have been flooding our Northern California wildlife center for the past two months. Little Mara was named after her quick-thinking rescuer who was taking a morning walk on the beach and spotted something peculiar bobbing in the water – it looked like a tiny penguin. Springing into action, she found a passerby to hold her dogs while she rescued the confused and weak baby murre. Like the scores of young murre chicks in our care, Mara was found healthy, yet abandoned. This raises the question – what happened to her parents? Did her parents die from environmental causes? Baby murres like Mara learn to forage from their fathers. Without that guidance if left alone in the wild, they would slowly starve to death.

We have seen an alarming uptick in Common Murres coming into our center. Many were starving, and some were contaminated with oil. Since mid-July, over 100 murres have been admitted into intensive care at our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center in Fairfield, California.

“E-Murre-gency” declared as unprecedented numbers of Common Murres need extensive care. This is a critical moment for waterbirds. From Brown Pelicans unexpectedly falling from the skies to polluted oceans and depleted fish stocks, this has been a challenging season. Increasing environmental challenges mean Bird Rescue is always responding to unexpected situations and struggling to absorb the costs.

We Need Your Help!
Bird Rescue needs to raise $100,000 by August 31st to help with the unexpected burden of caring for many additional birds beyond our budget. Thanks to an anonymous donor, for a limited time your donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to $50,000. Take action and donate now to save twice as many injured or orphaned birds, like Mara!

We dream of a world in which every person, every day takes action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves. Thank you for helping us make that vision a reality.

With Gratitude,
The Bird Rescue Team

 

February 24, 2018

You Can Help Us Raise More Than 2,000 Baby Birds!

Dear Nature Enthusiast,

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!

With Gratitude,

JD Bergeron
Executive Director
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!

July 15, 2017

Photo of the Week: Baby Green Herons

Just when we thought baby season was starting to slow down, these three orphaned Green Heron chicks came into care this week because of human kindness. After the mother heron was struck by a car near Glendale, CA, a Good Samaritan scooped up the brood and delivered them to our Los Angeles wildlife center.

The siblings are self-feeding, which is a sign they are doing well in care. Over the course of 25 days, they will fledge (learn to fly) and they will be released to the wild. Check out this video of this energetic threesome.

To spot a Green Heron in the wild, visit a coastal or inland wetland and carefully scan the banks looking for a small, hunchbacked bird with a long, straight bill. They are quite shy and will fly away if approached too closely. One fascinating fact: Green Herons are a species that are known to use tools. During feeding, they are known to drop small items on the water’s surface to entice small fish, making them true fisher-birds! You can see this behavior on YouTube.

Get the Photo of the Week delivered each week to you e-mail inbox. Sign up here

Photo by staffer Kylie Clatterbuck

 

June 12, 2017

Photo of the Week: Baby Birds…not quite yet!

Our two wildlife centers are inundated with baby birds, but we also have a large number of not-yet-hatchlings!

This week’s photo shows the egg incubator at our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center with a variety of eggs in it. The top row has a number of Western Gull eggs from the ongoing Bay Bridge demolition project, and the bottom row has California Quail eggs. Not shown are two very special eggs — from an American Bittern!

All of these eggs are from abandoned or disturbed nests. Fortunately, we have experience with all three species of hatchling, so we’re ready for any chicks that come along.

To the right is a Western Gull chick from last season, so you can see why we’re eagerly awaiting their hatching.

Photos by Jennifer Linader and Cheryl Reynolds

 

June 6, 2017

Photo of the Week: Baby Grebe

This week we have a nice surprise in the fuzzy silver face of a young diving bird called a grebe. While we are not yet sure if this chick is a Western Grebe or Clark’s Grebe since the two species look quite alike at this age, we are quite sure he is adorable!

This “grebe-ling” was rescued in Clearlake, CA, and is now in care at our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center. While we care for many adult grebes that are sick or injured, we rarely see them at this tender age.

Mother grebes lay 2-4 eggs. The hatching of chicks is not synchronized and the last egg may be abandoned in nest. The young grebe-lings will hitch a ride on a parent’s back as they head out on the water. Baby grebes have a red dot on their forehead that quite amazingly turns darker when the bird is hungry. Aren’t birds incredible?! Learn more: http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/western-grebe

In the meantime, click on the video below or go here to see this beautiful young aquatic bird.

Photo and video by Cheryl Reynolds

 

May 28, 2017

Baby American Coot Helping Feed Younger Coot

After 46 years, it sometimes feels like we have seen it all… but our patients can still bring surprises! American Coot chicks are perhaps some of the oddest babies we get at Bird Rescue. They start out with fire-engine red and yellow head feathers and grow into a relatively drab, dark gray with black heads and white beaks.

Hungry American Coot chick.

These American Coot chicks came in at different times, as can be seen by their size difference. With a little luck, we are able to match orphans of the same species. None of this is unusual.

What is unusual is that whenever we add food to their enclosure, the larger baby coot takes it upon itself to FEED the younger one! Click the video above to see an adorable video clip.

Coots are in the shorebird family Rallidae, along with Gallinules and Rails, and develop into plump chicken-like birds that spend most of their lives on the water. They have remarkable greenish legs and large feet. Learn more: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Coot/id

Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

 

 

May 11, 2017

For Mother’s Day: Adopt a Duckling!

Everybody needs a Mom! These orphaned Ducklings are a reminder that Mother’s Day (May 14th) is just a around the corner. What better way to celebrate than with a bird adoption.

Adopt a bird in your Mom’s name and download a customizable PDF adoption certificate. With a $125 donation you can adopt a clutch of Ducklings. For as little as $25, you can symbolically adopt a single Duckling!

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.

 

April 11, 2017

Don’t Make April the Cruelest Month: Please Trim Trees in the Fall

Released Snowy Egret A69 nesting with chicks at 9th Street Rookery in Santa Rosa, CA. Photo by Susan and Neil Silverman Photography.

April is Baby Dinosaur Month at Bird Rescue! As we celebrate the sometimes-awkward beauty of young egrets and herons, we would also like to make a plea for responsible tree trimming. Bird nests can be hard to spot–from the bird’s perspective, that’s the intention! So please, please do not even think about trimming trees during nesting season. Schedule your trees to be trimmed starting in the fall from September to January and still check thoroughly for occupied nests. The Golden Gate Audubon Society has a helpful page to help guide you here.

Black-crowned Night-Herons in care. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue.

Back in 2014, a federal agency in downtown Oakland contracted with a local tree trimmer to trim ficus trees that were serving as the home of a bustling urban rookery. The results were a horrifying and a number of nesting Black-crowned Night-Herons were killed and injured in the tree trimming. Bird Rescue cared for the ones that were saved from incident. Since that time, however, our friends at Golden Gate Audubon, the Oakland Zoo, and a group of superb volunteers have combined efforts to monitor this rookery, deal with fallen and injured babies, transport them to Bird Rescue for care, and releasing them in public ceremonies to draw more attention to these birds.

Just last year we cared for more than 800 young herons and egrets. Many of them arrived from local rookeries in Santa Rosa, Oakland, Fairfield , and Long Beach. These pre-historic looking water birds take a lot of care and we rely on the generosity of people just like you to help get them back to the wild. Please help by adopting one of these “baby dinosaurs”!

In the meantime, please consider supporting our important work with wildlife. Adopt-a-Heron-Egret or donate. Thanks!