Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Baby Birds

June 9, 2014

Black Rail, banded and released

Photo by Isabel Luevano

An elusive bird that hides in thick marsh vegetation, the Black Rail is listed as a near-threatened species (and formally listed as a threatened species by the State of California).BLRA

The rail’s wetland habitat, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) notes, “is threatened by pollution, drought, wildfires, groundwater removal, changing water levels, grazing and agricultural expansion.”

This spring, our San Francisco Bay center cared for a baby Black Rail, a victim of cat predation that suffered a broken mandible. Researchers with the Black Rail Project at the University of California-Berkeley banded the bird once its injuries had healed and it was old enough to be released.

We’re happy to report this bird was released at Petaluma Marsh, where it was originally found!

June 5, 2014

Bay Area bird lovers: You’re invited to a heron release!

Release site at MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline Park in Oakland

At least two of the young Black-crowned Night Herons injured during an Oakland tree-trimming incident that made national headlines have healed from their wounds and are ready for release in East Bay marsh habitat on Saturday, June 7. And you’re invited!


WHEN: Saturday, June 7 at 1 P.M.

WHERE: Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park, Southwest entrance across from 80 Swan Way (see map above).

WHO: This event is hosted by International Bird Rescue and Golden Gate Audubon Society, longtime partners in the conservation of local aquatic birds.

The remaining birds from this incident continue to receive care from International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center until they are old enough to be released. All of them are on track and doing well!

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June 4, 2014

IBR veterinarian on NBC’s Today Show Talking About Injured Baby Herons

Our own staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr was on The Today Show to talk about Bird Rescue’s care of injured baby herons from an unfortunate situation in Oakland, CA involving the trimming of ficus trees that disrupted an urban rookery.

Young Black-crowned Night-Herons saved from the Oakland tree-trimming event. Photo: International Bird Rescue

We are proud to have reached out to the proprietor of the tree-trimming business, Ernesto Pulido, early on in this case. Mr. Pulido was contrite and offered remuneration for the cost of the birds’ care, which included surgical procedures.

In mid-May, we invited Mr. Pulido to our San Francisco Bay center to check in on these animals — an invitation he quickly accepted. It was a wonderful meeting; we believe this situation can serve as a powerful cautionary tale on the consequences of tree-trimming in the spring, when nesting is in high gear.

Meanwhile, the injured birds are doing well at our center and are nearing a release date.

More: Director’s note on the Oakland heron incident


June 1, 2014

Weekend muses: An egret family

Photo © Silvermans Photography

If only all of our family portraits could be this perfect …

A banded Snowy Egret cared for by our SF Bay center team, now in the wild and with chicks.

Check out photographers Susan and Neil Silverman’s work at silvermansphotography.com.

May 9, 2014

Director’s note on the Oakland heron incident



We appreciate all the support of the community over the past several days regarding the incident at a heron rookery in Oakland, CA, and we understand the outrage that many are feeling.

International Bird Rescue (IBR) wants everyone to know that the proprietor of the tree-trimming business has committed to funding the care of the five chicks that were rescued from that location — one of which required surgery by our veterinarian to repair a fractured mandible. The investigation in this case will be handled by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which has jurisdiction over migratory bird issues.

Since this story broke, we’ve seen reports in the media that the tree-trimming business proprietor and his family have been the targets of severe harassment. I want to make it clear that we at IBR strongly condemn any harassment or threats against this individual and his family. We ask that all concerned citizens allow this case to be handled by the authorities and refrain from any retaliatory behavior.

In the meantime, we are directing all our energy into the care and treatment of these wonderful animals. IBR will continue to post updates on the birds and this case as it progresses. You can watch some of these birds on our live BirdCam.

How can you help? These five birds are just a fraction of the total baby birds in care at our wildlife centers. You can support this lifesaving care here.

Thank you,

Jay Holcomb-Signature

Jay Holcomb

May 7, 2014

Baby herons survive woodchipper incident in Oakland

Photo by Isabel Luevano

A grisly scene emerged out of the San Francisco Bay Area when tree trimmers in Oakland recently were allegedly caught feeding downed branches full of Black-crowned Night Heron nests and chicks directly into a woodchipper. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Officials at the downtown post office ordered nearby trees trimmed Saturday because nesting birds were defecating on the mail trucks.

The result, witnesses said, was a feathery massacre that ended with nests – and baby birds – fed through a wood chipper, hysterical neighbors protesting in the street, and a call to Oakland police officers, who ordered the trimmers to stop.

Now, state and federal wildlife officials are investigating the matter, because the nest destruction and bird deaths may have violated the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“I’m devastated. That someone could do that without even looking to see if there are nests, could have so little empathy … it’s heart wrenching,” said Stephanie Benavidez, Oakland’s supervising naturalist. “The public was incensed, rightfully.” [Read the full story here.]

Residents in the neighborhood brought surviving chicks into the care of wildlife rehabilitators. The five saved babies were tile_sponsorultimately transferred to our San Francisco Bay center in Fairfield, where they’re currently being taken care of in a warm incubator. In addition to scrapes and bruises on the birds, one orphan underwent surgery to repair a fractured mandible.

We’ll keep you posted on this story as well as the condition of the birds. In the meantime, check out some of the rescued Herons on our BirdCam

April 29, 2014

Close call for a mother duck and her ducklings

Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

How many baby birds do we have in care right now? A lot.

For instance: By last count at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center, our team was caring for over 70 Mallard Ducklings, as well as baby Black-crowned Night Herons, Green Herons and mergansers. And the numbers continue to climb as orphaned birds are brought to our center from all over Northern California.

All of these baby birds have a story to tell. Here’s just one of them, via rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano:

On Saturday, we received a phone call about a mother Mallard Duck and her eight ducklings, found in downtown Fairfield, CA at a local Sears Auto Shop. The workers there were concerned to see mom and her clutch journeying straight across a busy four-lane boulevard. We’ve seen this scenario before, and it’s always heart-stopping (take, for instance, this now-famous video of a mother and clutch crossing a freeway via CNN).

Animal Control officers jumped in to help along with one of our local volunteers, who had stopped by that area. Together they were able to catch the mother duck and her ducklings.

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As it happens, this mother Mallard has a federal band on her leg, which we found was put on the bird last year — with the exact same rescue and story. She had tried to take on the busy traffic with her ducklings and was ultimately rescued and relocated then, too. She survived yet another year, only to find herself in the same situation, stuck in the middle of an urban area with ducklings in tow.

Thankfully, the birds were all healthy and relocated to a rural area to complete their journey. Below, a parting shot of their release.




April 8, 2014

Ducklings at our wildlife centers

Mallard Ducklings in care at SF Bay Center

With the arrival of the year’s first ducklings, baby bird season is upon us again, and we need your help.

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Landscaped yards, road medians and industrial landscaping have replaced many natural nesting areas for waterfowl. After their eggs hatch, ducks and geese walk their young to the water facing man-made obstacles such as storm drains, fences, cars, pets and people. Hazards like these leave hundreds of wild ducklings and goslings orphaned each year, and International Bird Rescue is honored to take responsibility for their care and subsequent release. But we can’t do it alone.

Volunteer coordinator and ace photographer Cheryl Reynolds snapped a few photos of our recent arrivals. Enjoy! (And adopt!)

It is the generosity of donors like you that makes this life-saving work possible.

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Mallard Ducklings in care at SF Bay Center

Mallard Ducklings in care at SF Bay Center

April 7, 2014

Orphan season: Green Heron

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Over the past week, both International Bird Rescue’s wildlife centers in California received orphaned baby birds.

Our Los Angeles center is caring for four orphaned ducklings, while our San Francisco Bay center has Canada goslings, Mallard ducklings and a Green Heron, shown above being fed via puppet surrogate. This patient was found in Discovery Bay, CA with injuries, and re-nesting was unfortunately not an option.

The heron is currently in an incubator within the center’s ICU, which is kept at a very warm temperature. During clinic hours, you can catch him/her on our live BirdCam.

Baby Green Heron Adoption

March 29, 2014

Patient of the week: orphaned Canada Gosling, treated for leg fracture

CAGOPhoto by Isabel Luevano

Our first orphaned baby bird of the year has arrived. (Update: And we now have this bird on our live BirdCam.)

Among the patients in care at our San Francisco Bay center is this Canada Gosling, found injured at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek, CA and transferred to us from our partners at Lindsay Wildlife Museum.

Our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, splinted the fractured tarsometatarsus as you can see in the photo above. The gosling is currently in a warm incubator, and we’re limiting human contact to avoid habituation.

Goslings grow incredibly fast, reports rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano. “He weighed 77 grams yesterday, and today he weighs 95,” she says.

We expect him (or her) to heal quickly. Once large enough, we’ll place this orphan in a special enclosure with shallow water and plenty of food.

Further reading on Canada Geese:

• Canada Goose profile on All About Birds

• Profile on National Geographic

• Canada Goslings on YouTube

• Also: Found a baby bird? Audubon gives tips on what to do.

Membership-tallyOne week in, we’re over halfway to our spring drive online goal of $25,000. Will you join us? You can make a donation at any level, or become a sustaining member as part of our Seabird Circle. We never know when the next wildlife emergency will strike, sending stricken birds to our doors, but thanks to the generosity of donors like you, we can be prepared to care for them whenever they arrive.






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Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

July 7, 2013

Weekend snapshots: Gull chick feedings at the San Francisco Bay center

Feeding hatchling Western Gull with puppet at SF Bay Center 7/6/13
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

New arrivals at our San Francisco Bay center: these gull chicks, shown above at feeding time via puppet feeder. The feather duster shown below acts as a surrogate parent.

Photo by Michelle Bellizzi

Newly hatched Western Gull 7/5/13 at SF Bay Center
Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Feeding hatchling Western Gull with puppet at SF Bay Center 7/6/13

Feeding hatchling Western Gull with puppet at SF Bay Center 7/6/13

July 4, 2013

Duckling Independence Day!


A very Happy Fourth of July to all our bird blog readers!

As you get ready for BBQs and fireworks displays today, we wanted to share a heartwarming story from our Los Angeles wildlife care center team:

Photo by Jennifer Gummerman

This mother duck arrived on Monday at our L.A. center with her 10 baby ducklings. Earlier, they had been found in a residential area, where one of the ducklings had fallen into a storm drain. Thanks to an animal control officer, the duckling was saved, and the animals were transferred out of this urban area and to our center. Mama duck had very minor wounds to her wrists and her babies were all in good condition, volunteer coordinator and wildlife rehabilitation technician Neil Uelman says. She was placed in this enclosure with her babies to await release.

But there’s another wrinkle to this story: As you can see in the photo above, this duck has a metal federal band. And it was our band! Uelman reports:

The mallard mom was brought to us back on June 2, 2012 for being stuck in an apartment complex with her seven baby ducklings. It was also the same animal control officer that caught her up and brought the duck in with her ducklings that time. I was actually the one to receive this bird at the clinic and to do the intake on the bird that day. She as well as her baby ducklings were all in good condition. We kept her for two days, and then I did the release of her at a nice spot in El Dorado Nature Center.

In the video below, mama duck with this season’s clutch are released at Madrona Marsh Preserve in Torrance. Madrona is the last remaining vernal marsh in Los Angeles County.

Mallard Duckling at SF Bay Center

July 2, 2013

A kaleidoscopic coot chick

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Photos by Bill Steinkamp


Photo by Diane Carter

As one of our Facebook fans recently put it, “You wouldn’t think such a plain adult would come from such a psychedelic chick.”

While American Coot adults have gray/black bodies and white bills, their chicks by contrast have a rebellious streak, including this bird in care at our Los Angeles center.

According to a 1994 study published in Nature, the more colorful the plumage, the better chance for survival in this species. “[P]arent coots feed ornamented chicks preferentially over non-ornamented chicks, resulting in higher growth rates and greater survival for ornamented chicks,” researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of Calgary wrote. “Moreover, we show that parental preference is relative, rather than absolute, an important element in the evolution of exaggerated traits.”

A member of the Rallidae family that includes crakes and gallinules, coots are year-round residents in local freshwater wetlands.

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This coot came to us via California Wildlife Center last Friday, and is now self-feeding, having gained 12 grams in the past few days, rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports. What’s on the menu for this bird? Mealworms, as you can see here, along with other types of food including cut-up smelt and bloodworms.

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June 29, 2013

An American Kestrel foster dad

Video via WildCare 

One of our favorite bird stories this month is of an American Kestrel named Kele, shown above fulfilling his  “foster dad” duties with a baby kestrel at IMAG0319WildCare in San Rafael.

Two years ago, Kele originally came to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center via members of the public who had noticed that this bird was quite fearless around humans.

Clinic staff kept the bird for several months, rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano reports, as they wanted to be absolutely sure that this bird would be a good candidate as an educational bird rather then a wild bird.

Once this determination was made, Wildcare offered to work with the kestrel, where he is now a wonderful educational animal/surrogate father for orphaned kestrels.

Read more on Kele at the Marin Independent Journal. (Hat tip to Karen Sheldon for sending us this story.)


June 18, 2013

Surrogate parents at our Los Angeles center

Photos and video by Paul Berry

Canada goslings, Mallard ducklings and Western Gull chicks (shown above) are among many common orphaned birds cared for each year at our centers. Whenever possible, we introduce a surrogate parent so that baby birds imprint on their own species — a critical aspect of bird development.


We currently have two such surrogates at our L.A. wildlife care center. One is this Canada Goose (above), transferred from a partner wildlife rehab organization in the Los Angeles region. L.A. center staffer Neil Uelman reports that this bird had been found in a medical office parking lot in Agoura Hills with a suspected head injury, and an exam by our avian veterinarian confirmed a fractured jaw. The goose began physical therapy earlier this month, and the jaw appears to be steadily improving.

During its time at our center, the goose has taken on the task of surrogate parenting for three goslings, two of which are shown in the photo above. “At first the bird was hesitant to be a parent, and then slowly accepted the fact,” Uelman says.


Likewise, this Western Gull has taken over surrogate parenting duties for Western Gull chicks in our care. The adult bird was found at Paradise Cove in Malibu with a severe wing droop as well as skin sloughing from blisters on its left foot. In addition to a regimen of antibiotics and pain medications, we administered a wing wrap which quickly improved the droop. Further treatment to the wing is ongoing, and the bird is recovering in a large outside cage.

Photo by Diana Becker Pereira

Below, baby Western Gulls feed at the center.

Related posts:

Mother duck dies, but removed egg hatches 26 days later