Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Bird Photography

July 23, 2014

Taking flight with Richmond youth!

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All photos © International Bird Rescue-Cheryl ReynoldsSNEG

With the help of some eager young bird watchers, a group of herons and egrets has a new lease on life!

On July 23, we teamed up with the Richmond Police Activities League (or “RPAL”) youth group to set free five Snowy Egrets and three Black-crowned Night Herons at Pt. Pinole Regional Park with a jaw-dropping view of the San Francisco Bay.

Snowy Egrets have long been a bird of special interest — they were hunted to near extinction in the early 20th century for their plumes and have rebounded thanks to the grit and determination of conservationists.

But prior to this summer, many Bay Area residents may have never heard of a Black-crowned Night Heron – that is, until a May tree-trimming incident in Oakland resulted in several orphaned herons falling from their nests. Local and national media descended on this story as five young patients were brought to our San Francisco Bay center with broken bones and scrapes. All were also too young to survive on their own, and were released in early June after several weeks in care.

This year, we’ve raised over 250 young Black-crowned Night Herons and over 130 Snowy Egrets at the San BCNHFrancisco Bay center — far above our usual levels.

So we were very excited this week to team up with Chevron Richmond and the East Bay Regional Parks District to host a release event with RPAL kids on a field trip to Pt. Pinole. After their carriers were carefully carried and opened by team RPAL, the birds flew up into a nearby eucalyptus tree or to some tall grass nearby for cover.

As part of our Snowy Egret project, the egrets released all have red leg bands with a unique identification number. These birds are numbered C44, C45, C46, C47 and C48. If you see these birds in the wild, please report your sighting by emailing us.

International Bird Rescue’s team loves to share our passion for animals with local youth. If you are a local youth group in the Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay Area and you’d like more information on a release outing, please email us!

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. is a longtime supporter of International Bird Rescue’s local and global efforts to save seabirds, and will sponsor the community release of these herons. “We are honored to be a part of the release of these herons and provide RPAL youth with the opportunity to learn more about our environment,” said Kory Judd, Refinery General Manager. “Partnerships with organizations such as the International Bird Rescue are an integral part of our commitment to protecting and preserving the environment.”

Preservation plans for the release site at Breuner Marsh, located within the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, include restoring wetlands and coastline prairie, as well as providing improved public access to the shoreline and a 1.5-mile extension of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Thanks for being our release pals today, RPAL!

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June 9, 2014

Black-crowned Night Herons released in Oakland marsh

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Four of five juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons released at MLK Jr. Shoreline Regional Park in Oakland. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

We think it’s safe to say that most citizens of the Bay Area now know what a Black-crowned Night Heron BCNHis….

The subject of extensive media attention in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, local TV news and NBC’s The Today Show, five baby Black-crowned Night Herons — a federally protected species — were injured in early May after falling from their nests during a tree-trimming incident at a U.S. Post Office location.

All herons were brought to WildCare in Marin County for initial treatment before transfer to International Bird Rescue San Francisco Bay center, which specializes in herons and other aquatic species.

The injured herons have been treated for injuries sustained from the fall, with one baby heron suffering a fractured mandible that required surgery and healed remarkably. Ernesto Pulido, the proprietor of the tree-trimming business, immediately stepped forward to pay for the care of these animals.

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Yassira Murphy, a young birder from Oakland Tech High School, releases a juvenile heron. Photo by Rick Lewis via Golden Gate Audubon

Fast-forward to this past Saturday, where we were proud to work with Golden Gate Audubon Society on a release event at Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline Park in Oakland. Four of the five herons from this incident were successfully released; the fifth is still in care but doing well (a fifth bird ready for release joined the other four at MLK Shoreline’s New Marsh). Thank you to Mr. Pulido as well for stopping by!

These are some of the dozens of herons we’ve cared for this season. You can support their ongoing care here.

Other good news: Our friends at Golden Gate Audubon have put together a wonderful pamphlet on tree-trimming and baby birds season that you can download here. A Spanish-language version will be released soon.

And thank you to all the birders who came out to see our patients off! We were happy to see these young herons start hunting for prey at the marsh within a half hour of release.

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June 9, 2014

Black Rail, banded and released

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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 1, 2014

Weekend muses: An egret family

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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.

April 29, 2014

Close call for a mother duck and her ducklings

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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.

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April 28, 2014

An update on “Pink” the pelican

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Dr. Rebecca Duerr with “Pink” during the animal’s first surgery, photos by Bill Steinkamp.

After a week filled with heartbreaking images of our latest animal cruelty patient, we’re pleased to give you some good news today: BRPE

The adult California Brown Pelican mutilated by an unknown suspect has completed a successful first surgery to repair an extensive pouch laceration, one consistent with human-caused injury.

Click here for the backstory on this bird, nicknamed “Pink” for the colored leg band we assigned the animal upon arrival at our Los Angeles center.

On Sunday afternoon, IBR veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr performed the three-hour procedure assisted by Los Angeles center rehabilitation staff. We are hopeful for this bird’s recovery, though multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitative care are needed.

Another bit of good news: the Animal Legal Defense Fund announced today that it has doubled its commitment to a reward in this case, which now totals $10,000 and includes the support of concerned citizens in the Los Angeles area.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) currently is seeking information on this federal crime, which is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and a jail sentence of up to six months. Anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the mutilation of this bird should contact USFWS at 310-328-1516. Tips may be given anonymously.

“In my 40-plus years as a wildlife rehabilitator, I’ve seen too many of these horrible attacks against innocent animals,” said Slashed-pelican-fundInternational Bird Rescue executive director Jay Holcomb. “The public is sick of it too, and we hear their frustration. We as a society cannot and should not tolerate these crimes any longer.”

IBR depends on the support of the public to care for animals injured in cruelty incidents, as well as those harmed by fishing wound and other human-caused injuries. To make a donation, please click on the “Slashed Pelican Fund” image to the right. Thank you so much.

Previous coverage:

“Pink” the pelican, animal cruelty victim

Reward offered: Brown Pelican with severe laceration, suspect sought

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April 18, 2014

A Red-breasted Merganser at our SF Bay center

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

RBMEThis female Red-breasted Merganser was found at Main Beach in Santa Cruz on April 6 and was transported to us via our wildlife partners at Native Animal Rescue on Saturday.

Upon intake, she was found to be emaciated with poor feather quality, and was suffering from toe abrasions, a likely result of being out of water for multiple days, rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano reports. She also lacked crucial waterproofing and was determined to be contaminated from fish oil and feces.

The merganser received a quick wash on Monday and is now acclimating to an outdoor pool, where she’s gaining wait and eating plenty of fish.

Red-breasted Mergansers are one of three species of mergansers in North America. Known for their thin, serrated bills to catch fish prey, Red-breasted Mergansers are “bold world traveler[s], plying icy waters where usually only scoters and eiders dare to tread,” 10,000 Birds notes. “While all mergansers are swift fliers, the Red-breast holds the avian record for fastest level-flight at 100 mph.”

Red-breasted Merganser # 14-0243 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

April 3, 2014

Flying practice for pelican Red #308

Brown Pelican (red band) in care at SF Bay Center
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Recently, we wrote about pelican conservation on the Pacific Coast in this Los Angeles Times op-ed. The star of the piece was Brown Pelican Red #308, who came to us several months ago with a severe injury to his left patagium (a fold of skin on the leading edge of the wing) caused by an embedded fishing hook.

After months of care, our team is giving him regular flying workouts in the pelican aviary, and with each pass, he’s getting stronger. It’s a remarkable testament to the resiliency of this iconic species.

Cheryl Reynolds recently took these snapshots of the pelican testing his wings out in the aviary.

Brown Pelican (red band) in care at SF Bay Center

Brown Pelican (red band) in care at SF Bay Center

March 13, 2014

Patient of the week: Pied-billed Grebe

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PBGRPied-billed Grebe, photo by Isabel Luevano

As our animal care team and volunteers can tell you, Pied-billed Grebes are born feisty, hard to catch from the diving bird pools due to their quickness and quite willing to chomp on a finger if approached. (“They bite like little alligators,” one rehab technician tells us.) But we all admire their moxie.

We currently have several species of grebes on our San Francisco Bay center’s BirdCam, including this adult Pied-billed Grebe. This bird was found in Santa Cruz with puncture wounds consistent with a predator attack. The grebe is doing well in an outdoor diving bird pool.

Also in this pool are two Western Grebes, an Eared Grebe and a Horned Grebe. (The one non-grebe impostor? A Canvasback.) You can read more on this amazing family of aquatic birds at Cornell Lab of Ornithology.