Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Bird Photography

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

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.

March 10, 2014

Release! Rhinoceros Auklets, Glaucous-winged Gull and a Common Murre

Rhinocerous Auklet at SF Bay Center banded for release
Rhinoceros Auklet in breeding plumage, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Residents of the North Pacific, Rhinoceros Auklets are also known as “Unicorn Puffins” for the small horn extension on their beaks, present in both males and females during breeding season. We’ve had two of these birds in care at our San Francisco Bay center for several weeks.

One of these birds was suffering from a wing injury, while the other was emaciated upon intake. Both had been part of our “seabird menagerie” on BirdCam, and were released over the weekend near Half Moon Bay where they were originally found. Below, volunteer Colin Pierce does the release honors.

Rhinocerous Auklet at SF Bay Center banded for release
Rhinoceros Auklet in non-breeding plumage, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

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Also on the release docket: this first-winter plumage Glaucous-winged Gull, healed after a fractured radius, and a beautiful Common Murre!


Common Murre at SF Bay Center ready for release

Common Murre at SF Bay Center banded for release  Murre Release

March 7, 2014

Sora Rail with clavicle fracture

Photo by Isabel Luevano

Sora Rails — marsh-dwelling birds of the family Rallidae — are fairly common patients at both our wildlife centers in California. This Sora was found unable to walk or stand, and was transferred to our San Francisco Bay center from nearby Lindsay Wildlife Museum last week.

Upon arrival, the bird had regained the ability to stand and walk, but was found to have a clavicle fracture. The fracture is now healing thanks to a body wrap.

March 6, 2014

In care this week: Canvasback

Photo by Isabel Luevano

If you come across across a Canvasback sitting in a busy parking lot, chances are there’s something wrong. That’s what happened with this male Canvasback, found in a San Francisco parking lot and brought to us last week.

As you can see here, the bird has a waterproof “shoe” which helps stabilize a fracture. He’s currently recuperating in one of our diving bird pools, and can be seen live on our BirdCam.

February 15, 2014

Patient of the week: Marbled Godwit

Photo by Kelly BerryMarbled-Godwit

The Marbled Godwit is the largest of four godwit species — shorebirds with long bills used to probe for mollusks and aquatic worms.

One of our Los Angeles center’s new patients is this Marbled Godwit, found injured in Isla Vista, CA on February 9. The bird was found unable to stand and had blood on its face. Upon the godwit’s transfer to IBR on February 12, dried blood was found behind the left ear consistent with head trauma of unknown cause.

The good news is that this bird is now standing and receiving supportive care. We’ll keep you posted on its condition.

February 13, 2014

In care: Pelagic Cormorant

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This beautiful Pelagic Cormorant was found with multiple fishing hook injuries. Our friends at California Wildlife Center removed the hooks and transferred the bird to our L.A. center, where it’s recovering from the wounds in an outdoor aviary.

Wildlife rehab is all about teamwork!

Photo by Kelly Berry.


February 7, 2014

Fulmars at the San Francisco Bay center

Northern Fulmar in care at SF Bay Center.
Close-up of the Northern Fulmar’s distinctive tubenose, photo by Cheryl Reynolds.

This month, the most abundant species in our care is the Northern Fulmar. Our San Francisco Bay center NOFUis currently caring for 17 of these birds. Though this species is normally far out at sea, these birds were found unable to fly along the coastline in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Monterey. You can see some of these birds live on our BirdCam.

Upon intake, they were all found to be emaciated, anemic and dehydrated. We are currently looking into potential causes for their condition.

A member of the family Procellariidae that includes albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters, the Northern Fulmar has a distinctive tubenose structure on the top of its bill that helps remove salt from its system via a saline solution that passes through the nostril.

Northern Fulmar in care at SF Bay Center.
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

In recent years, fulmars have been studied as a biomonitor for measuring marine plastic debris, in part because they feed exclusively at sea. One study in 2012 found a staggering 92.5% of the fulmars examined had plastic in their stomachs — detritus from fishing line and Styrofoam to bottle caps and shards of indeterminate origin.

Northern Fulmar in care at SF Bay Center.
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Northern Fulmar in care at SF Bay Center.
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Photo by Isabel Luevano

Photo by Isabel Luevano



January 6, 2014

Release! Western Grebe and Canada Goose

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Western Grebe photos by Bill Steinkamp

Volunteer photographer Bill Steinkamp recently took these release photos of birds rehabilitated at our Los Angeles center in San Pedro: a Western Grebe and a Canada Goose. A great way to start 2014!

Here, an IBR volunteer releases the Western Grebe at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.

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This Canada Goose (below) had previously suffered from an impacted esophagus and was captured by Linda Slauson. During the course of its care, the goose gained a full 2,000 grams (About 4 ½ lbs.).

You can see the goose ready for release below (alongside Sheila Callaghan, left, and Jill Brennan), and later jumping back into the water alongside some American Coots and Mallard Ducks, also below, at El Dorado Nature Center in nearby Long Beach, CA.

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Canada Goose photos by Bill Steinkamp

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January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

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We’re overwhelmed with gratitude for the hundreds of bird lovers who made a year-end gift to support International Bird Rescue’s “Every Bird Matters” mission. Thank you!

Happy New Year from all of us at International Bird Rescue. May your 2014 be boundless and free.

December 31, 2013

Patient of the week: Brown Booby

Photos by Isabel LuevanoBRBO

Update, January 18: Check out a video update of this bird’s progress here.

One of the last patients admitted to our San Francicso Bay center in 2013 is this Brown Booby, a very rare visitor to the area. The bird was recently transferred to us from our friends at WildCare in Marin County.

Where did this bird come from? We touched base with Patricia Vader, a sculptor in Martinez, CA, who brought the bird into care:

Vader: I found the Brown Booby about 1/4 mile south of the Point Reyes North Beach north parking lot (see map below for location). Time and date about 1:45pm on December 26, a very warm and sunny clear day, at least 64F, almost no wind.

I had taken a hike along the beach with my husband and dogs from the north parking lot down to almost the south parking lot, and on the way out there was no bird in sight. The tide was just coming up. About an hour later on our way back, I saw that bird on the wet sand, about 10 ft from the water line. I immediately sensed something unusual about it, because it seemed awkward and barely moved. I observed it for a little while and thought it might be injured. It also looked like it was shivering, not just the wind blowing its feathers. Nobody except us had been on this part of the beach that day, all other visitors staying closer to the parking lot. There were no other birds of any kind in sight, and the beach was very clean (no garbage, only flotsam wood and kelp).

Brown Booby found at Point Reyes (blue marker on the left) and transferred International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center in Fairfield (right) via WildCare in San Rafael.

When I approached the bird, it could barely move away a few feet. … I caught it by throwing the small towel I had over it and then wrapping it in my clothes. It did not offer any bodily resistance except for trying from time to time to peck its surroundings, thrusting out its long neck.

The good news is that the booby has put on significant weight since it came to the center, and at last report was doing well in our large outdoor aviary, sharing the enclosure with a Brown Pelican, a cormorant and several gulls.

We’ll keep you posted on this bird’s continued rehabilitation! And thank you to Patricia for making a symbolic adoption of this bird. Find out more about our Adopt a Bird Program here.


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Brown Booby in the large outdoor aviary, photo by Julie Skoglund

December 26, 2013

Release! Cackling Geese


Many thanks to wildlife photographer and naturalist Jim Hanlon, who took these recent photos of International Bird Rescue volunteer Dave Weeshoff (pictured above in the blue ballcap) and two fellow bird lovers releasing two Cackling Geese cared for at IBR’s Los Angeles center. The release took place at Sepulveda Basin Nature Reserve on December 23.

Click here for the latest count of birds in care.



Cackling Goose Release 12-23-13

Cackling Goose Release_2 12-31-13

Here are a few shots from Weeshoff’s lens:





Jim Hanlon’s photos of an American White Pelican release, December 2012

Cackling Goose profile on All About Birds

December 21, 2013

Patient of the week: American Wigeon


Wigeon IMG_4596-L
AMWIPhotos by Bill Steinkamp

Our patient of the week comes from International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center, which has been taking care of this juvenile American Wigeon for several days. Volunteer photographer Bill Steinkamp recently took a few snapshots of the bird recovering in a special waterfowl pen.

This wigeon was found on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles — hardly a suitable habitat for a dabbling duck such as this one. Upon intake, the bird was found to have thin body condition and poor blood values. But after regaining its waterproofing, the wigeon was placed in an outdoor pen.

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Below, a photo of what an adult male American Wigeon looks like, via Wikimedia Commons.


December 6, 2013

Patient of the week: Wilson’s Snipe

Snipe, Wilson's IMG_3933-L
Photo by Bill SteinkampSnipe Infographic

Our latest patient of the week comes from International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center, which at last count was caring for 42 birds, including Ruddy Ducks, Horned Grebes and a Rhinoceros Auklet.

The Wilson’s Snipe was considered to be a subspecies of the Common Snipe until a decade ago, and is known for a very long bill that the bird uses to probe for prey in soft mud. Here, this snipe is evaluated prior to release.

Banding photos by Paul Berry



Following its final evaluation and banding, our team took this snipe to suitable marsh habitat in the area, where it can be seen below expertly camouflaged among the reeds. Can you find him?

Release photos by Paul Berry