Every Bird Matters
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Bird Rescue In The Community

July 1, 2020

Stuck In The Mud, Struggling Brown Pelican Saved By Community Rescuers

A rescue team from Alameda Fire Department, guided by a concerned citizen, capture a Brown Pelican tethered to discarded fishing tackle and stuck in the mudflats. Photos: Cindy Margulis – International Bird Rescue

A Brown Pelican in Alameda, CA that was stuck in the mud and tethered to discarded fishing tackle is alive today and in care at International Bird Rescue after a heartwarming community rescue effort.

On June 23th a newly retired Lincoln Middle School teacher, Sharmaine Moody, noticed a Brown Pelican that appeared to be stuck in the offshore mudflat between the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary and the Bay Farm Bridge during low tide. As it struggled to get airborne, other pelicans became alarmed and kept circling in the air over the young bird. Eventually the other pelicans left to forage elsewhere, but Sharmaine kept returning to monitor the stranded pelican at different tidal conditions to try to ensure there would be a chance for a boat rescue to work in a higher tide.

After rescue, the Brown Pelican was transferred to a large transport carrier and driven to Bird Rescue’s wildlife center in Fairfield.

A call was made to the Alameda Fire Department for help rescuing this pelican in peril. When Battalion Chief David Buckley was confident there was sufficient fire coverage in town on June 24th, he deployed Alameda’s Rescue Boat 01 crew, manned by firefighters Ty, Roland, & Nick. As soon as their Zodiac approached the pelican, they realized how stranded this poor bird was. When they tried to lift the pelican with a net, they felt the tug of the entanglement beneath it, preventing them from getting the bird out of the water. An assortment of fishing gear, including wads of monofilament line, had to be cut off before they were able to bring the pelican up into the rescue craft. Back at the boat launch, even more fishing gear had to be cut away to get the pelican out of the net.

In care at our center in Fairfield: Brown Pelican following rescue.

With the help of Sharmaine Moody and former Bird Rescue volunteer, Linda Vallee, the injured pelican was quickly transported to our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center in Fairfield for emergency veterinary care. The young Brown Pelican is currently in serious but stable condition. It suffered severe constriction wounds to its leg and damage to its wings from the fishing line entanglement that will require many weeks in care to heal.

Special thanks are due to the Alameda Fire Department for their rescue heroics last week, as well as to Sharmaine Moody and Linda Vallee for keeping track of the pelican’s predicament until a rescue could be arranged. It truly takes a community to protect our natural world and the wildlife we share it with.

This case is not only a strong reminder of the needless suffering and bodily harm that stray fishing gear and monofilament fishing line can cause for wildlife, but also the positive impact individuals can have when they take action on behalf of animals in need.

Preventing Needless Suffering Starts Here

The Reel In and Recycle program is a good step towards encouraging recycling fishing line.

There are simple actions everyone can take to help prevent needless suffering for wildlife, including birds and marine mammals, and also reduce entrapment risks for swimmers in local shorelines, too. We encourage all fishermen to remove all their gear from the water and shoreline.

If you come across any discarded fishing line, make sure that it gets deposited into a proper receptacle. Alameda, and many other fishing locations throughout California have specialized bins for recycling monofilament, which are part of the national Reel In & Recycle Program.  When specialty receptacles aren’t available, you can cut the monofilament into small pieces and dispose of it in a lidded trash container. If you would like your local park or pier to implement a fishing line recycling program, contact your harbormaster or local parks department.

In recent years other bird species in nearby waters have been adversely affected by cast off fishing gear. Four Ospreys in the Alameda area have been entangled in fishing line and gear, including one confirmed to have died from its injuries.  Just last month, another local Osprey female at Alameda Point had to be trapped on her nest in order to remove an entanglement.

March 31, 2019

Albatross Adventures: Special Evening Hosted in a Very Special Community!

JD Bergeron, Executive Director of International Bird Rescue, shares his experiences volunteering on Midway Atoll with audience in Berkeley. Photo by Russ Curtis-International Bird Rescue

Bird Rescue was thrilled to host a special public evening event on March 28, 2019, in Berkeley, CA –the birthplace of our first wildlife center back the 1970s. Our Executive Director, JD Bergeron, shared a lively and inspiring presentation “Albatross Adventures: Finding Wisdom on Midway Atoll” about his experience as one of 18 individuals conducting the 2019 Nesting Albatross Census on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, which hosts the largest colony of Laysan Albatross on the planet.

Nesting Laysan Albatrosses on Midway Atoll. Photo by JD Bergeron-International Bird Rescue

This special evening was held at the David Brower Center and brought a unique opportunity for staff and volunteers to connect face-to-face with over 120 Bird Rescue friends and supporters. We visited with many familiar faces and heard memorable and heartwarming stories from former volunteers, oil-spill responders, neighbors and even friends of our founder Alice Berkner, who resided in Berkeley herself.

The beautiful Brower Center’s unique history as an advocate for the environmental movement made it a perfect location to share the story of this important wildlife refuge and essential nesting habitat.

JD Bergeron presented about Midway Atoll not only as a geopolitical and strategic hot spot, but also as a critically important habitat for several species of wildlife including the Laysan Albatross. Midway Atoll is home to the largest nesting colony on the planet and JD’s specific mission was to participate in the nesting count. He described the steps and tools necessary to achieve the massive undertaking and shared the final result of all their work – approximately 600,000 nests counted!

A very warm thank you to everyone who joined us for Albatross Adventures! We had a great time gathering with friends and supporters to celebrate our work and hearing your stories about why seabirds matter to you.

Also see: Midway Atoll: Seabird Sanctuary

March 20, 2018

Birding the Napa River with International Bird Rescue and Sierra Club’s Solano Group: A Flyway Festival Outing

Editor’s Note: This piece was prepared by Sierra Club trip leader, Phil Kohlmetz.

International Bird Rescue’s Executive Director, JD Bergeron, leads a group of nature enthusiasts on a birding walk.

On Saturday, February 10, 2018, International Bird Rescue collaborated with the Sierra Club for a special birding experience in conjunction with the 2018 Flyway Festival (an annual celebration of migratory birds traveling through the San Francisco Bay Area).

The walk was a rare chance to participate in a program led by Bird Rescue’s own Executive Director JD Bergeron. He partnered with passionate naturalist, veteran backpacker, and local Sierra Club trip leader, Phil Kohlmetz. The two led a dozen people on a guided walk along the Napa River in American Canyon, CA, not far from our San Francisco Bay Area/Delta Wildlife Center. The location was special to Bird Rescue, as we often release rehabilitated birds at this very location.

The group walked 4 miles along the levees of the Napa River Bay Trail. (Quite far for many birders!) JD shared his love and deep knowledge of migratory aquatic birds, songbirds, and raptors, noting over 60 different species. Phil highlighted local environmental restoration efforts, as this area was once home to an active landfill, as well as a massive salt harvesting operation. In addition, Phil talked about local efforts to create a regional park district to administer and further protect this sensitive and restored habitat.

Participants included experienced birders and current supporters of International Bird Rescue, Solano County residents, Sierra Club members, first-time birders, and long-time naturalists. The mix of skill and interest levels meant lots of opportunities for education and cross-pollination. While the focus was certainly on bird identification, we discussed other natural processes such as reclamation, plant succession, and avian migration.

Programs like this are a great example of the types of partnerships that Bird Rescue is developing as we put our new mission (inspiring stewardship of our global waters by rescuing and protecting aquatic birds) into practice.

Follow our social media feed and our website for upcoming opportunities to participate directly with Bird Rescue’s public education programs:
www.bird-rescue.org.