Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Blue-Banded Pelicans

November 20, 2015

Banded Bird Sighting: P63 Brown Pelican spotted in Oregon

Photo Pelican plunge diving

Spotted plunge diving in Oregon, P63 banded Brown Pelican, was originally released in Sausalito, CA in June 2014. Photo by Dwight Porter

We take a lot of pride in our bird-banding program — especially when we get reports on birds sighted hundreds of miles from their release point.

A case in point is P63, a female hatch-year Brown Pelican. P63 was found stranded in June 2014 in Santa Cruz and treated at our San Francisco Bay Center for emaciation, hypothermia, anemia, and miscellaneous minor injuries.

Once P63 was well, she was blue-banded as part of our bird-banding program and released at Fort Baker in Sausalito on July 3, 2014. She was first sighted on March 7, 2015, in Morro Bay, and then again on October 22 while plunge diving in Netarts Bay, Oregon—about 700 miles from her initial release location. We extend our thanks to Dwight Porter of Portland, one of our citizen scientists, who reported his sighting of P63 on our online reporting site and gave us some great photos.

International Bird Rescue puts specific color markers on the bands placed on certain species of birds (as do many other organizations) to aid in the identification of the birds’ band ID numbers. If you spot a bird with a band and/or a color marker, please report your sighting here: http://www.bird-rescue.org/contact/found-a-bird/reporting-a-banded-bird.aspx


July 16, 2015

The Weekly Bittern

Dear supporters of International Bird Rescue,

Pelican Release in San Pedro, CA.

Pelican Release in San Pedro, CA.

Tuesday marked the end of my first week as Executive Director, and what a week it has been!

For my first few days, I had the privilege of being among the incredibly capable team at our southern facility, the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care Center. Led by Operations Manager Julie Skoglund and Center Manager Kelly Berry, the team worked tirelessly to welcome Ian Somerhalder and our partners from Dawn dish detergent as we joined forces to celebrate our many superb volunteers, without whom none of this work with injured and orphaned birds would be possible. Thank you, IBR Volunteers and Interns, for your dedication! Please stop by and say hi when you get a chance. I’d like to meet each of you.

Two orphaned Pied-Billed Grebes are fed every half-hour and cuddle with a feather duster

Two orphaned Pied-Billed Grebes are fed every half-hour and cuddle with a feather duster.

The culmination of the event was the release of three Brown Pelicans and a Western Gull that had finished their rehabilitation and were ready for their return to the wild. I can say firsthand that this is a deeply moving experience, especially as I was given the honor of opening one of the cages. I released the Brown Pelican at the far right of the photo, who I have nicknamed N-20 for the blue band which will be used to track her progress in the future. We invite you to participate by using our citizen scientist reporting tool to document sightings of any blue banded pelican. This information is vital to our ongoing research. I’ll personally be watching closely for news of N-20, N-18, and X-01!

Over the weekend, I was able to meet the equally amazing team of our northern facility, International Bird Rescue – San Francisco Bay. Led by Center Manager Michelle Bellizzi, the northern center is currently working on a massive number of orphaned baby birds, including Green Heron, Snowy Egrets, Black-crowned Night Heron, Pied-Billed Grebes, Western Gulls, Pelagic Cormorants, Brandt’s Cormorants, Common Mergansers, and Mallards.

At both facilities, I have also had the privilege of watching our very talented Veterinarian and Research Director, Rebecca Duerr DVM MPVM PhD, as she administered pelicans, gulls, egrets, and more.

On Wednesday morning at Fort Baker, we also released a Double-Crested Cormorant and another Brown Pelican, the latter of which had been in our care for a full year after devastating damage to her wing and feathers. I’ll share more info on this bird, blue band X-01, next week.

Barbara Callahan, Director of Response Services and Interim Director for the last year, and JD Bergeron, incoming Executive Director.

Barbara Callahan, Director of Response Services and Interim Director for the last year, and JD Bergeron, incoming Executive Director.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not send out special thanks to IBR’s Response Services Director, Barbara Callahan, who has served as Interim Director for the past year. Barbara has led the team through a challenging year and has been gracious and generous with her time and knowledge. She is now taking  much-needed rest. Thank you, Barbara!

There are many ways to support IBR:

adopt a bird

become a recurring donor

join as a Pelican Partner


Please also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flicker, and YouTube

I love to hear from you so please get in touch!

Be well,





JD Bergeron
Executive Director


October 26, 2014

Love pelicans? Here are 5 ways you can help them.

Everyone here at International Bird Rescue is thrilled that Pelican Dreams, a documentary by Judy Irving six years Pelican-Dreams-Final-Poster-A-204x300in the making, takes flight this week in theaters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area — and across the country soon afterwards! Irving has dedicated the film in memory of International Bird Rescue director Jay Holcomb, who died in June at age 63.

This full-length feature follows California Brown Pelicans from their nesting colonies in the Channel Islands and Baja California to feeding grounds along the Pacific coast. As with The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Irving brings a unique style to wildlife documentary filmmaking, one that’s highly intimate, even poetic.

Central to the narrative, Irving zooms in on two injured birds cared for by wildlife rehabilitators. International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center plays a leading role in the film: Viewers will get an intriguing glimpse of our pelican aviary, which can accommodate over 100 pelicans in need of expert care.

International Bird Rescue is a national leader in saving pelicans injured by human-caused threats. Every year, our veterinary and rehabilitation team cares for hundreds of these remarkable birds. We also work with partner organizations on the regional and national level to advocate for comprehensive monitoring of Brown Pelicans, which were removed from the Endangered Species List five years ago but continue to face threats to survival. Click here for a Los Angeles Times op-ed on this issue by International Bird Rescue’s Andrew Harmon.

A growing number of Pelican Dreams fans have asked us how they can help protect and preserve pelicans. We can think of five ways you can make a difference:

1Become a member of International Bird Rescue. We depend on the kindness and generosity of wildlife lovers like you to fulfill our mission to save seabirds and other aquatic species from human-caused problems, such as oil spills, plastic pollution, even animal cruelty.

Starting at $35, membership connects you with fellow pelican aficionados through our e-newsletters. You’ll also AWPE-Cheryl-Reynoldsreceive invites to members-only bird releases and International Bird Rescue events in 2015. Members who contribute $100 or more are eligible for the Puffins and Whale Tails miniprint by International Bird Rescue “artist in residence” David Scheirer. Click here to get started.

Want to make a bigger impact? Become a Pelican Partner and you’ll be invited on a private release of a Brown Pelican cared for at an International Bird Rescue center in California.

2Pick up discarded fishing gear and ocean trash. Fishing gear (think monofilament line, fish hooks and lures) is one of the most common threats to pelicans along our coasts. A large percentage of pelicans admitted to our wildlife centers have fishing gear-related injuries on their throat pouches, legs, wings and feet. Removing this debris from the environment has a direct impact on the health and well-being of pelicans and other seabirds.

3Volunteer. Whether it’s with International Bird Rescue or a partner wildlife group, volunteering is a fantastic way to give back to wildlife in your community and beyond. International Bird Rescue’s volunteer program is a unique, hands-on opportunity to work with animals. We also have volunteer needs in our administrative, development and operations departments. All volunteer duties are vital to the “Every Bird Matters” mission.

4Report sightings of Blue-Banded Pelicans along the Pacific Coast. To better track pelicans post-release, we place large, plastic blue bands with letter/number identification (“V13,” for instance). Birders all along the West Coast have reported hundreds of sightings. If you see a Blue-Banded pelican, please click here to report your sighting — and take a photo of the bird if you can!

5Keep pelicans wild. Like many birds, pelicans are susceptible to habituation. Birds that associate humans with food are more likely to dumpster-dive for scraps, beg on fishing piers, become entangled in fishing line, contaminate themselves with fish oil at fish-cleaning stations, and otherwise become too comfortable with the urban environment, where they are bound to run into problems. Keeping a respectable distance from these wonderful birds and refraining from feeding them is a great way to help keep them wild.

We also invite you to visit Pelican Media and discover more of Irving’s wonderful work. And tell a friend about Pelican Dreams!

 Protecting Pelicans
Protecting Pelicans infographic by Franzi Müller — click on image for full size version.

7564920904_c0ec633e9a_z Pelicans on Duty by Bill Gracey/Flickr; above: American White Pelican by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

September 3, 2014

Protecting Brown Pelicans

Protecting Pelicans by Franzi Muller for International Bird Rescue. Click on image for printable full-size.

It’s been a year of disquieting news about one of our beloved and most common patients, the California Brown Pelican. In the words of one prominent wildlife biologist, “the bottom dropped out” this spring at key pelican breeding sites in Mexico as well as the Channel Islands — the sole nesting site for this subspecies in the United States. Changes in ocean temperature and prey availability are potential suspects.

At International Bird Rescue, we’re committed to individual care of oiled and injured pelicans brought to our wildlife centers in Northern and Southern California. We treat these birds for a variety of reasons. Our graphic artist-in-residence, Franziska Muller of Germany, designed this infographic on threats to pelicans’ survival. We invite you to print out this wonderful image and distribute it wherever you see fit. We’re all eager to get the word out that pelicans still need our help, five years after they were delisted from the Endangered Species List. We’re also in active conservations with partner environmental groups about how we can best protect this iconic species for generations to come.

In a few weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to do your part! On Sept. 20, International Coastal Cleanup Day will draw thousands of ocean lovers out to the shores to pick up trash and debris. We encourage everyone to keep an eye out for any discarded fishing tackle, which is a huge problem for pelicans, as you can see in the infographic above (please exercise caution in picking up any tackle with sharp hooks).

You can find out more about California Coastal Cleanup here.

Internationally, the Ocean Conservancy’s website is a terrific resource for worldwide events.

June 4, 2014

Release! Pink the Pelican

L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino releases Pink. Photos and video by Bill Steinkamp and Kira Perov (volume adjustment on lower right of video control panel)

Pink, a California Brown Pelican and now arguably one of the most famous patients in International Bird Rescue history, was successfully released on Tuesday afternoon at White Point Park in San Pedro, CA, by L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, assisted by a lovely young girl excited to see the bird off on its next adventures.

As you may have read, less than seven weeks ago this animal was brought to our Los Angeles center with its throat pouch nearly severed off its bill. A human-caused injury, the incident sparked outrage among animal lovers in Southern California and beyond. A $20,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this illegal act. Tips may be made anonymous to US Fish and Wildlife Service at 310-328-1516.

Thank you to everyone who helped support the care of this bird, including the Port of Long Beach, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, Terranea Resort and countless bird lovers in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the country.

After two surgeries and weeks in care, this pelican made a record recovery and was very eager for release from our large pelican aviary. As part of our Blue-Banded Pelican Program, we banded Pink with a blue band reading V70. If you see Pink out along the Pacific Coast, you can report your sighting here.

Releases are always powerful experiences that cut through the madness of modern life. International Bird Rescue’s “Every Bird Matters” mantra was definitely the theme of the day. Photographer Bill Steinkamp was on hand to take some wonderful photos of the event. Enjoy!



Pink IMG_8820-L

Pink IMG_8826-L

\Pink IMG_8828-L

Pink IMG_8847-L

February 4, 2014

Speak Up for the Brown Pelican

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, over the past several years International Bird Rescue’s wildlife centers in Northern and Southern California have seen an influx in sick and starving Brown Pelicans.

Though this iconic bird of the Pacific Coast was removed from the Endangered Species List nearly five years ago, pelicans routinely need our help for many reasons: emaciation, domoic acid poisoning, fishing tackle injuries and oil contamination are all common problems we see. A lot of us got involved in this work because of our love of pelicans, and it’s hard to see them in this predicament.

When the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service took the Brown Pelican off the Endangered Species List in 2009, it was supposed to conduct monitoring to ensure continued progress. But we’re concerned that this vital conservation action hasn’t begun. So we’ve teamed up with our friends at Audubon California to advocate for this beloved bird.

And we could use your help. Will you send Fish & Wildlife an email urging them to protect our pelicans?

Click here for an email that you can send with your own optional message. It only takes a few minutes. Your voice matters!

Since 2010, we’ve seen starving pelicans seeking food inland. At the same time, breeding in the Channel Islands has failed five years in a row – the first time this has happened in 20 years. Biologists are attributing the breeding failures to a lack of sardines and anchovies near colonies.

If we’re going to figure out what’s happening with this bird – and take steps to protect it – we need the Service to follow though with monitoring and conservation action. Let’s work together to make this happen.

With gratitude,

Team International Bird Rescue

Peli IMG_0221-M

P.S. Here’s suggested e-mail text:

Send to: fw8ventura_brownpelican@fws.gov:

Dear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 8:

I am writing to request that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service finalize a plan to monitor the status of the Pacific subspecies of the Brown Pelican, and initiate colony monitoring at the Channel Islands.

As you know, this iconic coastal bird was removed from the Endangered Species List in 2009, after its numbers recovered dramatically over the previous 30 years. Unfortunately, recent breeding failures on southern California islands, as well as starvation events in California and Oregon, have prompted new concerns about the Brown Pelican’s status.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has yet to finalize or implement the post-delisting monitoring plan that the Endangered Species Act requires for all delisted species. As the Service said following the delisting in 2009: “The intent of this monitoring is to determine whether the species should be proposed for relisting, or kept off the list because it remains neither threatened or endangered.”

Right now, with no plan in place to guide monitoring and coordination, essential post-delisting activities are not taking place, and there is little information to inform a five-year status review due in 2014.

I understand that this request comes at a time when federal budget cuts have limited the Service’s ability to conduct every conservation program under its purview. At the same time, the Service’s failure to put in place a post-delisting monitoring program for the Brown Pelican undermines the Endangered Species Act, and threatens one of the Act’s greatest conservation victories since its passage.

Again, I ask that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service immediately move to finalize and implement its post-delisting monitoring program for the Pacific subspecies of the Brown Pelican.


Please e-mail to: fw8ventura_brownpelican@fws.gov

Protect Our Pelicans
Protect Our Pelicans infographic by Franzi Muller. Click on the image for full-size version.

October 22, 2013

This year’s Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest winners

Deanna Barth, this year’s winner of the Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest

The 2013 Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest has come to an end, and it was a success — although very different from the previous contest from October 2012 to January 2013. This year’s contest ran from July 29 through October 14. (Read more info on this program here.)

Last year, we were inundated with young pelicans at both of our Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay centers. Once released, they were easily spotted, as these birds spent more time around harbors. This year, the abundance of schooling fish along the coast was a real boost for pelicans, especially young ones, and we saw fewer young birds at our centers. About 150 young pelicans came into both our centers this year, compared to more than 600 in 2012. Because of this, we released fewer hatching-year birds, resulting in a reduced number of sightings.

But we still had some great sightings. During the duration of the contest, we had 41 Blue-Banded Pelican sightings, representing 35 individual birds. Twenty-two of these sightings were first-time spots: birds that have never been seen since their release. Though one of those birds was found dead in Mexico, the others were all sighted alive.

The winner of our sighting contest is Deanna Barth, a veterinary assistant of 14 years and avid wildlife rescuer and bird watcher. Deanna sighted eight Blue-Banded Pelicans from Monterey to Half Moon Bay, Calif. As the top spotter, Deanna won a Vortex Nomad 20-60 X 60 Angled Spotting Scope and a chance to release a rehabilitated Brown Pelican. Congratulations, Deanna!

Our second-place winner is Julie Howar. Julie is a wildlife biologist who is also a member of our oil spill response team. Julie spotted four Blue-Banded Pelicans, all near Pismo Beach, Calif. Julie won a pair of 2X Eagle Optics Denali 8 X 42 binoculars. Congratulations, Julie!

Our Blue-Banded Pelican Photo Contest winners are:

Banded Brown Pelican Coming Down

First Place: Marlin Harms, who photographed Pelican T82 near San Luis Obispo, Calif. on September 5.


Second Place: James Kenney, who spotted Pelican P06 at the Malibu Lagoon on October 14.
K15-10-12-13 Rodriguez

Third Place: Nathan Rodriguez, who spotted and photographed Pelican K15 at the Pacifica Pier on October 14.

The first-place photograph winner will receive a beautiful Alex and Ani pelican bangle, an honorary International Bird Rescue membership and an International Bird Rescue T-shirt. The second- and third-place winners will receive honorary memberships as well as T-shirts.

Check out the sightings below. Particularly interesting is K15, who has made a beautiful transformation, evident by his original juvenile plumage to his now adult plumage. K15 also spend his summer in Washington and then came back to California to the place he seems to like best, the Pacifica Pier!


Meanwhile, M32 still resides inland and is living at Bel Marin Keys near Novato, Calif. This bird has chosen to live inland.

Blue Band Number

Most Recent



Most Recent Date Sighted

Reason for Rehab

Release Date

Release Location

Previous sightings


Westport, WA


Thin, weak, contaminated


San Pedro, CA

2/9/12, 9/12 & 8/14/12   @ San Pedro – 6/18, 6/24 & 7/27/13 @ Westport, WA

Brown Rock, Pismo Beach, CA


 Thin, weak, first year bird


San Pedro, CA

12/28/12 @ Redondo Bch

7/12/13 @ Pismo Bch, CA


Brown Rock, Pismo Beach, CA

7/31/13 Fishing Tackle


San Pedro, CA

7/19/13 @ Pismo Bch.


Westport, WA


 Thin, weak, first year bird


Bodega Bay, CA


Westport, WA


Sea lion bites


 San Pedro, CA


 Brown Rock, Pismo Beach, CA


Fishing Tackle


 San Pedro, CA


 Brown Rock, Pismo Beach, CA


Sea lion bites


San Pedro, CA


Westport, WA


Thin, weak, contaminated


Sausalito, CA

6/17/12 @ Astoria, OR


Westport, WA


 Broken wing


 Sausalito, CA


Monterey, CA


Multiple injuries


Sausalito, CA


 Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay, CA


 Fishing Tackle


Alameda, CA


Westport, WA


Thin, weak, contaminated


Berkeley, CA

4/1/10 @ Santa Barbara, 2/9/12 @ San Pedro.  7/27, 7/31,13 @ Westport, WA


Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay, CA


 Fishing Tackle


 San Pedro, CA


Westport, WA




Sausalito, CA


 Squaw Is. OR


Thin, weak


 Alameda, CA


Westport, WA


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA


Westport, WA


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

Westport, WA


Thin, weak


Sausalito, CA

Monterey, CA


Thin, weak, contaminated


Sausalito, CA

2/7/12, 4/24/12, 7/8/12, 7/14/12, 8/25/12, 9/2/212, 12/13/12, 8/21/13 in Monterey, CA


San Luis Obispo, CA


Fishing Tackle


San Pedro, CA

Pismo Bch, CA


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

Malibu, CA


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

Los Angeles, CA @ Will Rogers Bch


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

11/12/12 @ Coronado, CA, 11/15/12 @ San Pedro


Redondo Bch, CA


Fishing Tackle


San Pedro, CA

12/1/09, 1/21/10, 9/2/12, 9/15/12, 11/11/12, 11/12/20,  11/17/12, 12/8/12,  12/20/12, 12/26/12, 12/27/12, 12/28/12, 12/30/12  twice on 1/1&3/13, 1/15/13, 2/2/13 @ Redondo Beach Pier


Los Angeles, CA @ Will Rogers Bch


Fishing Tackle


San Pedro, CA

San Diego, CA @ Mission Bay


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

Long Beach, CA @ Terminal Island


Injured foot


San Pedro, CA

11/10/12, 1/2,3,7,20/13, 2/23/13 San Pedro, CA @ Commercial Fish Docks


Westport, WA


Thin, weak


San Pedro, CA

4/7/13 @ Westport, WA


Half Moon Bay, CA


Sea lion bites


Sausalito, CA

Half Moon Bay, CA


Sea lion bites


San Pedro, CA

Elkhorn Slough, CA


Thin, weak


Alameda, CA

9/28/2013 @ Half Moon Bay


Novato, CA


Thin, weak


Moss Landing, CA

2/8/12 @ Yolo Land Fill, Davis, CA,  6/14/12 @ Shollenberger Park, Petaluma, CA, 4/1/13 @ Novato, CA in Bel Marin Keys


Pacifica, CA @ Pacifica Pier


Pouch lacerations


Alameda, CA 11/12/11, 1/8/12,  2/17/12 10/30/12, 11/1/12, 11/6/12, 4 times on 11/10/12 11/26/12, 11/29/12, 1/13/12, 1/19/13, 3/3/13, 3/13/13 @ Pacifica Pier – 7/24/13, 8/13/13, 9/14/13 @ Westport, WA, 9/26/13 in Half Moon Bay, CA @ Pillar Point Harbor

Malibu, CA @Malibu Lagoon


Fishing Tackle


Sausalito, CA
October 11, 2013

Blue-Banded Pelican sightings this fall

Banded Brown Pelican Coming Down
Blue-Banded Pelican T82 surrounded by Heermann’s Gulls, photo by Marlin Harms

All field accounts indicate that it’s been a good year for seabirds along the West Coast that feed on schooling fish like sardines and anchovies. Fish seem to be plentiful to the point that they are drawing birds from the south, such as the current influx of Blue-footed Boobies that have made their way into California following large schools of sardines.

Last year at this time, our two centers were inundated with young pelicans. This year to date, our Los Angeles has received fewer than 100 first-year birds, compared to the nearly 500 young pelicans we had last year at this time. Our San Francisco Bay center has had less than 50 youngsters this year, compared to the 300 or so that had come in last year at this time.

We are not complaining. We are happy! If you go to any of the large pelican roosts, such as Dinosaur Rocks near Pismo Beach, the breakwaters at Half Moon Bay, Monterey or Astoria, Ore. and Westport, Wash., you will see lots of first-year pelicans, healthy and flying off to feed on fish offshore.

What this has done, however, is made the sighting of blue-banded birds from our Blue-Banded Pelican Program a bit more difficult. They are not hanging around people in harbors as much because they don’t need us. They have another fish source that seems to be pretty easy to access.

We still have had some really impressive sightings of a few of our rehabilitated birds though, and we wanted to share them with 6d6d79e6aa3e70eebfca8455b3765220you:

K15: This second-year bird, who was the darling of the Pacifica Pier throughout 2012, has been seen three times in Westport, Wash. this summer hanging out with other pelicans on the breakwater to the harbor. We were very concerned about this bird, as people fed it, took pictures with it and petted it for months in Pacifica and even called him their mascot. Because of this, we were skeptical about K15′s survival due to its habituation to humans and fishing piers. But the recent sightings have shown that when natural food is plentiful, pelicans tend to avoid humans, even if they know they can get a handout.

K15 was originally released on July 26, 2011. He has been too far away to get good photos, but he’s going into his adult plumage and looks like a different bird.

C34 ModschiiedlerC34 (shown left) was reported dozens of times last year, as he spent much of his time hanging out at the Redondo Beach Pier. There is even a video on YouTube where a family was feeding and trying to pet him. C34 is an adult bird that was released on Nov. 6, 2009. He was seen at the pier in February 2013 but then disappeared. He showed up again on Sept. 20 at the pier. Here’s a photo by IBR volunteer Paul Modschiiedler.

T82 (shown at the top of this post) came to us with a broken wing and was released on Jan. 31, 2013 in San Pedro, Calif. This bird was sighted on Sept. 13, 2013 making a graceful landing in San Luis Obispo, photo my Marlin Harms.

There is still time to find Blue-Banded Pelicans and a chance to win a spotting scope as part of this fall’s sighting contest. Just go to their roosting spots and scope for the bands!

You can see more photos of Blue-Banded Pelicans sent to us on our Pinterest page.

Have a photo of a Blue-Banded Pelican? Email us and we may feature it!

September 9, 2013

Thanks for celebrating the Pelican Aviary Project with us!

Aviary occupants, photo by Cheryl Reynolds


The commemorative sign for The Pelican Aviary Project

It was a scorcher in Fairfield, but thank you to everyone who stopped by our Saturday community event celebrating completed renovations to the pelican aviary!

Special thanks to Assemblyman Jim Frazier, State Senator Lois Wolk/District Director Lisa Chavez, Kyra Parker with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, the Solano County Fish and Wildlife Propagation Fund, The Green Foundation, Kimberlee Baker, Dave Weeshoff, Hugh and Pat Denton; Lisa and Paul Matheson; and Joan Teitler and Larry Bidinian for their support of this aviary, home to hundreds of ill and injured pelicans and other birds every year.

Additional thanks to the good folks at Whole Foods Market -  Napa Valley, Hint Water and Winterhawk Winery for providing the amazing refreshments.

And last but certainly not least: Thank you to our amazing staff and volunteers for making this event such a success! Event photos by Russ Curtis.

Find out more about the Pelican Aviary Project from our Indiegogo campaign page here.


Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
Assemblyman Jim Frazier helps us dedicate the aviary

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
Assemblyman Frazier (right) with IBR board members Andrew Harmon and Laurie Pyne

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
Lisa Chavez, district director for State Senator Lois Wolk

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
Center manager Michelle Bellizzi explains the renovation project on the aviary

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
IBR board member/Bay Nature ambassador Beth Slatkin

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
Kyra Parker with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN)

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
Guests braving the heat … all for the pelicans!

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
A live look at BirdCam!

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
Kimberlee Baker speaks about the life and legacy of Donna Baker, who was instrumental in the original construction of the aviary. The Pelican Aviary Project is dedicated in her memory.

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
Our wonderful volunteer crew makes sure the animals are cared for!

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
Touring the outdoor grounds and the aviary

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013
Touring the center

Pelican Aviary Celebration at San Francisco Bay Center on September 7, 2013

Our wonderful volunteer team!

Volunteers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Juvenile Brown Pelican in care 

August 19, 2013

Tips on the Banded Pelican Sighting Contest

A67 - Alps
Photo of Pelican A67 by Bernardo Alps

If you’re participating in this year’s Banded Pelican Sighting Contest along the west coast, here are some sighting clues that could bring you one step closer to winning a spotting scope from our friends at Eagle Optics

It looks like a good year for Brown Pelicans along the coastline of the western U.S. Thousands are being seen feeding on schooling fish such as sardines and anchovies. Many of these are first-year birds just learning how to feed. Our Blue-Banded Pelicans that were rehabilitated at our centers in California also are among these flocks of birds.

Clues on where to find Blue-Banded Pelicans:

• Look on breakwaters or anywhere pelicans roost in harbors. Also, check out fish-processing areas.

Pelican C13, photo by Bill Steinkamp

Pelican C13, photo by Bill Steinkamp

• Many Blue-Banded Pelicans are being seen in Washington state and Oregon at several locations, including the town of Westport, where they hang out on the breakwaters, or in Astoria on the breakwater.

• On the central California coast, we have received many reports from Dinosaur Rocks at Pismo Beach where pelicans hang out.

• Another California tip: Monterey harbor and Pillar Point Marina in Half Moon Bay are ideal locations for pelicans to roost and feed. These make for excellent Blue-Banded Pelican spotting sights.

Good luck!

August 6, 2013

Behind the scenes with a Brown Pelican in Dawn’s “The Big Picture”

The latest episode in Dawn Saves Wildlife’s “The Big Picture,” shown above, features several Brown Pelicans filmed at our Los Angeles wildlife care center in May, including Pelican V01, which arrived at International Bird Rescue facing a common predicament: fish oil contamination.

Fish oil contamination occurs when pelicans attempt to retrieve scraps at commercial and public fish-processing sites along the coast. As a result, these animals can easily become covered in oily fish waste, losing their natural waterproofing ability in the process. This can result in hypothermia and death.

Pelican V01 with fish oil contamination (left) and after undergoing a wash

If an oiled pelican can still fly but is unable to feed in cold water, the bird may become a dumpster diver and beggar in order to secure a meal. That’s what we assumed happened to Pelican V01. It was surviving by feeding on scraps and trash in the dumpsters of San Pedro, Calif.

Bernardo Alps, who won last year’s Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest, spotted this pelican and noticed it was very dirty and displaying abnormal behavior. Upon capture, the bird was found to be covered with fish oil and oily waste, which we successfully removed in the wash process using Dawn.

We had seen this bird before, but for other human-caused reasons. In 2006, the pelican was treated at our Los Angeles center for injuries sustained from fishing line entanglement. Seven years later, we fitted this pelican with a blue band (you guessed it: #V01) to better track its post-rehabilitation travels.


Below, we filmed the pelican’s release at Cabrillo Beach Park near our center.

The educational message from this episode of “The Big Picture” is as timeless as it is important: Please don’t feed wildlife.

Though pelicans were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2009, one of our most beloved seabirds continues to face myriad human-caused problems every day. Check out some of these issues in graphic designer Franzi Müller’s Protect Our Pelicans infographic below (click on the image for a printable download). And find out how you can enter our second-annual Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest now underway. You could win an Eagle Optics scope!

Infographic designed by Franzi Müller (click on the image for full-size)

June 8, 2013

The Pelican Brief: Stories of Survivability

P20 has been sighted multiple times in Southern California

P20 has been sighted multiple times in Southern California

Sightings of our banded rehabilitated pelicans are always informative, bringing us new clues about their travels and survivability in the wild. Here are a few recent stories from the pelican sighting files.

Pelican P20 and young birds on the fringe of their range

Why do pelicans become habituated to piers, fisherman and fishing areas?

Brown Pelicans are predators, and young pelicans have to learn quickly how to catch their prey (fish) in order to survive. It’s trial-and-error at first, but while they are learning to hunt and care for themselves they create what is called a mental and behavioral “tool kit.” This tool kit consists of all the techniques and strategies they have discovered that produce fish. Watching the activities of fish-eating mammals such as dolphins and whales is a learned behavior. Following fishing boats back into port after a day’s catch, learning how to watch tides and observing where other fish-eating birds are foraging are all techniques learned that help localize a meal.

Young pelicans are very impressionable during their first year because they don’t have a great fear of people. Have you ever watched fishermen casting their lines from a pier? You will see them reeling in lines with wiggling, sparkling fish. Pelicans and other birds are opportunistic and think that any wiggling fish coming out of the water is theirs for the taking. Piers loaded with fishermen hauling in multiple fish on multiple lines attract pelicans and become feeding grounds for pelicans who don’t know better. They learn quickly that people + piers = food. This becomes another usable tactic in their took kit, but it’s a dangerous one that can also lead to injuries from getting hooked or tangled in fishing line.

Like P20, young pelicans that become habituated to people and fishing piers are at a great disadvantage. This is why we always say, “NEVER FEED PELICANS” or any wild animal. Feeding can produce very unhappy endings for these pelicans that are not able to discern a well-meaning fisherman from one who wants no part of a pelican stealing his or her catch. Follow P20′s movement down the California coastline via this Google Map

View Brown Pelican P20′s Movement in a larger map

M32 Brown Pelican is demonstrating the similar exploratory nature of young birds.

 M32 is demonstrating the similar exploratory nature of young birds.


Brown Pelican M32

Like California Brown Pelicans R36 and R41 that migrated to Victoria, B. C. last fall, M32 is demonstrating the similar exploratory nature of young birds born into a viable population that sometimes move to the fringe of their range in search of food and good habitat. In some cases this works for them, but often these birds die or retreat to safer and more food-abundant areas within their range. R36 did not fly south when the weather turned very cold in Victoria when R41 and the other adult pelicans in the area left. R36 would have died in the cold had it not been rescued. M32 seems to have found a niche in the northern inland part of the San Francisco Bay, representing a young pelican on the fringe of its territory.

Pelican 0938-61101

A friend of IBR and last year’s Blue-Banded Pelican Contest adult winner, Bernardo Alps, spotted pelican 0938-61101 hanging out at the dumpsters at the Ports O’ Call Marketplace in San Pedro, Calif. He noticed this bird was very dirty and not behaving normally. The pelican was captured and found to be covered with fish oil and oily waste from a fish-processing site. Once at our San Pedro center, it was washed to remove the oiling and now has an excellent chance of survival.

Fish oil contamination occurs when pelicans feed at commercial and public fish-processing sites. They can easily become covered in oily fish waste and water as they try to retrieve fish scraps. Dirty feathers from fish oil make the birds wet and cold just like any other oil does. When an oily pelican that is no longer waterproof attempts to plunge feed into the ocean for fish, it’s at risk of cold water reaching its skin, which can result in hypothermia. If an oiled pelican can still fly but is unable to feed in cold water, the bird may become a dumpster diver and beggar, as this is its only way to safely secure a meal and avoid becoming too cold. That’s what we assumed happened to pelican 0938-61101. It was staying alive by feeding in the Ports O’ Call dumpsters on fish scraps and other trash.

Pelican 0938-61101 was previously treated in our San Pedro center in November 2006 for injuries sustained from fishing line. Seven years after her first release from care, this bird will soon be flying freely again sporting a new silver federal band and a highly visible blue plastic band on her leg to track her further travels.

0938-61101: Dirty Brown Pelican coated in fish oil, left, and after cleaning, right, at our Los Angeles Center.

0938-61101: Dirty Brown Pelican coated in fish oil, left, and after cleaning, right, at our Los Angeles Center.

Update, June 13:

Upon successful rehabilitation, a previously fish-oiled Brown Pelican was released Wednesday in the San Pedro area. Photos of the bird and the release below at Cabrillo Beach by Julie Skoglund. 

This pelican first came into our San Pedro center on 11/2/2006 as a first-year bird with fishing tackle injuries. Since its release, it has been reported two other times in San Pedro on 12/18/2008 and on 1/2/2013. Captured fish-oiled on 5/5/13, the bird was rehabilitated and released on 6/12/13. Its new band number is now V01.










May 9, 2013

The Pelican Aviary Project is now underway

Pelican,-White-02-MA few months ago, we launched the Pelican Aviary Project, our first foray into the world of online crowdfunding via Indiegogo. With a big help from both our local supporters and pelican enthusiasts from Hawaii to Norway, we raised over $16,000 for a new aviary at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in Fairfield, Calif. (Click here for a list of aviary supporters who helped us surpass our original 15K goal.)

Why do we need this project?

Several years ago, we built a large aviary for rehabilitating injured aquatic species such as pelicans. The enclosure was constructed to the highest standards possible with the funding we had at the time. But with the ever-increasing number of pelicans coming to us, we need to do some major renovations. Price tag: an estimated $45,000.

We’ve received generous support from the Solano County Fish and Wildlife Propagation Fund, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network … and you!

And we’re excited to report that we’ve broken ground for the new and improved aviary. Pelicans being treated at this facility were recently transported to our Los Angeles center to complete their rehabilitation while renovations are underway.

Here’s an update from San Francisco Bay center manager Michelle Bellizzi:

With the help of truly amazing people — including every staff member, our interns, every volunteer, as well as our neighbors at Solano County Roofing, Hudson Excavation and D&T Fiberglass — our pelican aviary prep work is complete, and we are now just waiting for the concrete work to begin. A few days early, no less!

Among the tasks our intrepid team has completed:

-Dug trenches for relocating the electrical outlets
-Mowed and cleaned the yard to make way for equipment
-Moved filters and pumps
-Moved two 35 foot-by-10 foot fiberglass pools

All of this work and more is in addition to taking care of birds, building duckling boxes, repairing our other aviaries, cleaning the center and preparing it for “busy season.”

Here are some photos of the project and the team at work:


Pelican Aviary2

Pelican Aviary 1


Pelican Aviary Reconstruction May 2013

Pelican Aviary Reconstruction May 2013


These amazing local businesses were on hand for their expertise:

-Hudson Excavation donated both time and materials toward helping us remove the west fence to provide access for the contractors. Our California Department of Fish and Wildlife volunteers finished the job.

-D&T Fiberglass disassembled the pools in addition to staying for several hours to help us move the pools.

-Solano County Roofing not only donated a forklift to help us, but also donated their time and brought in “The Big Gun” — a giant, all-terrain behemoth with 12-foot forks. This came in handy when the forklift was not quite as effective as we’d hoped. The Big Gun, expert driver and our makeshift crew were able to move all four pool halves in one-tenth the time it would have taken our crew alone, with about one-tenth the blood, sweat and tears.

In the coming weeks we’ll keep you posted on our progress. Thanks!

Brown Pelican-Bill Steinkamp

Brown Pelican photo (above) and American White Pelican photo (top) by Bill Steinkamp.

April 22, 2013

Pelican release at Terranea Resort, Earth Day weekend 2013

During this past winter, a number of California Brown Pelicans were reported to have traveled well north of their usual habitat – British Columbia, to be exact.

Several of these birds settled in Victoria’s inner harbour, and three were found to have parasites, frostbite, and in the case of one pelican, wounds that may have been from fishing hook injuries.

After weeks of planning and the securing of appropriate permits, the birds were flown south via commercial jet cargo to International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles wildlife care center, which is equipped with the large aviaries necessary to successfully treat aquatic birds of this size. These pelicans were released at Terranea Resort in nearby Rancho Palos Verdes on April 20, 2013.

Photos and video by Bill Steinkamp. Music by Wired Ant. View the full-size video here.


Find out how you can get involved with pelicans through our Pelican Partner program.

April 9, 2013

In care at our Los Angeles center: The international pelican trio


Last week, International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center received a trio of international patients: three Brown Pelicans that had been in the care of Wild ARC and several fellow animal organizations in British Columbia.

Via the Victoria Times-Colonist:

They missed spring break in Malibu, but three brown pelicans will finally head south today after undergoing treatment at the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Metchosin.

Two of the birds were left behind by a flock of about 15 adults and juveniles that hit Greater Victoria in early December, hanging out in the Inner Harbour and getting fed by members of the public.

While most eventually migrated, one male and one female were too weak to make the trip.

They had frostbite on their feet and parasites and were generally in poor condition when rescued by the B.C. SPCA’s Wild ARC in January.

The third bird was found in Tofino in early December. She had parasites and head wounds, possibly inflicted by a predator.

(Read the full article here.)

Given International Bird Rescue’s expertise in the care of pelicans and other aquatic birds, animal caregivers decided the birds would be best served at our facilities.

Upon arrival on an Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles last week, the birds were taken to IBR’s facility in San Pedro. Staff rehabilitation technician Kylie Clatterbuck reports that overall, the pelicans are doing well in our large aviary: One of these juvenile birds is already flying perch to perch (the full length of the enclosure) and the others are getting very good lift and flying the length of the aviary pool. All three will undergo comprehensive flight conditioning before they evaluated for release.

Thanks to the team at Wild ARC and to Pacific Coastal Airlines for donating the flight from Victoria to Vancouver. These animals will be featured on an upcoming wildlife show, we’ll give you the details as soon as we have them!

Photos courtesy Kylie Clatterbuck

BRPE1-Kylie Clatterbuck