Every Bird Matters
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Features

November 20, 2018

Show Your Love Of Wildlife On #GivingTuesday November 27, 2018

Giving Tuesday is just around the corner, so let us come together to save the birds! Watch the video above to see why we do what we do!

Merganser chick. Photo by Suzi Eszterhas

We’ve set a big goal for #GivingTuesday at International Bird Rescue. This year we aim to raise $30,000 to support waterbird rescue and rehabilitation at our two California wildlife hospitals. We are thrilled to share that two of our corporate partners have pledged to MATCH your Giving Tuesday donations!

DONATE NOW

The annual Giving Tuesday is an opportunity for non-profits to gather support and join together with community members for a day of maximum impact. Reaching our goal will help us feed birds in care, provide life-saving medical care, keep our pools clean and filled, and help us share our work with as many people as possible. We hope you’ll join us and help inspire others to take action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves.

NEXT Tuesday, November 27, 2018 please help us reach our Giving Tuesday goal for the birds!

Busy next week? You can donate now and we will process your gift and count it towards our #GivingTuesday goal!

From all of us at International Bird Rescue, thank you for your support!

November 19, 2018

New Annual Report Available For Download

We are pleased to announce International Bird Rescue’s latest Annual Report is available for download.

Read compelling, inspiring stories and acknowledge the magic of the courageous actions that started Bird Rescue and keep it going today.

We are also very proud to share with supporters our new mission and vision:

Misson
To inspire people to act toward balance with the natural world by rescuing waterbirds in crisis.

Vision
We dream of a world in which every person, every day, takes action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves.

“The shift to a broader mission statement allows us room to grow and clarifies what we do now. Our new vision motivates people to action and has been a pivot point for an immediate internal shift,” says JD Bergeron, Executive Director at Bird Rescue.

October 26, 2018

Success Story: Rehabilitated Pelican E17’s Eight Year Journey!

This story spans eight years and crosses international borders – all wrapped up in the journey of International Bird Rescue’s most famous former patient and parent, a California Brown Pelican banded E17 after his rehabilitation in 2010 at our Los Angeles center.

E17 created quite a buzz when he was spotted for the third time last month in Northern California during the semi-annual Brown Pelican count off of the Alameda Reserve Breakwater Island, a collaboration between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Audubon California.

For those of you who may not be familiar with this bird’s story, it began when he was in care with us for 259 days after his flight feathers had been clipped short, bringing likely suspicions of foul play by humans. To get more on his back story see this blog post.

Since his release, E17’s story has become even more compelling! As you can see in the timeline below, it is apparent that he is an international traveler, flying between San Jeronimo Island in Mexico, Northern California and likely many points in between. Most notably, he surprised and delighted the rehabilitation community in 2017 when he was photographed fathering two chicks on San Jeronimo Island!

Though E17’s rehabilitation story illustrates great success, many pelicans and other seabirds face agonizing injuries and death from cruelty at the hands of humans. Please donate today to help us continue to care for the many patients International Bird Rescue receives every year suffering from pointless cruelty, like E17.

September 28, 2018

Photographers in Focus: Alan Murphy

Common Loon with chick at Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. All photos © Alan Murphy

We stumbled upon Alan Murphy’s gorgeous bird photos by accident this month while looking online at Common Loon [Gavia immer] images. September is that special month when we celebrate a group of waterbirds that excels at beauty and wonderful parenting skills. What attracted us to Murphy’s photos is that he captures these waterbirds with such grace.

Murphy is an award-winning photographer based in Houston. Besides spending time creating top notch bird photos, this photographer leads several bird photography workshops. Check them out here

We asked Murphy to tell us more about his passion for capturing images of our avian friends:

Question: Your photos of loons are striking. How do you get such intimate portraits of these beautiful birds?

Answer: I have been leading loon photography workshops in British Columbia for the past 7 years. We take small groups out to photograph 3 or 4 nesting pairs. The birds are used to us and allow us to spend time watching and documenting their behavior. I built a low profile platform pontoon boat that you can lay down to photograph the loons from a low perspective. Our camera lenses are only a few inches above water level giving that very intimate look. Each year we get to see and photograph eggs hatching, the chick’s first swim and first feeding. As the adult loons dive to catch their food, their chicks remain on the surface leaving them vulnerable to eagles and other predators. Many times they would bring the chicks over to our boat knowing they would be safe. It is truly a spiritual experience to spend time with these beautiful birds.

Common Loon adult interaction with chick at Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

Q: How did you get into wildlife photography?

A: As a young boy growing up in England and Ireland, bird watching was my hobby. I loved spending time in the woods and had a keen interest in the birds. When I moved to the United States in the 80’s, I was a little overwhelmed with the number of species that looked similar. As an example, in England we have one wren, where in the States we have nine species of wren. To speed up the challenge of identification on the many species, I borrowed a camera and small zoom lens. I would have prints made from the slide film and then try to ID the birds from the prints with my bird book next to them. It didn’t take long to see I needed a bigger lens and find ways to get closer. I read books on how to find and approach wildlife and also on how to be a better photographer. I discovered that I loved the challenge of the technical camera stuff, the challenge of getting closer and most of all, I found photographing birds to be the most intimate bird watching there is. I was hooked.

Sunrise: Loon on the lake at Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

Q: What’s are some of the challenges you face in your bird photography?

A: My personal photography goal is to photograph as many of the species that breed in North America. There are over 740 species. It has taken me 30 years to photograph just over 600 and will probably take the rest of my life to reach 700.  It takes time, networking, money and luck. There’s also a sense of urgency as so many species are getting close to extinction and may not be here in 20-30 years. In the 30 years I have been photographing migrating birds on the Upper Texas Coast, I have seen a decline in bird numbers. The technology in camera gear is getting better each year and equipment is getting lighter, but our subjects are declining and the places to find then are shrinking. To help with this challenge, I try to use my photography to help in conservation in any way I can.

The feathers of a Common Murre at Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

Q: What camera system do you prefer? Favorite lens for wildlife photography?

A: I work with Nikon equipment and have been for over 25 years. Since my main subject is birds, I use the Nikon 600 f4 lens for most of my perched work. For birds in flight I use the Nikon 300 f2.8 lens, sometimes with the 1.4 teleconverter.

Unlike photographing large African mammals for example, birds are small and a long telephoto lens is a necessity. It can be expensive entering in this hobby or profession, but once you have your gear, your set for years. (Well, until the next and greatest camera comes out!)

Q: What tips or suggestions for photographers do you have to edit and catalog their work?

A: I was a photographer when film changed to digital. There was a steep learning curve and not a lot of info for those of us on the forefront of digital. I made a lot of mistakes when it came to organizing my work. Today, there is so much info on the internet, that you can find a lot of feedback on almost anything.  What I found works best for me was to create folders for every species of bird in North America. I have one set of folders that store all my RAW files (over 750 folders) and one set of folders that store all my processed TIFFs. I also have a set of species folders that store smaller JPEGs that are used for my website, newsletters, Facebook etc. The RAWs are stored using the embedded camera file number. The TIFFs are stored using the embedded camera file number, plus the species name. I don’t use keywords like date, sex, location etc, but if I were also cataloging mammals, landscape, macro etc, I would probably do that in order to find things easier. If I need a bird photo, I just go to the species folder.

Editing for me has changed over time. When I first started out, I kept everything. Now, it has to be as good or better than what I already have for me to keep it.

Q: What bird photo projects will you be working on in the future?

A: I have a few things in the works. This winter I will be trying to improve on a photo project that I have been doing to capture a Belted Kingfisher diving into the water. The image I am after is right as the bill touches the water.

I am building a system to where I have a camera and wide angle lens hidden in a fake rock. I will bring this to the Iceland workshop next year so participants can get up close and personal wide-angle images of Puffins. The camera has a WiFi device that can be operated from your phone up to 100 feet away.

Pacific Loon

Q: Who are some of your favorite wildlife photographers?

A: Since I’m a bird photographer, all these people specialize in birds and have all inspired me.

Jacob Spendelow

Matthew Studebaker

Connor Stefanison

Jess Findlay

Robert Royce

Greg Downing

Brian Small

Q: How has working in nature enhanced your life?

A: As a young boy, I found great solace and peace looking and studying birds in the forests. Now as an adult, I get to not only do this for a living, but I get to share it with many others. To be around other like minded people and to share the wonders of nature, to contribute to conservation, and to travel to amazing places, I surely have the best job in the world.

More of Murphy’s favorite bird photos can be seen here: http://www.alanmurphyphotography.com/favorites.htm

Cinnamon Teal

 

 

Brown Pelican

Least Sandpiper

 

August 24, 2018

An Update on Mara the Murre

Mara is spending time with a rescued adult murre who is acting as a surrogate parent during her recovery. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

Dear Supporters,

Thanks to people like you, Mara is slowly recovering from starvation. We’re hand-feeding her every day, filling in for the role her father would have played. She’s also swimming with a rescued adult murre who is acting as a surrogate parent during her recovery. We continue to monitor her progress daily, but it will be many weeks before Mara is strong enough to be released. Continued care for birds like Mara is expensive which is why we still need your help.

Thanks to generous donations made by many individuals and our matching donor, we are almost halfway to our $100,000 goal. As we provide intensive care for an unprecedented number of waterbirds like Mara, the E-murre-gency continues to unfold.

Waterbirds in Crisis
In light of recent government decisions to loosen environmental regulations, NBC-TV Bay Area visited our SF Bay-Delta wildlife center to report first hand about the effects these decisions are having on marine life, including waterbirds like Mara. When the government steps back from environmental protections, non-profits like International Bird Rescue and concerned individuals like you, must STEP UP to fill the gap. We can’t do it alone.

We need to raise $100,000 to cover the cost of this crisis and reach our goal. Please donate today by visiting our Giving Grid campaign or donate directly through our website, and share this message with your friends. All donations made today will be matched dollar for dollar, doubling your impact.

For all those who have already given, thank you for your support – we couldn’t do this work without you. We dream of a world in which every person, every day, takes action to protect the natural home of wildlife and ourselves. Thank you for continuing to help us make that vision a reality.

Sincerely,

The Bird Rescue Team

 

July 1, 2018

Bird Rescue Celebrates 40 Years With Dawn, Procter And Gamble

No one wishes for oil spills. Not petroleum companies, and certainly not those of us who care about the environment. But spills do happen, and one particularly bad spill occurred in 1971 right outside San Francisco Bay. When bad things happen, good people respond. A group of concerned local citizens trooped down to beaches and shoreline all around the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay in a desperate attempt to rescue thousands of birds covered in oil.

Dawn is holding a 40-year celebration at Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall in New York City.

After that first oil spill, we explored many different ways to clean oil off of aquatic birds. Seven years later, in 1978, International Bird Rescue started what would become a 40-year relationship (and counting) with Procter and Gamble. Through trial, error, and our tenacity to find a solution, we discovered that Procter and Gamble’s Dawn dish soap, was the golden ticket! It was inexpensive, effective, readily available, and Procter and Gamble was excited to learn about this somewhat unusual use of their product.

Since then, Procter and Gamble have become one of our biggest supporters, donating countless bottles of Dawn dish soap to us, and committing hundreds of thousands of dollars to support our wildlife rehabilitation, research, and spill response work.

Fortunately, our 47 years of work has helped improve emergency response techniques and outcomes for oiled wildlife across the globe. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of other threats to aquatic birds. Rescuing birds negatively affected by urban wildlife conflicts such as habitat loss, cruelty, and fishing entanglements (from hooks, lines, and nets) is an ever-increasing volume of our work.

See: History of DAWN helping save wildlife

We can all take action every day to make a difference and improve the  human impact on aquatic birds by opting for wooden stir sticks (instead of plastic) at the local coffee shop, using reusable water bottles (instead of single-use plastic bottles), making sure to never litter, and by donating to International Bird Rescue. Join us, and we can all continue this life-saving work. To learn more about becoming a corporate sponsor, click here.

Cleaning oiled wildlife at the 2010 Deepwater Gulf Oil Spill in Louisiana.

 

May 5, 2018

Conquer The Bridge Run In Los Angeles

This summer, the L.A. Wildlife Center is getting geared up for the 10th annual Conquer the Bridge race in San Pedro. The 8.5k course crosses the Vincent Thomas Bridge – an iconic suspension bridge which spans Los Angeles harbor, connecting San Pedro and Terminal Island. These two areas represent important foraging, roosting and nesting habitats for many of the aquatic birds that Bird Rescue strives to protect.

Bird Rescue staff, volunteers, and supports have created team Yes We Peli-CAN to participate in the race on Sept 3 to help raise awareness surrounding the aquatic birds in the Port of LA area and raise funds to support Bird Rescue’s mission.

Team Yes We Peli-CAN will be working together towards the goal of raising $10,000 to go towards the care of injured, oiled and orphaned aquatic birds in the Los Angeles area. As of this month, over $1,200 has been raised. If you would like to contribute to the team campaign, visit https://www.bird-rescue.org/get-involved/support-the-conquer-the-bridge-runners

If you are interested in joining Team Yes We Peli-CAN to be a part of this exciting event, contact the Team Captain at RaceTeamLA@bird-rescue.org. Team registration remains open until Aug 24.

March 30, 2018

Sometimes in a Spill Crisis, No Wildlife is the Best Outcome

Spill Location, Shuyak Island, Alaska

In February, just as many of our team were arriving for our co-hosting duties of this year’s National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association conference in Anaheim, CA, International Bird Rescue was called to respond to an oil spill in the remote islands of the Kodiak Archipelago.

The details were only just emerging: a 3,000-gallon bladder stored inside a dockside building fell into the ocean when strong winds caused the building to collapse.

Spectacled Eider pair, photographed by Jay Holcomb

Bad weather and surging 15′ waves prevented anyone in the response team from reaching the location in that first day, so available wildlife information was limited. Local knowledge of the area suggested that sea and river otters, seals, whales, and a variety of birds were regularly seen in the region. Our biggest concern was that the location of the spill (within a narrow strait) could mean that a large number of seabirds were weathering the storm in that very spot.

Among those of highest concern were vulnerable sea ducks like STELLER’S EIDER and SPECTACLED EIDER (shown left). These species tend to overwinter in massive flocks, making them especially vulnerable to oil spills because a large group could be affected all at once.

This effect was the case during the Treasure Oil Spill in South Africa in the year 2000 in which we participated as part of the

Photo of Treasure Oil Spill Penguin Rescue

International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) now-defunct spill response team, which affected more than 40,000 endangered African Penguins and still represents the largest and most successful wildlife response in history. To the right is an image from that spill response and demonstrates our worst fears for a large-scale disaster.

Since the spill location was hard to access, we were kept on standby in Anchorage alongside the incident command while we prepared for the possibility of oiled birds at International Bird Rescue’s Alaska Wildlife Response Center (IBR-AWRC). Preparations included developing a wildlife response plan with other wildlife agencies present, walking through the center, checking availability of our extensive response team for immediate deployment, performing inventory checks on our clinical supplies as well as those of our partner Alaska Chadux Corporation, an oil spill response organization which handles the environmental cleanup while we handle the wildlife.

Trusty bottle of Dawn dish soap in the response container ready to be deployed

The response effort achieved “boots on the ground” on the third day as the first responders were able to access the spill site and give a better assessment of actual impacts. There were no reports of oiled wildlife and all wildlife seen anywhere in the vicinity were behaving normally. This positive result was likely the result of two combining factors: harsh weather and the dense nature of the oil product that spilled.

To read more about the official account: Port William Shuyak Island Bunker C Spill.

As the week progressed, there were still no reports of oiled wildlife and we were able to spend our early evenings after the work day conducting a Bird Rescue tradition: Wildlife Surveys. Wildlife surveys involve seeking out native animals and birds in their natural habitat because:

  1. they prepare us well for the next spill by acclimating the team to the specific dynamics in a location, and
  2. since we’re all animal lovers, they provide rare opportunities to see wildlife from other regions.

Among the sightings from the Anchorage area: several MOOSE with yearlings, DALL SHEEP, COMMON RAVENS, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, BLACK-CAPPED and BOREAL CHICKADEES (great for comparison), BROWN CREEPERS, COMMON and HOARY REDPOLLS, PINE GROSBEAKS, a very cooperative SHORT-EARED OWL, and a NORTHERN SHRIKE.

When I return to Alaska as a trainer in July, I’ll be looking for my next target: BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, and I’ll keep you posted how that goes.

We are glad to report that to date no wildlife have been seen as affected by this spill. The cleanup effort continues and will likely do so for quite a while. In a spill response, however, no wildlife is often the best possible outcome. 

February 7, 2018

Bird of the Month: Diving Ducks

Canvasback – Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

February is Diving Duck Month here at Bird Rescue, and to celebrate this fun month we wanted to start out by talking about what a diving duck actually is. While all species of duck are in the same family (Anatidae) within that family ducks can be separated out into three main groups; diving ducks, dabbling ducks, and sea ducks/mergansers. Today, we will talk about diving ducks!

Diving ducks get their name from the way that they forage for food – diving underwater! In order to find the mollusks, plants, insects, and fish that they feed on, these athletic little ducks plunge themselves underwater in search of the food that they eat. According to the University of Florida, diving ducks have large webbed feet (which act as paddles) and smaller wings which they press up against their body, enabling them to dive and swim underwater with ease. While their smaller wings and larger feet may help with diving, they aren’t necessarily the best for taking flight, which is why you sometimes see ducks running across the water before taking off.

Most species of diving duck are native to North America, and we commonly see many species from the group at our clinic. Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, Greater and Lesser Scaups, Surf Scoters, and Buffleheads are all birds that we regularly see throughout the winter months. While most of these birds do not breed in California, they often pass through during winter migration.

While we enjoy celebrating the many unique traits of the diving ducks, their conservation status is a less jovial tale. According to Ducks Unlimited, this extraordinary group of birds has suffered from the deteriorating water quality throughout North America. Increased levels of contaminants in water sources, loss of aquatic vegetation (food) due to erosion, and breeding ground loss due to landfills are just a few of the challenges that these ducks face.

Though conservation may be a concern for these birds, together we can work together in doing our part to make decisions that look out for the water systems and habitats that support them. Join us in celebrating this wonderful group of ducks throughout the month of February, and stay tuned for factoids, photos, and conservation information about this beloved group. For daily updates follow us on Facebook!

January 31, 2018

Photographers in Focus: Patricia Ware

Elegant Tern emerges from the water with two fish in its mouth at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, CA.

Our photographer of note this time around is Patricia Ware from Manhattan Beach, CA. Patricia captures striking bird life images in and around Southern California. In her interview that follows, she shares some great tips on using her photographic equipment to the highest degree and reminds us that even after arising early to find these beautiful photos, post-production and thoughtful backup plans keep her sanity intact.

Photo of Mandarin Duck by Patricia Ware

Mandarin Duck photographed at the Los Angeles Arboretum, California.

Question: Your work is striking. How did you manage to capture that image of the Elegant Tern?

Answer: Thank you, I am so pleased you enjoy my work.

When the Terns are diving for fish, I try to capture them when they emerge from the water. To get sharp shots of fast-moving birds like Terns, you need to first put the correct settings in your camera. When I took this shot, I was using a Canon 1D mark iv, so I will describe the settings I use for my Canon cameras; however, similar settings are found for other camera models.

• Autofocus: Use AI Servo Autofocus. The AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. This algorithm determines the speed and the direction of fast-moving subjects when their focusing distance keeps changing. AI Servo Autofocus allows me to better track fast flying birds.

• Drive Mode: Set it to high-speed continuous shooting. On my Canon 1D mark iv, I was able to get 10 shots per second. When the action is at its greatest, clicking 10 shots per second gives me more opportunities to capture the action at its peak.

• Autofocus Point: Use the center autofocus for birds in flight. If I am shooting against a varied background such as trees or bushes, I will use the center autofocus point and aim for the center of the bird. If I know I will be shooting against a plain background such as a blue sky, I will use the center autofocus point plus surrounding AF point expansion.

• AI Servo Tracking Sensitivity: Set to SLOW. Setting the tracking sensitivity to slow allows me to refocus on the bird in flight more quickly when the camera locks its focus on the background rather than on the bird.

The Tern photo was taken from the bridge in the early morning at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, CA. I waited until I saw a Tern dive and aimed as it surfaced. I didn’t realize it had two fish in its mouth until I uploaded my photos to my computer. Stopping a moment in time allows you to see even more than you did when you took the shot.

Photo of Black-necked Stilt by Patricia Ware

Black-necked Stilt walks along wetlands in Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, Playa del Rey, California.

Q: How did you get into wildlife photography?

A: In 2008, I purchased a Canon 40D which came with a 28-135mm zoom lens. My husband and I were rowing in the Back Bay in Newport Beach, California when I spotted an Osprey in the distance. My husband said I could zoom in on the bird to make it larger and he proceeded to show me how. I was blown away that I could make something so small and far away appear close and large in camera. At that moment I was hooked.

Perusing the internet to learn more about birds and Ospreys in particular, I stumbled across one of the most widely recognized bird photographers, Artie Morris. I read his blog and purchased one of his guides to bird photography. I loved his work and wanted to emulate him.

But first I needed to learn how to use my newly purchased camera. So I enrolled in a UCLA extension course on beginning photography and Photoshop. It was exactly what I needed. The class gave weekly assignments to improve our skills. And over the next three months I learned the basics of photography and Photoshop.

I am still learning. I often watch online videos and read blogs about photography and Photoshop in order to improve my skills.

Photo of Snowy Egrets by Patricia Ware

Snowy Egret chaseing off another along the shoreline at Playa del Rey, California

Q: What are some of the challenges you face in your bird photography?

A: Getting up early (5:00 am) and driving the freeways are my biggest challenges. You need to be where the birds are and the morning light is wonderful.

I often wear black so I can hide in the shadows and then I stay in place until the birds to come to me. I love being in nature, so waiting for the birds is a joy rather than a challenge. It gives me time to enjoy the beauty surrounding me: the wonderful views of nature, the smell of the wet grasses, the birds singing in the trees or the quiet stillness.

Photo of young Egyptian Geese by Patricia Ware

Q: What camera system do you prefer? Favorite lens for wildlife photography?

A: I love taking shots of birds in flight, so I recently upgraded to a Canon’s 1DX ii. It’s great for action with its fast frame rate of 14 FPS with full tracking autofocus. The autofocus is excellent even with an extender. Additionally, I am able to take shots with a high ISO and still get wonderful image quality

When I use a tripod, my favorite lens is my 600mm. But more often I am hand-holding, and my lens of choice is a Canon 400 DO ii. Its autofocus is fast and it’s sharp with both the Canon 1.4X III and 2x III EF extenders. With one of these extenders, I have either a 560mm f/5.6 or an 800mm f/8 reach.

Because it is relatively light, I can walk for over a mile with the 400 DO ii. And because of its compact size I can take it out in our 22’ dory when we go to the Back Bay in Newport Beach, CA. Additionally, I can fit it in a carry-on when I take a flight so it makes a wonderful travel lens too.

Photo of a Allen’s Hummingbird by Patricia Ware

Male Allen’s Hummingbird photo capture in Ware’s backyard.

Q: Do you have any tips or suggestions for photographers to edit and catalog their work?

A: Good photographs, that’s what it’s all about. Once I take them, I want to keep only the best and get rid of the rest. So I need to judge: Is the subject too small in the frame? Is it out of focus? Are the whites blown out and is there enough detail in the shadows? These are a few of the things that I evaluate.

However, even if a shot is technically flawless, I may not choose to keep it if it doesn’t speak to me. It needs to say, “This is a perfect moment in time.” Like when the Tern emerges from the water with two fish in its beak or when this juvenile Peregrine lands in the ice plant after one of his initial flights.

Or my photo needs to tell me a story such as this one showing shows how one Snowy Egret aggressively chases off another from its territory.

Or the photo needs to evoke a feeling or an emotion. This shot elicited confidence showing a Black-necked Stilt holding her head high while taking a big stride.

Whatever the criterion I use to make these judgments, I need to be able to preview the image at 100%. And I need to do this quickly with little wait time so I can move on to the next shot. Even though I can preview my images in Lightroom, it’s WAY too slow. I need something much faster, and Photo Mechanic from Camera Bits meets that need. Photo Mechanic is a super-fast image browser that speeds up my workflow. This software saves me serious time in my first-pass review to cull for rejected photos. It loads quickly so I can immediately see the photo in high resolution. I can check whether the eye is in perfect focus or use any other criterion to decide if the shot is worth keeping.

Not only must I decide which photos to keep, but I also need to decide where to store my photos. When I started out taking photos, I would store them on external hard drives. This was an easy solution that worked quite well until one day one when one of my hard drives failed. I had a sickening realization that I had messed up. I tried everything to get it back. I even took it to a person specializing in hard drive recovery and he was unsuccessful. Fortunately, I was able to recover my photos by attaching the hard drive to a different computer, but I learned my lesson. I now store my photos in multiple places.

I first copy my camera memory card a 2 TB portable external hard drive. I do my first pass at selecting and then make a second copy of the keepers to a 16 TB RAID external hard drive. Once the smaller hard drive is full, I move it into a file cabinet in our detached garage and replace it with a new hard drive.

Additionally, I pay for online backup using Backblaze, which automatically backups all my files on one computer as well as my portable and my RAID external hard drives. Presently, I have over 8 terabytes in their cloud.

Some people are turned off by the initial predicted upload time by Backblaze. However, it took me much less time. Of course, I have everything set for speed: I leave my computer on day and night, I have FiOS, which has blazing fast upload speeds, and in the Backblaze settings, I turn off automatic throttle and manually set it to use the most Internet bandwidth available. Backblaze is simple to use and it keeps my folder structure the same as it is on my computer. In fact, I’ve used it for several years now and during this time, my computer crashed. I easily restored my files on my new computer.

Along with Backblaze, I upload my photos to the Amazon Cloud, whose price is included with my prime membership. This gives me added security, but for me, it’s not as easy to retrieve photos as Backblaze. I also store and organize my high-resolution jpegs on Flickr. However, I primarily use Flickr for its social network. On Flickr I can view, interact, and learn in a huge community of professional and amateur photographers. And finally, my last storage site is on Zenfolio, which is my personal website to showcase my photos.

To some, these multiple places to store my photos may seem like overkill, but I certainly have peace of mind.

Photo of Clark's Grebe swims carrying chick on its back by Patricia Ware

Clark’s Grebe swims carrying chick on its back.

Q: Why birds?

A: Birds are beautiful animals and they are everywhere. When my son was in third grade, he was assigned to do a report on local birds. So I took him to a local pond to observe the birds. The variety of birds there opened my eyes. I had never really looked before. As we researched the birds we saw, my son and I learned so much about the wildlife in our area. I then put up a feeder in my yard where I could make even closer observations and eventually take photographs.

Photo of Elegant Tern in midair ballet by Patricia Ware

Elegant Tern twists and shakes water from his body at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, California.

Q: Who are some of your favorite wildlife photographers?

A: My favorite wildlife photographers are among the contacts on Flickr I have made on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/): Sindri Skúlason, Philip Dunn, Eric Gofreed, Salah Baazizi, Gerda and Willie van Schalkwyk. I can follow their work on a daily basis and spend time identifying what I like about their shots. I can then try to imitate what I like about their work and because we comment on each other’s work and know each other, I can email them if I need to learn more.

Q: How has working in nature enhanced your life?

A: Pure joy is being in the quiet of nature and connecting with it. I love nature. Photographing nature, especially animals in the wild, is my way of protecting our planet and sharing its beauty.

Photo of Reddish Egret by Patricia Ware

Reddish Egret appears to be walking on water at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, California.

All photos © Patricia Ware

 

December 26, 2017

Year in Review: 2017

Common Murre chick swimming with adult murre – Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

2017 has been a year of change and progress at Bird Rescue. From new hires to new opportunities, this past year has presented us with countless possibilities to grow and expand. As always, we are grateful for the support we received throughout 2017. All of the work we have done this past year would not have been possible without the generous support of all of you. As a 501(c)(3), Bird Rescue runs off of volunteer hours and donated resources. When we say that the work we do wouldn’t be possible without your help, we truly mean it. As 2017 comes to an end, we wanted to take a moment to show you all the ways that you have helped make Bird Rescue as strong as ever:

Heavily oiled Brown Pelican being washed. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

  • YOU provided high-quality wildlife rehabilitation care for more than 3,500 wild birds.

  • YOU researched foot and body wounds often seen in grebes.

  • YOU paid for innovative surgeries that improve the state of care for injured seabirds.

  • YOU funded an increasing number of Virginia Rails – small skulking marsh birds that we have rarely seen with such frequency.

  • YOU supported us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – a community 95,000 strong!

  • YOU gave us the chance to improve our Aging and Sexing skills for released birds through an expert training, allowing us to provide better data for science.

  • YOU supported over $75,000 in food costs for our patients.

  • YOU helped us to evacuate during the Atlas Fire in Northern California

This list highlights just a fraction of the ways that you all have helped make Bird Rescue so successful this year. As always, we are filled with gratitude for your support, and look forward to jumping into 2018 with a whole new set of goals! Stay tuned for future updates on the projects we have planned for the year to come!

 

September 27, 2017

Volunteer Spotlight: Susan “Mac” McCarthy

Editor’s note: The work we do at Bird Rescue wouldn’t be possible without our amazing team of staff and volunteers! Read below to meet one of our stellar team members.

Susan McCarthy – Volunteer Since 1971

A writer and a volunteer, Susan (or Mac as we’ll call her) has been on the front lines with Bird Rescue since 1971, getting her start at the Standard Oil spill incident that prompted the very formation of our organization! From oil spills to her work as a writer, Mac’s commitment to animal welfare has been an inspiration to us over the years.

A long-time Bay Area resident, Mac has always had a soft spot for avian wildlife. Growing up in a home that valued the welfare of all animals (including a mother who used to drive her to our center so she could volunteer!) it’s no wonder that Mac has dedicated her life to studying and writing about animal behavior.

As a professional writer, Mac’s work can be seen in her non-fiction books When Elephants Weep (which she co-authored with Jeff Masson) and Becoming a Tiger. In addition to her work in animal behavior, Mac also runs a blog with her colleague Marjorie Ingall, Sorry Watch, which analyzes apologies, both public and private.

We are so grateful that Mac has chosen to spend her time helping our efforts over the years, and are delighted to get to spend time with such an interesting and dedicated woman!

Read Mac’s account of bird rescue at the 1971 San Francisco Bay oil spill: http://www.outsidelands.org/1971_oil_spill.php

July 15, 2017

Photo of the Week: Baby Green Herons

Just when we thought baby season was starting to slow down, these three orphaned Green Heron chicks came into care this week because of human kindness. After the mother heron was struck by a car near Glendale, CA, a Good Samaritan scooped up the brood and delivered them to our Los Angeles wildlife center.

The siblings are self-feeding, which is a sign they are doing well in care. Over the course of 25 days, they will fledge (learn to fly) and they will be released to the wild. Check out this video of this energetic threesome.

To spot a Green Heron in the wild, visit a coastal or inland wetland and carefully scan the banks looking for a small, hunchbacked bird with a long, straight bill. They are quite shy and will fly away if approached too closely. One fascinating fact: Green Herons are a species that are known to use tools. During feeding, they are known to drop small items on the water’s surface to entice small fish, making them true fisher-birds! You can see this behavior on YouTube.

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Photo by staffer Kylie Clatterbuck

 

June 12, 2017

Photo of the Week: Baby Birds…not quite yet!

Our two wildlife centers are inundated with baby birds, but we also have a large number of not-yet-hatchlings!

This week’s photo shows the egg incubator at our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center with a variety of eggs in it. The top row has a number of Western Gull eggs from the ongoing Bay Bridge demolition project, and the bottom row has California Quail eggs. Not shown are two very special eggs — from an American Bittern!

All of these eggs are from abandoned or disturbed nests. Fortunately, we have experience with all three species of hatchling, so we’re ready for any chicks that come along.

To the right is a Western Gull chick from last season, so you can see why we’re eagerly awaiting their hatching.

Photos by Jennifer Linader and Cheryl Reynolds

 

June 6, 2017

Photo of the Week: Baby Grebe

This week we have a nice surprise in the fuzzy silver face of a young diving bird called a grebe. While we are not yet sure if this chick is a Western Grebe or Clark’s Grebe since the two species look quite alike at this age, we are quite sure he is adorable!

This “grebe-ling” was rescued in Clearlake, CA, and is now in care at our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center. While we care for many adult grebes that are sick or injured, we rarely see them at this tender age.

Mother grebes lay 2-4 eggs. The hatching of chicks is not synchronized and the last egg may be abandoned in nest. The young grebe-lings will hitch a ride on a parent’s back as they head out on the water. Baby grebes have a red dot on their forehead that quite amazingly turns darker when the bird is hungry. Aren’t birds incredible?! Learn more: http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/western-grebe

In the meantime, click on the video below or go here to see this beautiful young aquatic bird.

Photo and video by Cheryl Reynolds