Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Features

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!

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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 16, 2014

Renew your membership now and…

Puffins-KennethColeSchneider

Dear friends,

Every fall, we humbly ask you to join or renew your membership with International Bird Rescue.

What we cannot say enough is, Thank you. A majority of our funding comes from people like you. And thanks to a longtime generous donor, when you join as a new member or renew your membership, your gift is DOUBLED.

IBR-breakdownIn 2014, we’ve seen it all: A pelican’s throat slashed by unknown assailants, a tiny aquatic patient among California’s most threatened, a colony of Black-crowned Night Herons disturbed by tree trimmers that resulted in our raising of many orphaned chicks … the list goes on and on. We even said goodbye to our beloved executive director, who left an indelible mark on the world of wildlife conservation and rehabilitation.

Will you help secure a solid future for this vital work? Your membership dollars support:

• The expert animal care for thousands of birds each year at our wildlife centers

• A global oil spill response team that ­has led emergency efforts on six continents

• Research and advocacy into seabird health and conservation that are critical to understanding global marine issues

And thanks to our partners, we have some wonderful perks for your membership. Click here to check them out! Join our Seabird Circle monthly giving program at $20 a month and you’ll receive all three gifts!

There’s never been a better time to become a member or to renew your membership.

Your support makes all the difference. And now you can double your impact through a matching gift from an anonymous donor. We need your support in order to secure this matching donation.

Every bird truly does matter. And so does every member.

Sincerely,

Barbara Signature

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

Puffin photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider/Flickr Creative Commons

September 3, 2014

Protecting Brown Pelicans

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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.

August 19, 2014

International Bird Rescue teams up with the Port of Long Beach!

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Today, we’re excited to announce a new partnership with our friends at the Port of Long Beach to protect and honor the birds of our beloved coastal ecoystems! As part of this collaboration, the Port has committed $20,000 in 2014 to the care of our bird patients!

Here’s the backstory on this partnership:

A few months ago, the Port stepped forward to help us care for Pink the Pelican, a California Brown Pelican found in Long Beach with his pouch mutilated from ear to ear. News outlets nicknamed the bird “Pink” for his temporary leg band during the bird’s stay at our wildlife center in nearby San Pedro.

The perpetrators of this animal cruelty act have yet to be found. But thanks in part to The Port of Long Beach and its Green Port Policy, we were successful in giving Pink a second chance out in the wild.

So in the spirit of Pink, we’ve teamed up with the Port to bring you more stories of seabirds and shorebirds that are harmed by the human environment, yet receive expert treatment by our animal care staff. Each featured bird is symbolically “adopted” by our Port friends, who will support the animal from intake to joyful release.

AMAVThis month’s featured patient: An orphaned American Avocet.

Long-legged and often found in fresh and saltwater wetlands, the American Avocet is instantly recognized by its distinctive upturned bill that the bird uses in a sweeping motion to catch small aquatic prey in shallow water and mudflats.

This avocet was brought to us as an orphan after it was found abandoned in an industrial area. Our staff has raised the baby bird from incubator to outdoor aviary, where this avocet currently is located.

American Avocets depend on some of Southern California’s last remaining wetlands, including the nearby Ballona Creek and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach.

Tomorrow, we’ll be showing you an up-close-and-personal look at this bird during a routine exam by the wildlife rehabilitation team.

If you’d like to “adopt” your own animal, there are many to choose from at many different levels of support. Learn more by clicking here.

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August 15, 2014

Golden Eagle entangled in barbed wire

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

GOEASoon after sunrise on August 14, this Golden Eagle was found entangled in a barbed wire fence by our very own San Francisco Bay center volunteer and outreach coordinator, Cheryl Reynolds.

Despite the awful predicament you see in the photo above, the eagle luckily was located at the Grizzly Island Wildlife Complex not far from our wildlife center.

With the help of volunteer Kathy Koehler and a local CalTrans biologist who happened to drive by, the team was able to cut the wire on each side of the bird. However, one barb had punctured the eagle’s leg, requiring the medical attention of our staff.

With the eagle under anesthesia, Dr. Rebecca Duerr (shown below with center manager Michelle Bellizzi assisting) successfully removed the barb during surgery on Thursday morning.

The eagle was later transferred to raptor specialists at Lindsay Wildlife Museum. The bird’s prognosis remains very guarded as it may have nerve damage to the leg and a respiratory problem.

Raptor entanglement with barbed wire is a common problem seen by wildlife rehabilitators. Here’s another such story via Teton Raptor Center in Wyoming.

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds and Isabel Luevano

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"Barbed wire that was removed from Golden Eagle #14-2708 leg"

 

June 18, 2014

In care: Brown Pelican with an odd injury

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Photo by Bill Steinkamp

Often we receive birds with inexplicable injuries. This is one such case.

Animal control officers recently transported a Brown Pelican with an injured foot to our Los Angeles center. Our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, found and removed two sharp, wood objects that had impeded the bird’s ability to bear weight on its foot.

And that was just the beginning. Dr. Duerr then found a fishing hook embedded in the back of the bird’s throat requiring surgery to retrieve. During surgery, more hook fragments were found in the pelican’s stomach, all of which also were removed.

And here’s the mystery injury: The x-ray you see here shows a large metal object embedded in the pelican’s synsacrum, or pelvis. It was lodged deep in a hole adjacent to the spinal cord, completely surrounded by bone. Dr. Duerr initially assumed this metal object was a bullet of some kind, but upon cleaning it off after surgery, noted that it looked more like a fishing sinker.

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Sinker

If that’s the case, how would a 12 millimeter-long fishing sinker get embedded in the pelvis of a pelican? Speculation so far has settled on a high powered slingshot or some sort of homemade ammunition. Tests came back positive for lead toxicity, for which this bird is currently undergoing treatment.

Pelicans with fishing line or tackle-related injuries continue to flood our centers this summer. Monofilament line can create horrible constriction wounds and hooks may penetrate joints or other crucial anatomic areas. If you see fishing line or hooks in the environment, you can do the birds and other animals a huge favor by carefully picking it up and disposing of it properly.

This likely cruelty case comes about two months after the Pink the Pelican story.

May 29, 2014

Strengthening our Future: 2013 Annual Report

Dear Bird Lovers,

It’s my distinct pleasure to release International Bird Rescue’s annual report, a comprehensive look at our 2013 calendar year achievements that span the IBR mission: oil spill response, wildlife rehabilitation, innovative research and outreach to the communities we serve.

Download the 2013 Annual Report here (7.1 MB).

We’re extremely proud to have improved IBR’s financial outlook in 2013. A surplus in operating revenue helped us to shore up a 2012 deficit, while our strategic moves to cut administrative expenses and expand oiled wildlife response work to Canada (where it’s greatly needed) gave us new opportunities to strengthen IBR’s financial future.

But we’ve not stopped for a moment to rest. This year, we’ve seen an extremely busy season at both of our California wildlife centers, commanding additional staff and resources to carry out the Every Bird Matters pledge.

In 2014, we’ve also undertaken required improvements to our Alaska operations with a new Alaska Wildlife Response Center in Anchorage. This is a significant investment, but one critical to oiled bird response in the pristine Alaskan environment that we serve. As the world goes to greater lengths for energy extraction, IBR’s work has never been more important.

And your support of us has never been more needed. We thank all our members for ensuring that injured, oiled, abused and orphaned wild birds get the care they deserve from the world’s experts.

Killdeer-Suzi Eszterhas

Baby Killdeer, photo by Suzi Eszterhas

Sincerely,

Jay Holcomb-Signature
Jay Holcomb
Director

P.S. – As of this week, our centers are caring for over 300 birds, many of which are orphans. These are extremely busy days for our staff, who raise ducklings, goslings, killdeer, avocets and more. You can support their care through our Orphaned Baby Bird Fund!

May 28, 2014

Rehabilitated Snowy Egrets settle into San Francisco Bay

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Photos by Cindy Margulis

Golden Gate Audubon Society executive director Cindy Margulis recently sent us these photos of a Snowy Egret with a red leg band (and several hungry babies) at the Alameda Bay Farm Colony in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band indicates that this bird was a former patient of our San Francisco Bay center in Fairfield, CA.

Margulis notes that she has seen as many as four red-banded egrets at this location thus far in 2014 — birds that likely were released at the nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park, about two miles away.

“They learned the location, most likely, from following the foraging adult Snowy Egrets in the MLK marsh, once they were released,” Margulis says. “Then, after surviving to reach breeding age, they knew just where to start their own families!”

It’s always a thrill to see the birds we care for become a part of the breeding population. Thanks for sending, Cindy!

Meanwhile, our San Francisco Bay center currently is caring for 16 Snowy Egrets. Check out the species in our care here.

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May 2, 2014

Array of pelicans in care this week

American White Pelican#14-0358 in care at SF Bay Center
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

While Pink has garnered national attention in recent days due to a particularly heartbreaking cruelty incident, International Bird Rescue’s California centers have been caring for many other pelican patients as well. Here are a few snapshots:

American White Pelican (above): This beautiful bird arrived at our San Francisco Bay center on April 19 from Wildlife Rescue of Silicon Valley, having been found in Morgan Hill, CA unable to fly. Our team observed several wounds of unknown cause, including one on the animal’s upper left chest.

The bird is scheduled to undergo surgery soon for a suspected abscess. Currently this pelican is in our pelican aviary and is flighted. As you can see, the bird also is in breeding condition, with a large “horn” protruding from its upper mandible.

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Photo by Julie Skoglund

Oiled Brown Pelican: Over the past month, our Los Angeles center has received two fully oiled pelicans found on Southern California beaches. The first one was 100% oiled by a contaminant with the consistency of motor oil (click here for the previous post on this pelican). The second oiled animal can be seen above in a photo prior to the wash.

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Photo by Kelly Berry

Hatch-Year Brown Pelican: Both our centers typically receive large numbers of young pelicans, many found thin, dehydrated and wandering in heavily urban areas. The first such “hatch-year” bird arrived on Saturday to our Los Angeles center, having been found at the Long Beach Aquarium. The patient was both dehydrated and anemic upon arrival, though despite her condition, she began to self-feed right away.

All of these birds are available for a Pelican Partner adoption. Find out more about this unique program here.

April 18, 2014

A Red-breasted Merganser at our SF Bay center

Red-breasted Merganser # 14-0243 in care at SF Bay Center
Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

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

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

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

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

Red-breasted Merganser # 14-0243 in care at SF Bay Center

April 3, 2014

Flying practice for pelican Red #308

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 22, 2014

A look back at Exxon Valdez, 25 years later

This week is the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez tragedy. To mark the occasion, we spoke with three of our emergency responders who were on the ground rescuing birds and otters in 1989.

It’s a really touching look at what an oiled wildlife responder does, and how this spill forever changed the nature of our work.

Special thanks to Exxon Valdez emergency responders Jay Holcomb, Curt Clumpner and Mimi Wood Harris.

March 19, 2014

National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Annual Symposium

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International Bird Rescue staff give a presentation on physical therapy, photos by Curt Clumpner

Last week, 500+ wildlife rehabilitators came together from throughout North America (and in some cases from around the world) to exchange knowledge and experience, to connect with old colleagues and to meet new ones, and to re-energize themselves going into spring—what is known in this venue as “baby season.”

The National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Annual Symposium took place over five days outside of Nashville, TN. The conference included more than 100 presentations by wildlife rehabilitators, wildlife veterinarians, wildlife biologists and non-profit administrators. There were lectures, workshops and roundtables, often in four different rooms at any given moment, addressing everything from reptile nutrition, mammal fracture immobilization, improving volunteer programs, non-profit business models, cage design, social media use, aquatic bird rehabilitation, succession planning and more. It’s the largest and most important educational opportunity to support wildlife rehabilitators in their goal to constantly broaden their knowledge and improve the care they give to the orphaned, injured or displaced animals.

International Bird Rescue and its staff and volunteers believe deeply in this goal and have long supported NWRA’s mission and the conference. A number of International Bird Rescue’s staff members have served on NWRA’s Board of Directors over the last 20 years, and our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, recently joined the board to continue that commitment.

In Nashville, our staff and volunteers were once again full participants, learning from others and also sharing their knowledge and experience with more than 12 hours worth of lectures and workshops. In addition to supporting the conference with our knowledge, we sponsored the physical therapy workshop, presented by Dr. Duerr and Julie Skoglund, Staff members Michelle Bellizzi and Curt Clumpner also presented during the symposium.

We see this as a great investment in both our own organization and in our goal to increase the capacity of wildlife rehabilitators everywhere to return wildlife to the wild. —Curt Clumpner

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February 19, 2014

Glaucous-winged Gull with a double fracture

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Photos by Isabel LuevanoDSC_0033-L

This Glaucous-winged Gull was admitted to Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz on January 31 with a badly broken right wing and a wound on its hock joint. After transfer to our SF Bay center we found the bird to have a massive amount of soft tissue damage at the site of a double fracture of both the radius and ulna.

In order to have a decent prognosis for recovery, this sort of combination fracture requires surgical pinning. After a day of stabilizing care, our veterinarian pinned the wing fractures and also dressed the leg injury on the hock. The bird recovered from surgery well and has been doing great since the procedure. Currently, the leg injury has largely healed and the pinned wing is doing well.

Initial concerns about blood supply and whether the soft tissue injuries were too severe to support fracture healing have been resolved. Prognosis for flight ability remains guarded.

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X-rays of the double fracture, shown on the left

February 9, 2014

For the lovebird in Your life: Adopt a Duckling Duo

Valentine-TemplateThis Valentine’s Day, share a special note to a lovebird in your life with our duckling pair adoption. For just a $20 gift to International Bird Rescue, we’ll create this custom valentine e-card with an optional personal message and send it on February 14 to your special valentine.

Your gift will help support the care and feeding of hundreds of orphaned baby birds like these wonderful ducklings cared for in the spring by International Bird Rescue.

There are many reasons why large numbers of orphaned ducklings end up at our centers. Many mother ducks see landscaped yards as prime nesting spots. Once hatched, mother ducks must walk their babies to the closest available water.

In that initial and important first journey, they meet cars, dogs, people, steep gutters, storm drains and wild predators. Many ducklings become separated and stranded and attempts to reunite them with their panicked mother are often futile. Thankfully, many of these birds end up in our care. Click here to send a valentine!

Your gift of $20 will help care for two ducklings. This is the perfect valentine for the wildlife lover in your life!

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Team International Bird Rescue