Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue


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

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.

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

February 7, 2014

Fulmars at the San Francisco Bay center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Isabel Luevano

Photo by Isabel Luevano



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

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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.

January 23, 2014

Good Day Sacramento flies by International Bird Rescue

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Many thanks to Good Day Sacramento’s Courtney Dempsey for stopping by our San Francisco Bay center to check in on the Brown Booby in care — as well as to chat with center manager Michelle Bellizzi about what the public should do if they come across an injured bird or other animal (answer: call 866-WILD-911).

Click on the image above to watch one of the live segments from the morning show on Wednesday, January 22.

Hope to see you again, Courtney!


January 9, 2014

Update on the Brown Booby at our SF Bay center

BRBOOne of the last patients admitted to our San Francisco Bay center in 2013 is this Brown Booby, a very rare visitor to the area. Here’s a video update on its condition during the week of January 6, 2014.

This is the first such case at our SF Bay center, as the Brown Booby’s range is typically well far south: Its permanent range is as far north as the Gulf of California, as shown in a very helpful map by SDakotabirds.com.

On Wednesday, the Brown Booby (we believe it to be female but cannot confirm) was recently featured in Fairfield’s Daily Republic. There have been other Brown Booby vagrant sightings in recent memory, including this very strange case of a booby showing up in Buffalo, NY. And we also cared for a Blue-footed Booby in Los Angeles this past fall, garnering significant media attention.

We’ll post any future updates to this blog.

Brown Booby in care at SF Bay Center
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

January 8, 2014

A Northern Fulmar recovers from clavicle fracture

NOFUWe very rarely receive Northern Fulmars with fractures. A recent exception is this bird found stranded at the Monterey Beach Hotel on December 20. He was transferred to our San Francisco Bay center from our colleagues at Monterey SPCA on December 23.

We found the bird to have a fractured clavicle and several toe injuries. The clavicle fracture has since healed nicely, and we are currently treating the foot problems while he packs on the calories out in one of our pools.

This bird arrived extremely emaciated but has gained a lot of weight while in care. Below are X-rays of his broken clavicle and the bird waking up after anesthesia for foot treatment.

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Fulmar photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr