Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue


June 29, 2015

The Release Files: Black Rail


A Black Rail is back again where it belongs – hiding in nature.

Staff from our San Francisco Bay Center released the hatchling year Black Rail after came to us via WildCare after being rescued in Novato. It arrived on May 25, 2015 weighing 11 grams. It found with a small wound on its left elbow.

It more than doubled its weight to 24 grams before being released on June 26th at Black Point in Novato, CA.

Black Rails are super secretive as it walks or runs through shallow salt and freshwater marshes. It is rarely seen in flight. It’s the smallest of all Rails.

Watch the short release video  > >

April 28, 2015

Influx of Black-crowned Night Herons

Black Crowned Night Heron in care at our Los Angeles Center. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck

Black Crowned Night Herons in care at our Los Angeles Center. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck

Black Crowned Night Herons in care at our Los Angeles Center. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck

This is baby bird season and at each of our two California centers we’re beginning to see an influx of young aquatic birds – especially Black-crowned Night Herons.

A handful of these sharp-beaked birds are in care at our Los Angeles Center after being found at two separate rookeries in Marina del Rey and in Long Beach.

All are doing great, self feeding and being given supplemental vitamins. They will likely move outside this week.

We currently have 38 Black-crowned Night Herons in care between both California centers, as well as a host of other sick, injured and orphaned birds that need your support! You can donate to help with their ongoing care here.


April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day: “We All Love Wildlife” by Dawn

Our friends and partners at Dawn have come up with another terrific web video. This one captures the heart and soul of one of our long-time volunteers, Deborah Heritage, working with wildlife at our San Francisco Bay Center.

Volunteer Deborah Heritage releases a Grebe.

Volunteer Deborah Heritage releases a Horned Grebe.

Deborah speaks about becoming an empty nest parent. She began as a volunteer in 2008 at International Bird Rescue.

“Maybe I’m just the kind of person who just wants to keep taking care of something – and the birds came into my life,” says Deborah. “My nest is full of birds right now!”

IBR, the earth and the birds are so lucky to have dedicated volunteers like Deborah.

Happy Earth Day from all of us!


April 9, 2015

Your Donation Goes Twice As Far…


Dear fellow bird lover,

After helping raise 1,400 baby birds last year, THIS spring is clearly going to be another busy season!

Last week we received a “Duckling Dozen” rescued by a California Highway Patrol officer and our friends at Solano County Animal Services. These 12 ducklings were rescued from the freeway after the mother duck lost her life. After closing the freeway, rescuers scooped the frightened birds up and quickly brought them to our San Francisco Bay Center.

Three goslings are some of the other baby birds in care this month at IBR. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Three goslings in care this month at our San Francisco Bay Center. (Top) Lots of orphaned Mallard ducklings, including these rescued from a local freeway.  Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

This is where we ask you to help support these precious lives.

Become a member now during our Spring Membership Drive and a generous donor will match your contribution up to $10,000! Just think, we can double your donation to support the birds!


We want to encourage monthly donors too, so we have special offer provided by ALEX AND ANI and their philanthropic division, CHARITY BY DESIGN. Supporters who become monthly donors will receive the ALEX AND ANI ‘Sacred Dove’ charm bangle, a beautiful piece from the ALEX AND ANI collection. It’s a wonderful way to show your support for the birds that inspire all of us every day. And you’ll be an official member of our Seabird Circle. Your pledge of $15 a month or more as a sustaining member makes it all possible.

With encroaching development squeezing out the available habitat for wildlife and changes in our climate, our patient-load continues to grow. Your support is needed more than ever to help us get through what we know will be a season full of animals in need – they need our lifesaving support to help them through being orphaned, entangled in fishing line, sick or injured.

Won’t you please join our Spring Campaign and help us meet our goal of raising $20,000 and help us help the thousands of wild birds that will need our help this year?

Thank you again for your unwavering and generous support,

Barbara Signature




Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

April 1, 2015

Two Rare Albatross Ready For Release After Unusual SoCal Landings


Two Laysan Albatross, rare seabirds for Southern California that were rescued separately in the Los Angeles area, will be released together this week. They were each rehabilitated at International Bird Rescue’s San Pedro center.

Laysan Albatross was found sitting on a construction site in Palm Desert. Photo courtesy Melissa Usrey

One Laysan Albatross was found sitting on a construction site in Palm Desert, CA. Photo courtesy Melissa Usrey

One Albatross was rescued on March 21st after being found trapped between two containers aboard a cargo ship headed to the Port of Long Beach. The seabird was also oiled by grease and was cleaned by IBR staff last week. Read earlier blog post: Laysan Albatross Long, Greasy Ride to Freedom

The other Laysan Albatross was found on March 20th in the desert city of Rancho Mirage, about 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean. It was stabilized by The Living Desert Zoo Gardens and transferred to IBR on March 30th.

Port_of_LB_LogoWe also want to say thanks to the Port of Long Beach for generously supporting the care of these majestic seabirds.

Laysan Albatross are frequent stowaways on container ships that travel the ocean highways. They have often been spotted resting or even building nests aboard these vessels.

The stowaway phenomenon is generally considered to be a simple case of mistaken identity. Laysan Albatrosses may see the flat surface of a cargo ship as the perfect new nesting island during breeding season.

With their tremendous 6 ½ foot wingspan, Laysan Albatross can glide long distances – sometimes 300-400 miles in one day. They breed on tiny islands in the North Pacific Ocean about 3,000 miles from California.

Top photo by Kelly Berry – International Bird Rescue

March 30, 2015

Join us in our “Every Bird Matters” Spring Membership Drive!

First Duckling of the Spring baby bird season. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

First duckling of the Spring baby bird season. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Dear fellow bird lover,

Our first baby ducking showed up this week, signaling the start of beautiful and busy spring.

It’s already been a busy winter and we cared for hundreds of seabirds affected by the “mystery goo” event in San Francisco Bay. More than 160 of those birds have been cleaned and returned the wild.

Without a responsible party, we funded this extraordinary response with contributions from the public – bird lovers like you, who believe wildlife needs more support than ever, and they’re right!

To help us continue our “Every Bird Matters” programs we are asking all our supporters to join through our Spring Membership Drive. This will insure that we have funds to meet the need of thousands of baby birds that will flood our two California centers. Our goal is $20,000 for this drive.


A wonderful donor has offered to match, dollar for dollar, any donations up to $10,000! What a great way to make your donation go twice as far and help us continue to save thousands of sick, injured and orphaned birds this year!

We want to encourage monthly donors too, so we have special offer provided by ALEX AND ANI and their philanthropic division, CHARITY BY DESIGN. Supporters who become monthly donors will also receive the ALEX AND ANI ‘Sacred Dove’ charm bangle, a beautiful piece from the ALEX AND ANI collection. It’s a wonderful way to show your support for the birds that inspire all of us every day. And you’ll be an official member of our Seabird Circle. Your pledge of $15 a month or more as a sustaining member makes it all possible.

Mallard Duckling at SF Bay CenterOr, you can make a single gift by clicking here. Whatever the level, all our supporters are bird rescue heroes.

We see evidence everyday that the environment is changing and we receive thousands of birds each year that are harmed by human impact, whether it is fishing line entanglement, urban encroachment or pollution. To quote our past director, Jay Holcomb, “When you stop caring for the individuals, you’ve stopped caring about the population”.

Your gift is crucial to ensuring we continue to give world-class care to birds in need, including this Brown Pelican, injured by a gunshot to its wing and in care right now at our Los Angeles Center.

Thank you for your generosity and for helping us continue to help the birds.

With deepest gratitude,

Barbara Signature



Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

March 3, 2015

The Release Files: Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull takes flight. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Bonaparte’s Gull takes flight in Suisun Marsh. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

We recently returned a Bonaparte’s Gull to the wild after this patient was treated in the midst of the “Mystery Goo Response”.

This Bonaparte’s Gull was introduced as a Patient of the Week December 6, 2014. The bird was found at Silver Oak Winery in Sonoma County, and arrived with a very large laceration exposing its thigh muscles from hip to mid leg (3 inches long on a 120 gram bird!). It also had severe damage to its right foot.

BOGUThe thigh wound was surgically closed. The middle toe was not salvageable and was amputated, while the outer toe had a laceration that was sutured closed, and an injury to the inner toe’s first toe joint was stabilized with a splint for two weeks.

This bird’s injuries were consistent with what we have seen before in birds that have run into razor wire. After two months of treatment, the thigh laceration and foot injuries have healed very nicely and the bird grew new feathers on the new skin at the former thigh wound.

This resilient little gull spent the last few weeks flying and eating very well while growing in new feathers. It was released last month at the Suisun Marina.

– Rebecca Duerr, Staff Veterinarian, International Bird Rescue


February 26, 2015

Honoring school kids fundraising efforts with a bird release

Pelicans-Released-Alameda-PDS“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way…” 
~Greatest Love Of All song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed

On a beautifully clear Thursday morning we honored a special group of caring third graders from Park Day School in Oakland. We inviting them to a bird release to celebrate their fundraising prowess after they collected $603.30 for the Mystery Goo seabird response.

Thank you PDS kids and their teachers Renee Miller, Mona Halaby, and Jeanine Harmon!

All photos by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue


Among the birds released: Four Brown Pelicans at Encinal Beach in Alameda.

"Park Day School bird release 2/16/15 at Encinal Beach Alameda"

Park Day School students present ceremonial $603.30 check from fundraising efforts for mystery goo birds.

"Park Day School bird release 2/16/15 at Encinal Beach Alameda"

February 20, 2015

Honoring Volunteers: Release of 18 More Clean, Healthy Mystery Goo Birds

2-SUSC-Release-Feb-20-2015-CR-webToday we gave thanks to some of our wonderful volunteers who were so instrumental in returning clean, healthy mystery goo birds back to the wild. As part of the celebration, 18 more seabirds were released at Fort Baker in Sausalito Friday morning.


Volunteers celebrate the release the seabirds, including the Surf Scoter (above). Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

With this release, the total of clean birds returned to the wild is now 128. Another 56 birds are still in care at our San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield.

More than 300 volunteers from all over California came together to help in the care of hundreds of birds that began arriving for the East Bay on January 16, 2015 coated in a mystery substance. Read more

We’d like to again thank all the groups that sent staff and volunteers, including: Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), East Bay Regional Parks, Wildlife Emergency Services, Peninsula Humane Society, Baykeeper, Audubon California, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, Lindsey Wildlife Museum, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, OSPR, Bird Ally X, Wildlife Care Association, Native Songbird Care and Education Center, Pacific Wildlife Care, Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, Mount Diablo Audubon, Golden Gate Audubon, Native Animal Rescue, SPCA for Monterey County, Napa Wildlife, Marine Mammal Center, California Waterfowl Association, Beach Watch and SeaWorld.


February 4, 2015

Nothing like a bird release to lift the spirits

Surf-Scoter-flies-Mystery-Goo-released-1-4-15-Oakland-webA Surf Scoter flies free at the Oakland Port Wednesday. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Twenty more birds cleaned of the East Bay mystery goo were released Wednesday morning at the Oakland Port.

Dunlins, a shorebird prevalent in San Francisco Bay, is released in Oakland.

Dunlins, a shorebird prevalent in San Francisco Bay, is released in Oakland.

“There’s nothing like a bird release to lift the spirits,” said Russ Curtis, spokesperson for International Bird Rescue. “Our reward is seeing these beautiful, clean birds returned to their natural habitat in good health.”

This is the first release in the East Bay where nearly 3 weeks ago hundreds of birds were rescued coated with a sticky, unknown contaminant. The birds were released along the sand dunes at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park at the Oakland Port.

With this release, the total of birds returned to the wild is now 101. More than 110 birds still remain in care at our San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield, CA.

Among those released: 11 Surf Scoters, 4 Dunlins, 4 Western Sandpipers, and 1 Eared Grebe.

The mystery goo event began on January 16, 2015, when staff members at the East Bay Regional Park District began rescuing seabirds beached on local shores and covered in a thick substance. The affected birds lost their critical ability to stay waterproof in the cool San Francisco Bay waters.

Over the last several weeks each of the birds was medically stabilized and then washed using a combination of baking soda and vinegar, followed by washing with Dawn dishwashing soap.

To date, 323 birds were delivered to our center. 110 where DOA or died in care. Another 170 birds were collected dead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

State and private labs are still testing the goo feather samples. Earlier testing ruled out petroleum products as the culprit. See: Scientists Struggle to Identify Gooey Substance, Planet Experts

Since there is no responsible party to pay for this response, International Bird Rescue is shouldering the complete cost of caring for these seabirds. Donations are always appreciated.

Some of our volunteers, Marge Elliott, left, and Julia Winiarski, carry birds to release site.

February 1, 2015

132 seabirds, once covered in goo, still need your help

Photo of Surf Scoter release mystery goo 2015 response

Clean release: First 24 birds, including Surf Scoters, were released at Fort Baker on January 28th. Photo by Russ Curtis

Dear friends,

On behalf of my entire team, I’d like to thank all of you for supporting our work rescuing hundreds of seabirds affected by the San Francisco mystery goo. From our volunteers and supporters to the general public and the media, we’ve been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support for the care of these birds.

Though we’ve been thrilled to release 81 healthy seabirds thus far back into the wild, we still have 132 birds in care that will need many more days of support at our San Francisco Bay center. The testing of goo-covered feathers continues at government and private laboratories. But the substance remains a mystery.

SOS-Greater-Scaup-mystery-event-2015-CRAnd our bills for these animals, as well as non-“gooed” wild birds in our care for other injuries, continue to mount. The more time passes, the less likely that a culprit behind the dumping of this substance (if it is indeed manmade) will be found and held financially accountable. It’s people like you who have sustained us. If you haven’t yet donated and are wondering if we still need your support, the answer is Yes.

This all started on January 16, 2015, when our colleagues at East Bay Regional Park District began seeing several species of seabirds beached on local shores and covered in a thick substance. The birds had lost their critical ability to stay waterproof in the cold San Francisco Bay waters.

Photo of incoming Bufflehead

Bufflehead coated in the mystery goo. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Each of the birds was medically stabilized and then washed using a combination of baking soda and vinegar, followed by washing with Dawn detergent.

To date, 323 birds were delivered to our center. Another 151 birds were collected dead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

Our staff and more than 300 volunteers worked overtime to give these birds the best chance possible to survive. If you haven’t already, please consider supporting our work. Because this was not a spill caused by an identifiable company or party, we are have been shouldering all the costs regarding this mystery event.


Flotilla of Surf Scoters are among the 132 birds still in care.

Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated. The care of these birds, including Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Common Goldeneyes and Scaups, is lengthy and expensive. View our BirdCam

With your support we are committed as ever, to ensuring “Every Bird Matters”.


Barbara Signature



Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director


Shorebirds, cleaned of goo, were some of our smallest patients. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

January 18, 2015

ABC 7 reports on the substance killing Bay Area seabirds

Lisa Amin Gulezian of ABC7 News/San Francisco reported from our San Francisco Bay center in Fairfield last night on the mystery substance incident in the East Bay affecting many seabird species. Senior IBR staffers Michelle Bellizzi and Julie Skoglund are interviewed about this unprecedented situation.

Updated 1/18/15 @ 8:39 pm: More than 150 of seabirds contaminated with a mystery substance are in care at our San Francisco Bay Center. Teams will resume at dawn the search for more fouled birds along the eastern shore of SF Bay – including Alameda, Bay Farm Island and south toward Hayward.

Found a bird? Report online: http://goo.gl/forms/cRxIyc1bTx

We also are now having success in washing birds healthy enough to endure the wash process. The birds are being cleaned in various baths that includes Methyl soyate, vinegar, baking soda and copious amounts of Dawn dishwashing liquid.

We need your support. With no indication of the substance’s origin, International Bird Rescue is paying for all emergency care costs at this time and is seeking public support. Donations to help can be made online or by mail to International Bird Rescue, 4369 Cordelia Rd, Fairfield CA 94534. Please consider a donation of $25, $50 or more to care for these wonderful seabirds.

Donate-Button"East Bay Regional Park Event 1/16/15 incoming Surf Scoter"
A Surf Scoter is brought to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center covered in the mystery substance. 

January 16, 2015

New patient: Wayward Laysan Albatross

Laysan Albatross. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Laysan Albatross in care at our San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

This week we received a new patient of note: a wayward Laysan Albatross.

This wide ranging bird was found in the 100 block of Mt. View Avenue, Bay Point, CA – near Suisun Bay. It was sitting on the ground and brought to Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s wildlife rehabilitation center in Walnut Creek.

During the intake exam the Albatross was found to have superficial wounds on its maxilla (upper bill) and nares (nostrils), as well as some bruising on his legs and feet, although no open wounds. The bird was transferred to our San Francisco Bay Center and is in good condition. Its eating and getting some exercise in one of the center’s pelagic pools.


Laysan Albatross with its impressive wingspan, can fly great distances for food. Photo: Caleb Slemmons – Flickr/CC

With an impressive 6 foot wingspan, Albatrosses can fly great distances to find food, some as far as 2,000 miles in a single day. They range from the Gulf of Alaska, to the Bering Sea, and Japan – to the west coast of California and Mexico.

Laysan Albatrosses breed primarily in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands – especially on Midway Atoll. They are susceptible to entanglement in fishing lines and plastic ingestion. Many deaths have been documented over the years of Albatrosses eating bits and pieces of plastic trash that floats throughout the Pacific Ocean. The Midway Film captures the concern that many share on this species blight: http://www.midwayfilm.com/

January 6, 2015

Patient in care: Surf Scoter

Male Surf Scoter in care at our San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Male Surf Scoter in care at our San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Who does not love a Surf Scoter? With its striking multi-colored bill and a male’s velvety black feathers.

This bird is in care after getting entangled in fishing line. It had a hook in its his leg and another in his neck. He is recovering well.

You can see this Scoter on our birdcam: http://bird-rescue.org/birdcam//birdcam-1.aspx

December 13, 2014

Our patient stories of the year

Puffins-300x168Dear Friends,

As 2014 comes to a close, our wildlife centers in California have cared for nearly 5,000 patients since January 1.

And every bird has a story.

Many of the animals we rescue live most of their lives far away from the human-inhabited world. Others are caught up in it (sometimes literally) and face a number of man-made threats to their existence. We do our very best every day to give these animals a second chance — to fly, to find a mate, to perpetuate their species for generations to come. This holiday season, we’re thankful you’ve shared this mission by supporting International Bird Rescue.

Challenging as it was, we culled eight of the most memorable patient stories of the year for this holiday newsletter. Your year-end, tax-deductible contribution to International Bird Rescue will help ensure this work remains strong in 2015 and beyond.

Warmest wishes this holiday season,

Barbara Signature

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

A Patient the Size of a Cottonball

Black Rail chick
Black Rails are the Greta Garbos of the North American avian world: They just want to be alone. A threatened species in California, they’re experts in hiding among marshland vegetation, and therefore rarely are seen.

So it came as a surprise that International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center received several injured Black Rails during the course of the year, as well as our first orphaned baby Black Rail, literally the size of a cottonball. Black Rails are semi-precocial, meaning they are able to feed themselves soon after hatching. That proved to be the case for this chick, which needed feeding for the first few days but then began eating mealworms on its own (click here to view).

To help build scientific knowledge of this little-understood animal, we work with the Black Rail Project at the University of California-Berkeley, which banded this bird when it was old enough to be released into marsh habitat.

International Bird Rescue’s team of experts is well-equipped to care for sensitive species – endangered, threatened or near threatened. These include the Marbled Murrelet, California Least Tern, Ashy Storm Petrel, Snowy Plover and Piping Plover.

Red the Pelican Flies Again

Red the Pelican
One of our longest rehabilitation cases is that of Red #308, a California Brown Pelican who spent well over a year in care for a condition all-too-common to these birds: fishing tackle-related injuries. You can read about this patient in an L.A. Times op-ed here.

Brought to our San Francisco Bay center as a hatch-year bird, Red (nicknamed for the color of his temporary leg band) had a horrible wound to his left patagium — a fold of skin on the leading edge of the wing — caused by an embedded fishing hook and monofilament fishing line. Over the course of many months, his injury slowly healed. But Red seemed unable (or uninterested) in flying. So we employed physical therapy and plenty of regular flying workouts, and in time Red was flying from high perch to high perch in the center’s expansive pelican aviary.

Releasing Red in November at Ft. Baker, within a stone’s throw of the Golden Gate Bridge, was an emotional milestone, one made possible by staff and volunteers’ tireless work to save a Brown Pelican from an insidious environmental problem.

We’re proud to see our work with this species prominently featured in the new documentary Pelican Dreams, now in theaters.

Curious Cases of Crash-Landed Grebes

Eared Grebe with Chick
An LAX runway. The Mojave Desert. Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. This fall, Southern California residents have seen a large number of crash-landed grebes (pronounced “greebs”) in urban areas and remote locations far from water.

Crash-landed birds are birds that have hit the ground and are unable to regain flight. For instance, the delightful Eared Grebe (shown here with chick in tow) can easily mistake pavement for water and often becomes grounded in parking lots and streets. Stuck in this predicament, these birds will end up dragging themselves across asphalt and concrete as they try to reach water. Unless captured, treated for their injuries and relocated to water, they don’t survive. (View video of these animals in a diving bird pool here.)

This season, our Los Angeles center has cared for well over 100 crash-landed grebes, many of which were symbolically adopted thanks to our friends at The Port of Long Beach as well as devoted International Bird Rescue supporters.

Photo by Daniel Arndt/Flickr Creative Commons

Brown Boobies, Bookending 2014

Photo of Brown Booby
This year began and ended with Brown Boobies found far from their established ranges and treated by our animal care professionals. A large seabird that breeds in tropical and subtropical regions such as the Gulf of California, the Brown Booby is an uncommon visitor to the West Coast of the U.S. In January, our San Francisco Bay center cared for a Brown Booby found beached and emaciated at Point Reyes National Seashore. Following rehabilitation, the bird was released off the coast of Los Angeles, much closer to its normal range (you can see video of the release here).

Another Brown Booby recently was flown to our L.A. center from Alaska (3,000 miles out of range), where it was found injured on a fishing vessel. This bird remains in care and is no longer limping. We’re very hopeful for an upcoming release!

The name “booby” is thought to be derived from the Spanish word bobo, or “stupid,” given the species’ tendency to land on ships where they were easily caught. Historical records show they were sometimes eaten by shipwrecked sailors on vessels including the Bounty. Whatever their intellectual capacities may be, these birds prove to be charming and charismatic patients!

A Bittersweet Release: Elegant Tern

Photo of Elegant Terns
For every case ending in an awe-inspiring release, there’s an animal whose injuries were just too much to bear.

Some stories are a mix of both.

Over the summer, our Los Angeles center team received an adult Elegant Tern and a tern chick hooked together by a multi-hook fishing lure.

Nick Liberato, a biologist who monitors a tern colony on nearby Terminal Island, found the birds and took this heartbreaking photo upon rescue. “I spotted them as I was ushering some stray chicks back through the chick fencing and into the main rookery,” Liberato says. “At first, I thought they were just tangled in monofilament [fishing line], but when I saw that multi-hooked lure puncturing both of them, I knew my tools wouldn’t cut it, so I got them over to you guys as quickly as possible.”

Our rehabilitation team separated parent from chick and meticulously treated the severe wounds of both animals. Sadly, the tern’s injuries had already become infected, and this baby bird did not survive. The parent bird healed remarkably after several weeks of care, and was released by our intern and volunteer team at Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach, CA. You can see a video of this bittersweet release here.

Photo by Nick Liberato

American Avocet, Viral Video Star

Photo of Avocet Hatching
American Avocets are shorebirds common to the Pacific coast and sport a most-striking upturned bill that the bird uses to “sweep” through the water to catch small invertebrates. In June, an oil spill at a Los Angeles-area refinery caused a small colony of American Avocets to abandon their nests.

Twenty-one eggs were collected and sent to our L.A. center. Only one hatched, and video of this baby bird entering the world went viral on Facebook, with nearly 1 million views. (If you’re not on our Facebook page, we recently posted it on Vimeo too.)

Thanks to eBird, a citizen science project that tracks bird populations, we identified an American Avocet flock in the Los Angeles River where this young bird was later released.

Pink the Pelican

Pink-Pelican-Before-After 2
The story of “Pink,” a California Brown Pelican and arguably one of the most famous patients in International Bird Rescue history, is one that begins with the worst of humankind, but ends with the best. In a saga followed by national media, Pink was starving as a result of a deliberate attack in which its pouch was slit completely by an individual or individuals who to this date remain at large.

Thankfully, pelicans are resilient animals and respond well to expert veterinary and rehabilitative care. International Bird Rescue’s reputation in caring for pelicans is unmatched the world over.

This patient, who wore a pink temporary leg band while at our Los Angeles center (thus the bird’s nickname in the news), was nursed back to health over the course of several weeks. When Pink was strong enough to withstand surgery, our veterinarian sewed his throat pouch back together — a feat requiring two operations and nearly 600 stitches.

Pink was released on the sunny afternoon of June 5, leaping from his crate and soaring above the waves as Catalina Island loomed in the distance. It was a new chapter of life for this wild bird, one that symbolizes everything we stand for as an organization. Contributions from the community and donors around the nation made Pink’s care possible. We will always be grateful for the support, and we’ll share any sightings of Pink should he be spotted in the wild. Pink has since traded his pink band for a blue one, reading V70.

Herons and Egrets vs. Urban Reality

Photo of rescued Heron and Release with kids
The alleged details of the crime screamed media circus: This spring, reports began to surface in Oakland, CA, that a landscaping crew hired by the U.S. Postal Service had trimmed trees where Black-crowned Night Herons were actively nesting. Parents fled, chicks fell to the ground and branches with nests were fed into a woodchipper.

A federal investigation concluded that no baby birds had been killed via woodchipper as originally rumored. But many sustained wounds from their fall, and were transported to our San Francisco Bay center, where they were treated for such injuries as broken mandibles.

International Bird Rescue stayed above the fray and indignation, however much we sympathized with the outrage that many bird lovers had. Our mission was simple and two-fold: one, to care for as many birds as we could, and two, to educate the public that spring is not the time to be trimming your trees for this very reason.

As part of our outreach, we invited the tree-trimmer responsible for the incident to our center for a first-hand look at these heron patients, as well as baby Snowy Egrets (shown below), which also often fall from nests and onto streets and sidewalks. It was a wonderful meeting, one accompanied by unprompted remuneration for the birds’ care by this gentleman.
Photo of Snowy Egret Family
Our San Francisco Bay center, in conjunction with partner wildlife organizations and Audubon chapters, released hundreds of egrets and herons back into the wild during the spring and summer. Some of these releases involved local youth groups like the one you see here.

Saving wildlife, educating the public and inspiring young birdwatchers: Is it possible to have more fulfilling work? We think not. We are International Bird Rescue, and we’re so thankful for your support.

Snowy Egret photo © Silvermans Photography