Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue


April 18, 2014

The week in bird news, April 18

Brown Pelican in the 2010 Gulf oil spill, photo by Brian Epstein

• “Active clean-up” of the 2010 Gulf oil spill has ended, nearly four years after the explosion of the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 workers and caused a sea-floor oil gusher that spewed 4.9 million barrels of crude oil before the wellhead was capped on July 15, 2010. Via New York Times:

In a statement, BP said that the Coast Guard ended patrols on Tuesday of the final three miles of affected shoreline in Louisiana.

Still, the Coast Guard stressed that a more narrow cleanup response would continue and that crews would remain on the Gulf Coast to respond to new reports of oil. Teams will be positioned to provide a rapid response when they are needed, the Coast Guard said in a statement on Tuesday night.

International Bird Rescue worked with Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in co-managing oiled bird rehabilitation centers in four states, as part of a large-scale response to the incident that involved federal and state agencies, industry, and non-governmental organizations. You can see photos of the response on our Flickr page. [New York Times]

• A London street artist is painting all of Britain’s unwittingly urbanized birds, including this Chaffinch. [Policy Mic]197b627aa280f98d389e6589072c45c2

• Coveted commercial shipping sea routes in the Arctic that are increasingly ice-free happen to be crucial marine habitat for millions of seabirds, according to a new study published in the journal Diversity and Distributions. [Alaska Dispatch]

• Earth Day is next week! To honor the upcoming day, our friends at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium have a wonderful event planned this Saturday, the Earth Day Fair and Coastal Bird Fest. [CabrilloMarineAquarium.org]

• Landfill on the high seas: Why is the ocean filled with trash? [NBC News]

• In a brilliant program combining conservation, citizen science and metadata (used for non-nefarious purposes, for once), the Nature Conservancy-backed BirdReturns program pays farmers in the Central California valley to keep rice fields flooded for the welfare of Dunlins and other migratory shorebirds suffering as the result of the state’s epic drought.

“It’s a new ‘Moneyball,’” said Eric Hallstein, a Nature Conservancy economist, referring to the movie about the Oakland Athletics’ data-driven approach to baseball. “We’re disrupting the conservation industry by taking a new kind of data, crunching it differently and contracting differently.” [New York Times]

Tweets of the week:




April 4, 2014

The week in marine news, April 4

Matagorda Island cleanupTask force members remove oil-contaminated sand from the beach on Matagorda Island, Texas, March 30, 2014. Photo via U.S. Coast Guard

Hundreds of dead, oiled birds continue to be found on the Texas Gulf Coast following an oil spill near Galveston late last month. The Texas Tribune reports that as of yesterday, 329 oiled birds had been found from Galveston Bay to North Padre Island over 200 miles south.

“A lot of these shorebird species are not doing well to begin with, and we keep chipping away at their populations,” said David Newstead, a research scientist at the Corpus Christi-based nonprofit Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program. “At some point, they won’t be able to recover from repeat insult.” [Texas Tribune]

• For the first time in centuries, the endangered Nēnē returns to the Hawaiian island of Oahu. [Atlantic Cities]

• A $21,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals responsible for the shooting of three male otters found dead last fall at Asilomar State Beach in Northern California. [Huffington Post]

• A new study shows that dolphins are in poor health following the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. [NOAA Response and Restoration Blog]

Migratory birds flying in Japan’s coastal waters are being surveyed for possible contamination resulting from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. [Earthweek]

Tweets of the week:





March 28, 2014

The week in bird news, March 28

A victim of the Galveston Bay oil spill, photo by Chase A. Fountain, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

• Clean-up and wildlife rescue efforts continue following the collision of two barges on March 22 that caused an estimated 170,000 gallons to spill into Galveston Bay, Texas. The National Audubon Society in a statement reported that damage to bird habitats may be contained to the immediate area surrounding the spill. Only a relatively small number of oiled birds has been collected and transported to wildlife rehabilitators.

Here’s the latest we’ve seen from multiple news outlets:

• Houston Audubon: “It’s a terrible event. It sure could have been a lot worse.” [Los Angeles Times]

• Audubon has a comprehensive map of where beached oil has been spotted, as well as where designated important bird areas and breeding pairs of bird species are located based on 2013 census data. [Audubon]

• The long-term impact of the spill on Galveston Bay is unclear. [Al Jazeera America]

• 10 birds in local habitat that could be affected. [Buzzfeed Community]

• Wildlife responders care for oiled birds that have been captured. [CBS Houston]

• Houston shipping channel has reopened to traffic. [Dallas Morning News]


• All of this news comes on the heels of the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill. Shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez struck BlighExxon_valdez_aground Reef in pristine Prince William Sound, Alaska, home to over 200 bird species. Twenty-five years later, three members of International Bird Rescue’s emergency response team look back on their experiences in this short film for IBR. [Vimeo]

• National Public Radio takes a look at how Exxon Valdez affected local fishermen. [NPR]

• Op-ed: In Prince William Sound, an ecosystem forever changed. [CNN]

• Op-ed: The plight of the pelican in California. [Los Angeles Times]

• US Fish & Wildlife adds the Prairie Chicken to the list of threatened species; backlash predictably ensues. [Fox News]

• Eradication of an invasive plant is paying off on Hawaii’s Midway Island, where albatrosses nesting on native grasses fare much better than nests on nonnative Verbesina. [West Hawaii News]

• The elusive Black Rail may adapt better than you’d think. [Bay Nature]

Tweets of the week:






March 26, 2014

Wildlife experts save birds in Texas spill

Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife wildlife biologist Andy Tirpak collecting a Royal Tern on the east beach in Galveston. Photo by Chase A. Fountain, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

In recent days, we’ve received many inquiries from International Bird Rescue supporters on the oil spill in the Port of Houston near Galveston, Texas. Our colleagues in Texas are currently caring for oiled wildlife from this spill event, which we know has affected several species of birds. International Bird Rescue’s response team has not been activated on this spill at this time, though we are ready to lend our support in efforts if needed.

Let us know if you have any questions about oiled wildlife response. We have over 40 years of experience and knowledge in this field and will respond to questions posed in this post (see comment box below). We’ve worked in the Gulf many times, and co-managed oiled wildlife efforts in four states during the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.

Here’s the latest report we’ve seen on affected animals via the Houston Chronicle.

If you are in the affected area and see any oiled animals, please call 1-888-384-2000 to report your sighting. Thank you.

March 26, 2014

In care this week: emaciated Brown Pelican

Photos by Dave Weeshoff

During the course of the year, we care for many Brown Pelicans found to be emaciated upon intake. Our first such patient came to International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center on BRPESunday via our partners at California Wildlife Center. It’s an adult female captured at Malibu’s Point Mugu, about 70 miles from our L.A. facility.

Currently, the bird is thermoregulating, self feeding and receiving supplemental hydration tubings, rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports.

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.

Further reading on Brown Pelicans:

Keeping watch over brown pelicans, International Bird Rescue blog

Plight of the pelican, Los Angeles Times

Blue-Banded Pelican Project


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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March 14, 2014

The week in bird news, March 14

Short-tailed Albatross, photo via Wikimedia Commons/USFWS

• Sometimes it just takes a simple solution and an ounce of dedication. Though albatrosses face a barrage of threats to their existence, streamers made of plastic tubing are being employed on fishing lines to successfully deter species such as the vulnerable Short-tailed Albatross from becoming victims of longline commercial fishing. [National Geographic]

• We have zooplankton feces and aggregates of algae to thank for handling most heat-trapping CO2 emissions, according to research published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Complicated stuff, but thankfully the Christian Science Monitor has a reader-friendly breakdown. [CSM]

• We’re always heartened to see local media reports spreading the word about the dangers of fishing gear. Here’s a recent report from Florida. [Bradenton Herald]

• Biodiversity in the Arctic is facing a huge threat from climate change, scientists report. “An entire bio-climatic zone, the high Arctic, may disappear. Polar bears and the other highly adapted organisms cannot move further north, so they may go extinct. We risk losing several species forever,” says Hans Meltofte of Aarhus University, chief scientist of the report. [Phys.Org]

• A push to eliminate all Mute Swans in New York State is the subject of fierce and ongoing controversy between conservation scientists and some animal groups. [NY Now]

• Audublog has a great reminder on how you can protect the vulnerable Western Snowy Plover by becoming a beach steward in California. [Audublog]

Tweets of the week:





March 7, 2014

The week in bird news, March 7

Marine reserves map via Marine Conservation Institute. Click image to enlarge.

Secretary of State John Kerry calls for a significant expansion of the world’s marine reserves: “Think of the progress we can make if just 10% of marine areas were protected,” Secy Kerry said in a video address at the World Ocean Summit, sponsored by The Economist in Half Moon Bay, CA. “I think that is a goal we should set for ourselves.”

More via The Guardian:

The initiative was Kerry’s second recent major foray into environmental protection. In a speech in Jakarta earlier this month, the secretary of state ranked climate change as a major global security threat.

“Climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction,” Kerry said at the time.

The remarks were ridiculed by conservatives such as Newt Gingrich and the Republican senator John McCain.

But Kerry, who had a strong record on ocean protection and climate change during his years in the Senate, pushed on, signalling new US willingness to take on a leadership role on ocean protection. [The Guardian]

• With Arctic ice on a continuous decline, scavenging polar bears that usually hunt seals are instead pillaging the eggs of cliff-dwelling seabirds such as Thick-billed Murres. [CBC]

• The top five challenges facing Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, the new administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [National Geographic — the Ocean]snow headshot ear tufts web ready cmyk

• The “sweaters on oiled penguins” meme has hit the internet again. Here’s our 2011 take on the folly of using knit sweaters on penguins to prevent preening of oiled feathers. [International Bird Rescue blog]

• A great feature on the apparent increase in the Snowy Owl population along the Eastern seaboard. [Allegheny Front; photo via Mass Audubon]

• The youth of Long Island are spreading the word on the importance of leaving seabird nesting sites undisturbed. [LongIsland.com]

• Cool or creepy? Hungarian techies have created the first drones that can fly as a coordinated flock. [Nature]

• On the topic of marine preserves, our favorite photo of one: Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, photo by Paul Chesley via National Geographic:


Tweets of the week: 





March 1, 2014

International Bird Rescue launches internship program exclusively for San Pedro and Wilmington communities

At the intersection of commerce, industry and the natural environment, the harbor communities of San Pedro and Wilmington commonly see the effects of human activity on local wildlife.

And thanks to a new grant from the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation, individuals from these communities now have Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 1.35.05 PMthe opportunity to learn how to care for injured and oiled animals through the new Academic Internship Program at International Bird Rescue’s San Pedro center.

Offered exclusively to individuals ages 18 and over from Wilmington and San Pedro, the Academic Internship Program will engage those interested in biology, wildlife preservation or environmental conservation who want to make a difference. Two courses of study and training will be offered: animal care rehabilitation methods and a data analysis project based on clinical research conducted at the center by International Bird Rescue’s veterinary and rehabilitation team.

Students eligible for this internship program include those who have either resided in or attended colleges or universities in the San Pedro/Wilmington area, as well as exceptional high school seniors in the area who are at least 18 years of age at the start of the internship.

Interns will receive a $1,000 total stipend, disbursed in regular increments during the course of their internships.

A world leader in oiled wildlife care, International Bird Rescue has managed and assisted in some of the world’s largest environmental catastrophes, including the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010 and the Exxon Valdez Spill in 1989.

Click here for more information on how to apply for this exciting opportunity.

About International Bird Rescue:

International Bird Rescue (IBR) has been helping seabirds and other aquatic birds around the world since 1971. Our team of specialists operates two year- round aquatic bird rehabilitation centers in California, which care for more than 5,000 birds every year. IBR’s Oil Spill Response Team has led oiled wildlife rescue efforts in more than 200 oil spills in a dozen countries around the world. Find out more at birdrescue.org.

About Harbor Community Benefit Foundation:

Harbor Community Benefit Foundation (HCBF) is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization formed in 2011. Its mission is to assess, protect, and improve the health, quality of life, aesthetics, and physical environment of the harbor communities of San Pedro and Wilmington, California, which have been impacted by the Port of Los Angeles. HCBF accomplishes this through grantmaking, independent research, and community events. For more information, visit hcbf.org.

February 28, 2014

The week in bird news, February 28

Carcasses of Common Murres (guillemots) and other species collected from Jersey beaches in the UK. Photo by Jacqui Carrel via BBC News

• Welsh seabird colonies have been pummeled by fierce storms, with kittiwakes, puffins, guillemots and razorbills among the victims. These storms have been even more devastating to bird colonies than historic oil spills along the British coast. Severe weather has also impacted seabirds in Brittany. [BBC News]

• Across the pond, biologists in Florida are baffled by the deaths of at least a dozen Brown Pelicans in Jacksonville, near an area were more than 70 were found five years ago. Officials 320px-American_oystercatcher_(4228350593)said no signs of foul play were discovered. [Florida Times-Union]

• The brilliant orange-billed American Oystercatcher is making a comeback on the East Coast. [Star News Online; photo via Wikimedia Commons]

• Introducing the “catio,” an outdoor enclosure designed especially for curious felines that also reduces predation of birds, now known to be a pervasive problem causing the deaths of millions of birds every year. [Berkeleyside.com]

• Monster rainstorms in California today are only making a dent in a long-term drought. Meanwhile, rice farmers are doing their part in providing wetlands for migrating birds by keeping their fields flooded, NPR reports. [National Public Radio]

• Hopes abound for four California Condors hatched last year near the Arizona-Utah border. [Associated Press]

• California state energy officials are calling for comprehensive research into bird casualties at solar power plants. [Press-Enterprise]