Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

News

January 27, 2015

Alert: First Release Mystery Goo Birds Scheduled For Wednesday @ 10 AM

SOS-Greater-Scaup-mystery-event-2015-CR

Great news: We’ll be releasing the first birds cleaned of mystery goo near Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito on Wednesday, January 28 @ 10 AM.

Mystery Goo Birds Release Event Information

Bird-Rescue-Relase-location-mystery-2015WHEN: Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015 10:00 AM

WHERE: Fort Baker – 435 Murray Circle, Sausalito, CA 94965

RELEASE: at boat launch

PARKING: Discovery Museum

WHO:  International Bird Rescue personnel will be available for questions/interviews

Media contact: Barbara Callahan, 907.230.2492 or 415.533.1357; Barbara.Callahan@bird-rescue.org

International Bird Rescue will release the first of the birds that came into care covered in mystery goo from the East Bay over the last 10 days. No new birds have been found to have mystery goo on them since Thursday, January 22, 2015.

The birds that have been in care have under gone expert medical stabilization, cleaning and re-waterproofing and are now the first group is well enough to be released back to the wild.

To ensure the birds have an immediate food source, they are being released at Fort Baker where there is a large herring spawn going on and tens of thousands of other seabirds of the same species in the area feeding.

The East Bay is considered clean, however, as no new goo-covered birds have been found since Thursday and there are thousands of seabirds in the East Bay that were not impacted from the goo.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 6.03.24 PMWe appreciate all the outpouring of public support. Your good words, donations and volunteer efforts continue to make the difference!

You can still support us by donating now. We continue to care for hundreds of birds at our San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield, CA.

January 25, 2015

Mystery Goo Response: Over 320 Birds Admitted; Donations Still Needed

Photo of Surf Scoters at International Bird Rescue
Clean birds: Surf Scoters after washing. Photos by Russ Curtis – International Bird Rescue

Dear Supporters,

It has been more than a week now since the first seabirds began arriving at our Northern California center coated in a sticky, unknown substance. We’ve been inundated with a total of 322 birds that were rescued on San Francisco Bay.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 6.03.24 PMWe still need your support to care for these seabirds! Since there is no responsible party for this event, our organization is shouldering the entire cost of this mystery goo event. We estimate the cost of caring for these coated birds is running $9,500 per day.

As of today, the state has still not determined what this substance is. They have ruled out petroleum oil products as the culprit.

Read: No state or federal aid for handling bird-killing goo emergency, San Francisco Chronicle

Pools-IBR-SF-Bay-Center-mystery-2015-eblast

Pools are full of birds at the center in Fairfield, CA.

In the meantime, a dedicated group of volunteers is assisting our staff as we continue to treat and clean these beautiful birds. Updated 8:00 PM: A total of 244 have already been washed and most are recuperating in the dozens of pools at our San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield, CA.

Most of the birds affected are Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Scaups and Common Goldeneyes.

Check out our live BirdCam with some of our seabird patients on the mend.

We want to thank all the volunteers that have given so generously by contributing their time and efforts to help us. They come from organizations all over California and include: 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.

Other organizations have donated money and items to help us, including: The Hofmann Family Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Ian Somerhalder Foundation, Cargill, Clif Bar, Simple Green, and Whole Foods, Napa.

Photo of a Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye shares a pool with Surf Scoters.

We would also like to thank all our supporters who have responded with gratitude and monetary support. The San Francisco Bay’s wildlife holds a special place in their hearts and we are doing our best to honor their trust.

Sincerely,

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

PS – Donations can be made online or by mail to:
International Bird Rescue
Attn: Mystery Goo Response
4369 Cordelia Rd
Fairfield CA 94534

If you prefer to make your gift via phone, please call (510) 289-1472.

Panoramic photo of pool area at International Bird Rescue
Panoramic photo of pools used to house hundreds of seabirds at our SF Bay Center.

January 21, 2015

Lab Test Rules Out PIB – Mystery Goo Bird Rescue Continues

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Horned Grebe covered in mystery goo gets a good washing. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

State lab tests today ruled out polyisobutylene (PIB) as the cause of the mystery goo that is injuring and killing birds in San Francisco Bay.

Since Friday, January 16, International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center has received more than 300 seabirds with gooey feathers caused by an unknown sticky substance. The rubber cement like goop mats the seabirds feathers causing them to lose their insulation and become hyperthermic.

To clean the birds properly, crews are using baking soda and vinegar to loosen the goo, followed by Dawn detergent and warm water to wash out the substance.

Birds rescued are coming primarily from the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay – from Alameda south to Hayward. Several Surf Scoters were found early this week on the west side of the bay in Foster City.

As the search for clues for the exact cause of the goo, International Bird Center continues to care for a growing number of affected birds. The numbers to date include 321 birds admitted with 271 live in care. A total of 135 have been washed.

California Fish and Wildlife officials are reporting another 200 birds have been found dead in the field.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 6.03.24 PMBecause substance’s origin has not been determined, International Bird Rescue is funding this response with the generous support of public donations.

“We estimate that it costs $8,000 each day to pay for the care and washing of these seabirds, ” said Barbara Callahan, interim Executive Director of International Bird Rescue. “And we so appreciate the public’s support of these beautiful birds.”

After washing Buffleheads and Horned Grebe wade in one of the pelagic pools at the San Francisco Bay Center.

After washing Buffleheads and Horned Grebe wade in one of the pelagic pools at the San Francisco Bay Center.

Most of the seabirds affected are diving birds, including Surf Scoters, Buffleheads, Goldeneyes and Horned Grebes. A few shorebirds have also been rescued.

The search continues for stricken seabirds. Today San Francisco Baykeeper, a local conservation group, is helping International Bird Rescue by organizing additional volunteer groups to do more shoreline searches for ailing birds. Learn more

Spot an impacted bird? Report it through our an online form for public reports.

Media reports

Scientists continue to puzzle over sticky goo contaminating birds, KTVU-TV

Mystery deepens: Prime bird death suspect ruled out, SF Chronicle

 

 

 

January 20, 2015

Mystery goo continues to affect seabirds on San Francisco Bay

A Dunlin, a very small shorebird, is washed of a mystery contaminant at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

A Dunlin, a very small shorebird, is washed of a mystery contaminant at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

As crews continue to search the shoreline of San Francisco Bay for goo-fouled seabirds, the number of birds in care continues to climb. At least 262 live birds are now in care Tuesday morning.

The seabirds, including Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Buffleheads, Scaups and smaller shorebirds have been collected along the East Bay shoreline. This includes areas in Alameda, especially around Bay Farm Island Shoreline Park south to San Leandro Marina and around Hayward.

There have been confirmed reports of a handful of listless Scoters spotted in Foster City on the western side of San Francisco Bay.

To assist the collections affected birds, International Bird Rescue set up an online form for public reports of beached birds suspected to be covered in the substance. Members of the public are not advised to collect birds at this time, given the unknown nature of the substance.

Surf Scoter cleaned of goo is recuperating in a pelagic pool at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Surf Scoter cleaned of goo is recuperating in a pelagic pool at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

The total of collected seabirds has reached 380 as of early Tuesday morning. This includes 80 found dead. 300 birds have been transported to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center located in Fairfield, CA. At least 262 are alive and 55 have been washed of the unknown sticky substance as of Monday evening. 38 birds transported to the center have been pronounced dead. At least 75 birds have been washed of the substance.

The birds are coated in sticky, gooey mystery substance that destroys feather waterproofing, which can cause hypothermia and death. A state lab is working to determine what the substance might be.

Since the substance’s origin has not been determined, International Bird Rescue is paying for all emergency seabird treatment costs. We are asking the public for support to save these precious seabirds.

“We’re so thankful for the public’s contributions to help us pay for this unusual response,” said Barbara Callahan, International Bird Rescue’s interim director. “As a small non-profit with limited resources, we depend on donations to fund this very unusual bird rescue event.”
Button donate to save seabirds

Donate online now

Or mail a check to:

International Bird Rescue
Attn: Mystery Goo Response
4369 Cordelia Road
Fairfield CA 94534

On late Friday, January 16, 2015 International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center received a large influx of birds found on both land and water by East Bay Regional Park District staffers. They were covered in a sticky mess of matted feathers.

International Bird Rescue has been saving seabirds and other aquatic birds around the world since 1971. Bird Rescue’s team of specialists operates two year-round aquatic bird rescue centers in California, which care for over 5,000 birds every year, and has led oiled wildlife rescue efforts in over 200 oil spills in more than a dozen countries.

Media reports

S.F. Bay bird rescue: Mystery goo bedevils experts, San Francisco Chronicle

Sticky situation: Mystery goop endangers birds in California, CBS-TV

Mysterious Bird Deaths due to Oily Substance, KRON4-TV

Two Surf Scoters, one female, left, and the other a male, enjoy a special moment after being cleaned of mystery goo at San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Two Surf Scoters, one female, left, and the other a male, enjoy a special moment after being cleaned of mystery goo at San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

January 19, 2015

Update: Mystery substance’s toll on Bay Area seabirds rises sharply

Photo of Horned Grebe being washed
A contaminated Horned Grebe is washed at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center, photos by Cheryl Reynolds

FAIRFIELD, CA (Jan. 19, 2015 – Updated 9:15 pm) — The total number of seabirds reached 242 found on East Bay shores covered in an unidentified sticky substance the International Bird Rescue reported Monday night.

Of the 242 seabirds in care, 55 have been washed of the contaminant. 187 are being stabilized before they can be washed. At least 25 dead birds came to the Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center located in Fairfield.

Button donate to save seabirdsThree search-and-collection teams have found a significant number of seabirds affected by the substance near Bay Farm Island Shoreline Trail in Alameda, in addition to shoreline areas in San Leandro and Hayward.

“Our team anticipates washing between 40 and 60 seabirds on Monday, and we expect many more to be transported to our center,” said International Bird Rescue interim executive director Barbara Callahan.

“The good news is that we have modified our wash protocol and it appears to be working on healthier birds,” Callahan said. “However, some of the birds that have recently arrived are in much poorer condition, likely because they’ve had this substance on their feathers for several days now.”

International Bird Rescue has now set up an online form for public reports of beached birds suspected to be covered in the substance. Members of the public are not advised to collect birds at this time, given the unknown nature of the substance.

julie-margie-washing-seabird-mystery-2015-webOfficials are investigating whether the substance could be polyisobutylene, or PIB, which is sticky, odorless, largely colorless, and killed thousands of seabirds in the U.K. in 2013. “While on its face, this substance seems very similar to reports from the U.K. two years ago, we won’t know definitively until lab tests are completed,” Callahan said.

Surf Scoters, Buffleheads and Horned Grebes continue to be the most commonly affected species.

Because no responsible party for the incident has been identified, International Bird Rescue is currently paying for all costs associated with the event and is seeking the support of the public to care for these birds. Contributions can be made online at birdrescue.org.

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.

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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/

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

8
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.

7
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.

six
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

5
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!

4
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

3
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.

2
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.

1
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

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December 9, 2014

Grebe Tidings to You! (An update on the year-end drive)

YearEndGrebes

Dear Friends,

Good news! Thanks to your support, International Bird Rescue’s year-end online giving campaign is off to a great start. As of today, we’ve raised 61% of our $30,000 goal.

Not only is a year-end gift to International Bird Rescue tax-deductible, but also it supports a growing number of patients coming to our wildlife hospitals as winter arrives.

Among them: 16 Western Grebes currently being treated at our Los Angeles center. This species, shown above, is commonly affected by marine pollution as well as severe storms, which can knock grebes to the ground in urban areas where they cannot regain flight (grebes need a runway of water to become airborne).

All grebes are labor-intensive patients. They’re also wonderful birds that we hope will be common sights along our coasts for generations to come. The Western Grebe’s courtship ritual is the stuff of avian legend!

This season, you can even “adopt” your own grebe, and we’ll send an official adoption certificate to you or to your gift recipient. Please allow up to two business days for an email version to be sent out, and one week for a certificate via standard mail.

December 31 is coming soon! Please make a tax-deductible gift to help us meet our goal for the birds cared for 365 days a year.

Warmest wishes this holiday season,

Barbara Signature

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

December 3, 2014

Thanks to you, our #GivingTuesday was off the charts.

Penguins-Tambako
We’re so thrilled by the support of bird lovers everywhere during #GivingTuesday. Thanks to you, we surpassed our $10K goal.

You can make your year-end gift for birds here.

Photo: Tambako/Flickr CC

November 11, 2014

Plastic ingestion measured in seabird feather oil

Fulmar, Northern IMG_0920-L
Northern Fulmar, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

NOFUWith the rise of global industrialization and a rapidly expanding consumer culture, marine plastic pollution is fast becoming an existential threat to seabirds. Birds that live and feed on the open sea, such as albatrosses and fulmars (above), often mistake floating plastic for prey.

Over time, this ingestion can kill the animal, and in many cases, adult birds will regurgitate plastic when feeding their young. The upcoming documentary Midway (see below) highlights this problem with stark and heartbreaking footage.

Researchers seeking to better understand the extent of the problem have now found that by measuring levels of certain chemical compounds in preening oil, they are able to estimate the level of ingestion in a bird. Previous methods of determining plastic volume in a live bird’s digestive tract have been more invasive, while analyzing the stomach contents of a dead bird depends on a biased sample set (bird carcasses that have washed up on shore, for example).

Preening oil is produced by the uropygial gland at the base of a bird’s tail, and is vital to maintaining waterproofed feathers. Petroleum destroys such waterproofing, which impedes a bird’s ability to regulate body temperature. Scientists at CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship in Australia report that by collecting oil form the gland with a swab, they can measure levels of phthalates — chemical compounds that make plastic more durable and flexible. The amount of phthalates in preening oil correlated with the amount of plastic swallowed by the animals studied.

The research is published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

November 11, 2014

Sharing our rehabilitation expertise with California colleagues

Snowy Egret, Karen Schuenemann
Photo by Karen Schuenemann

CCWR PT lab 2This past weekend, International Bird Rescue veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr and operations manager Julie Skoglund attended the 20th annual California Council for Wildlife Rehabilitators symposium. They co-taught a lecture and workshop for rehabilitators on avian physical therapy with Janelle Freshman, a physical therapist and International Bird Rescue volunteer at our Los Angeles center.

The goal of these presentations was to help rehabilitators return their patients to full athletic functioning after recovery from injury or illness, and to increase positive outcomes from often-debilitating musculoskeletal problems.

Dr. Duerr also presented a lecture on nutrition, critical care and rehabilitation, where she explained nutrition concepts related to the treatment of severely emaciated animals, as wild animals very commonly enter care in extremely poor nutritional condition. As a result, wildlife rehabilitators often struggle to nurse these difficult cases back to health.
Symposiums such as this provide a great opportunity for our staff to share knowledge, learn new things, and visit with old friends and new colleagues!

Conference photo via Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County

November 7, 2014

An unforgettable internship, thanks to the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation

HCBF_Logo with webGood news! International Bird Rescue is thrilled to continue our partnership with the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation (HCBF) to give local students an unforgettable internship experience at our Los Angeles center!

This week, we received our second grant through HCBF’s highly competitive Community Benefit Grant program, designed to mitigate the impact of Port of Los Angeles and Port-related operations in Wilmington and San Pedro. Our Harbor Community Academic Internship Program is a hands-on opportunity to work with wildlife, as intern almuna Leah can tell you in the video above!

Individuals interested in this program must be 16 years of age or older, have community ties to the Los Angeles area and demonstrate an educational and/or career interest in fields such as wildlife biology, conservation, nonprofit work, oil spill response, ornithology and photography/film.

Click here to apply and to read more information on this wonderful internship opportunity. Thanks, HCBF!

HCBF-Internship
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.

November 7, 2014

7th anniversary of the Cosco Busan spill in the San Francisco Bay

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November 5, 2014

A grim tally: Over a half-million birds may have died during Gulf Oil Spill

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Photo by Brian Epstein

With the five-year anniversary of the Gulf Oil Spill approaching, the largest accidental marine spill in history may have killed well over a half-million birds, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Using statistical models based on recovered bird carcasses and seabird density data in the Gulf of Mexico, a team of researchers has estimated that between 600,000 to 800,000 birds died in the near-term aftermath of the spill. Researchers reported that the full range of avian fatalities could be as low as 300,000 and as high as 2 million.

The four species most affected were the Laughing Gull, which suffered nearly a one-third population decline in the Gulf region, followed by the Royal Tern, Northern Gannet and Brown Pelican. Audubon Christmas Bird Count numbers of Laughing Gull populations from 2010 to 2013 appear to track the researchers’ conclusions.

Federal officials had removed the Brown Pelican from the Endangered Species List just months prior to the disaster; these birds suffered double-digit declines in Gulf of Mexico coastal habitat, according to the study.

Mortality Study

BP, the multinational petroleum company operating the offshore rig that exploded in April 2010, has criticized the researchers’ methodology as well as funding for the paper by plaintiff’s attorneys who are pursuing litigation against the oil-and-gas giant (read BP’s public statement here).

International Bird Rescue co-managed oiled wildlife rescue efforts in four states during the Gulf Spill along with our partners at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research.

multinational oil and gas company

Laughing Gull photo by Rachid H/Creative Commons; Royal Tern photo by Alan Vernon/Creative Commons; Northern Gannet photo by Xavier Ceccaldi/Creative Commons; Brown Pelican photo by Cheryl Reynolds.