Every Bird Matters
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News

August 26, 2020

Seabirds in Distress: Penguin Look-alikes Showing Up On Northern California Beaches; 200 Common Murres Have Come Into Care

A surge of seabirds beaching themselves along Northern California is overwhelming International Bird Rescue’s wildlife center. This summer over 200 sick Common Murres have been rescued and come into care. The birds – which resemble penguins but are more closely related to puffins – need a tremendous amount of care and Bird Rescue is asking the public for support.

Dubbed “Bill Murray” for his Groundhog Day reference, this Common Murre, who was treated in 2015, was rescued and came back in care in August 2020. Photo: Isabel Luevano – International Bird Rescue

While seabird strandings are not unheard of, what is most concerning for the Bird Rescue team, is that mass murre beaching events are occurring more often in recent years. Back in 2015, there was a very troubling crisis with more than 460 murres being brought into care. Thus far, the season’s trend seems foreboding – as dozens of distressed murres are being brought into care almost daily this month at its San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center in Fairfield.  

In fact, one of the birds from the 2015 murre crisis was back in care again this summer.  This time, within a few days, he was restored to full strength as a breeding age male, helped to babysit some young birds in our pools, and was released healthy once again to the wild. The staff dubbed this murre “Bill Murray” for his Groundhog Day like return to our center at the same point in the year. 

Since June, adult and younger Common Murres have filled Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

This is the time of year when Common Murres fledge from their offshore breeding sites and typically wait out in the cold turbulent water for their parents to bring them food. However, when they’re starving, cold, or in distress, murres of any age will beach themselves on wide open shorelines. For a murre, sandy beaches are a refuge to rest and warm themselves after prolonged exposure in cold water. 

Young Common Murre vocalizes standing on pool haul out. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

Just as human Californians are flocking to beaches in droves to cool themselves at the ocean’s edge – they are discovering penguin-like, black-and-white pelagic birds waddling and laying on the beach! The majority of the incoming murres seem to be beaching themselves on the Santa Cruz County coastline, but struggling murres have also been spotted at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and as far north as Humboldt County. 

With its long-standing motto “Every Bird Matters”, International Bird Rescue cares for all waterbirds in distress. Their team is endeavoring to save and restore as many of those stranded individual animals to good health as they possibly can. During August, dozens of these birds have been arriving almost daily in need of Bird Rescue’s expertise.

At this time, avian and ocean scientists cannot be certain of the cause of this round of the murres’ struggles.  

What IS certain is that large numbers of live native penguin-lookalike seabirds are in need of help right now. Bird Rescue appeals to the compassion in everyone who values California’s wildlife and complex coastal ecosystems to contribute to the intense care for so many of these struggling seabirds. Murres require a lot of specialized care, including quality fish and deep recovery pools for rehabilitation, which is an expense burden for the non-profit agency.

One other thing that’s pretty heartwarming is that adult murres who are in care at Bird Rescue tend to behave like foster parents to any fledgling murres sharing their recovery pools at the specialized avian facilities at Bird Rescue. Their voices are very endearing as they call out to each other. People can watch adults and young swimming together on the webcam at Bird Rescue.

Support Bird Rescue’s work with a donation.

https://www.bird-rescue.org/get-involved/donate
August 8, 2020

Great Egrets Released with GPS Trackers To Aid in Waterbird Research

 Great Egret released with a special GPS tracker and colored leg band

Before release on July 31, 2020, this orphaned Great Egret arrived in care dehydrated and emaciated. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

The recent release of Great Egrets raised by International Bird Rescue and outfitted with special Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers will aid in the research of this majestic waterbird species.

The GPS backpack was provided and fitted by our friends from Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR) as part of a study of the movements and migrations by Great Egrets. ACR is tracking these birds’ movements to learn more about their interactions with wetland ecosystems to better inform their conservation efforts.

Capturing healthy egrets in the wild is extremely difficult, so ACR Director of Conservation Science, Nils Warnock, reached out to invite Bird Rescue to collaborate. Great Egrets getting released would be outfitted with trackers to help ACR expand its study population. A backpack is fitted onto a strong and healthy Great Egret and monitored for a couple of days prior to release to make sure that it won’t cause any issues for the bird.

Not only does this partnership allow us to aid in important habitat conservation research, it also gives us the opportunity to learn where our patients go and how they behave post-release. So far, two Great Egrets have been released from Bird Rescue with GPS transmitters as part of this study.

You can learn more about the project and see a map of the birds’ movements at https://www.egret.org/heron-egret-telemetry-project

Great Egret flies off with attached GPS that will aid in research. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

July 27, 2020

International Bird Rescue Announces Two New Board Members

International Bird Rescue is excited to announce the election of two new members to its Board of Directors. The newly elected Board members are Elizabeth Kinney and Dave Westerholm.

“I am pleased to welcome our two newest members to the Board of Directors,” said JD Bergeron, Bird Rescue’s Executive Director.  “They both bring a unique background and diverse experiences that make them an asset to the Board and to the organization as a whole.”

Elizabeth Kinney

Elizabeth Kinney leads communications across Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) North America Home Care business, which includes brands such as Dawn, Cascade, Swiffer and Febreze. She has spent the past nine years at P&G, working across the company in a variety of roles, including corporate media, sustainability, Fabric Care communications, and on P&G’s ‘Thank You Mom’ program. She has a Bachelor’s degree from DePauw University in Indiana, and a Masters in Strategic Communications from American University in Washington, D.C. She is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lives with her husband, Doug.

Dave Westerholm photo
Dave Westerholm

Dave Westerholm is currently consulting having recently retired from NOAA where he served over 11 years as a Senior Executive and Director of the Office of Response and Restoration. He led national operational programs in Emergency Response, Marine Debris, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) and Disaster Preparedness. Prior to NOAA, he had 5 years of corporate experience as Senior Operations Director and Vice President with Anteon and General Dynamics, where he managed portfolios in Maritime Security, IT, Policy and Communications. He is a retired Coast Guard Captain with over 27 years of experience in a variety of fields including maritime safety, port security and environmental protection with his last assignment being Coast Guard’s Chief of Response. He also served as Vice Chair of the National Response Team and Chair of several interagency and industry partnerships focused on emergency response and oil and hazardous material spill research. He holds a science degree from Temple University and a Masters from the University of Michigan.

Bird Rescue’s 2020 Board of Directors is:

Officers:

  • Toni Arkoosh Pinsky; Board Chair; Community Leader
  • John Sifling; Vice Chair & Treasurer; Principal, Broad Reach Maritime, U.S. Coast Guard Retired
  • Ron Morris; Secretary & Immediate Past Chair; U.S. Coast Guard Retired

Directors-at-large:

  • Carmine Dulisse; President & CEO, Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC)
  • Elizabeth Kinney; Procter & Gamble NA
  • Dr. Maria Hartley; Chevron; Adjunct Professor, Rice University
  • Dr. Ian Robinson; Retired Veterinarian
  • Beth Slatkin; Director of Marketing and Outreach, Bay Nature
  • Dave Westerholm; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Retired
July 22, 2020

New Scientific Paper Published: Caspian Terns Saved, Rehabilitated, and Released by International Bird Rescue Are Surviving and Breeding!

Bird Rescue is proud to announce the publication of an important scientific paper on a rescue-and-rehabilitation effort that led to a notable success: the post-release survival and breeding of a group of Caspian Terns in Southern California.

The paper was published in 2020 Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences.

The story began in 2006 and 2007 in the Port of Long Beach, one of the busiest shipping ports on the west coast and near a favored breeding colony locale for both Caspian and Elegant Terns in southern California. In both years, disastrous events threatened the lives of tern chicks born in the Port of Long Beach.

In 2006, workers cleaning the deck of a barge deliberately flushed Caspian Tern chicks—too young to survive independently—into the Pacific Ocean. In 2007, suspected human disturbances caused another group of tern chicks to wind up floundering in the water. Fortunately, Bird Rescue was able to rescue some of these young birds and take them into care at its Los Angeles Wildlife Center.

Read: Rare Tern Colony Decimated in Long Beach, CA

The fact that these chicks were able to survive and breed after release is especially noteworthy because terns pose unique challenges for rehabilitators. Adult terns typically nest in colonies and are plunge-divers, which means they raise their young communally and they hunt by hovering over the water in flight, spotting fish below the surface, and then plunging into the water to catch their prey. Becoming effective at feeding in this fashion requires training and practice, so young terns spend many months flying with and being guided and supplementally fed by their parents to master this skill well enough to survive on their own. Unfortunately, this type of learning is pretty much impossible to replicate in captivity. Conservation efforts that work well with other species of birds, such as captive rearing for wild release, are not suitable for terns. And the situation is made more desperate by the fact that critically endangered tern species population numbers continue to drop: tern colonies remain vulnerable to environmental disasters and human disturbances that disrupt breeding for an entire colony, or kill all of its young of the year at once.

Photo of Caspian Terns in care after rescue in 2006 at International Bird Rescue's Los Angeles Wildlife Center

Caspian Terns in care after rescue in July 2006 at Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center. They were later released back to the wild in August. Photo: International Bird Rescue

Bird Rescue pioneered a unique, “natural” method for turning the rescued chicks into capable, self-sufficient adult terns. The fact that some of the rescued chicks have been seen as adults, alive and in breeding colonies years later, is a strong sign of the effort’s success. With Bird Rescue’s care and help, these chicks overcame their traumatic early life. These very young birds learned to fend for themselves and survive, and were able to breed successfully as adults. This validates the care regimen at Bird Rescue and gives us hope for future populations.

As rehabilitators, we feel proud knowing that our extensive rehabilitation efforts were a success. We also want to acknowledge the expert collaborative help we received from ornithologist Dr. Charlie Collins, Professor Emeritus at California State University of Long Beach.

To understand how we solved the challenges of rehabilitating these terns, please read Survival and Recruitment of Rehabilitated Caspian Terns in Southern California.

The final paper was published in the 2020 Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences.

July 1, 2020

Stuck In The Mud, Struggling Brown Pelican Saved By Community Rescuers

A rescue team from Alameda Fire Department, guided by a concerned citizen, capture a Brown Pelican tethered to discarded fishing tackle and stuck in the mudflats. Photos: Cindy Margulis – International Bird Rescue

A Brown Pelican in Alameda, CA that was stuck in the mud and tethered to discarded fishing tackle is alive today and in care at International Bird Rescue after a heartwarming community rescue effort.

On June 23th a newly retired Lincoln Middle School teacher, Sharmaine Moody, noticed a Brown Pelican that appeared to be stuck in the offshore mudflat between the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary and the Bay Farm Bridge during low tide. As it struggled to get airborne, other pelicans became alarmed and kept circling in the air over the young bird. Eventually the other pelicans left to forage elsewhere, but Sharmaine kept returning to monitor the stranded pelican at different tidal conditions to try to ensure there would be a chance for a boat rescue to work in a higher tide.

After rescue, the Brown Pelican was transferred to a large transport carrier and driven to Bird Rescue’s wildlife center in Fairfield.

A call was made to the Alameda Fire Department for help rescuing this pelican in peril. When Battalion Chief David Buckley was confident there was sufficient fire coverage in town on June 24th, he deployed Alameda’s Rescue Boat 01 crew, manned by firefighters Ty, Roland, & Nick. As soon as their Zodiac approached the pelican, they realized how stranded this poor bird was. When they tried to lift the pelican with a net, they felt the tug of the entanglement beneath it, preventing them from getting the bird out of the water. An assortment of fishing gear, including wads of monofilament line, had to be cut off before they were able to bring the pelican up into the rescue craft. Back at the boat launch, even more fishing gear had to be cut away to get the pelican out of the net.

In care at our center in Fairfield: Brown Pelican following rescue.

With the help of Sharmaine Moody and former Bird Rescue volunteer, Linda Vallee, the injured pelican was quickly transported to our San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center in Fairfield for emergency veterinary care. The young Brown Pelican is currently in serious but stable condition. It suffered severe constriction wounds to its leg and damage to its wings from the fishing line entanglement that will require many weeks in care to heal.

Special thanks are due to the Alameda Fire Department for their rescue heroics last week, as well as to Sharmaine Moody and Linda Vallee for keeping track of the pelican’s predicament until a rescue could be arranged. It truly takes a community to protect our natural world and the wildlife we share it with.

This case is not only a strong reminder of the needless suffering and bodily harm that stray fishing gear and monofilament fishing line can cause for wildlife, but also the positive impact individuals can have when they take action on behalf of animals in need.

Preventing Needless Suffering Starts Here

The Reel In and Recycle program is a good step towards encouraging recycling fishing line.

There are simple actions everyone can take to help prevent needless suffering for wildlife, including birds and marine mammals, and also reduce entrapment risks for swimmers in local shorelines, too. We encourage all fishermen to remove all their gear from the water and shoreline.

If you come across any discarded fishing line, make sure that it gets deposited into a proper receptacle. Alameda, and many other fishing locations throughout California have specialized bins for recycling monofilament, which are part of the national Reel In & Recycle Program.  When specialty receptacles aren’t available, you can cut the monofilament into small pieces and dispose of it in a lidded trash container. If you would like your local park or pier to implement a fishing line recycling program, contact your harbormaster or local parks department.

In recent years other bird species in nearby waters have been adversely affected by cast off fishing gear. Four Ospreys in the Alameda area have been entangled in fishing line and gear, including one confirmed to have died from its injuries.  Just last month, another local Osprey female at Alameda Point had to be trapped on her nest in order to remove an entanglement.

June 25, 2020

Wildlife Veterinary Internship Pilot Underway – Funding Sought for Future Rounds

Veterinarian intern, Dr. Casey Martinez, working in surgery at the San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center.

In June, Bird Rescue welcomed Dr. Casey Martinez, recent graduate from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis, as the first participant in our professional wildlife veterinary internship program. Traditional veterinary programs offer very little guidance and training on working with wildlife and Bird Rescue aims to fill this gap. This innovative program is designed to provide advanced veterinary exposure to aquatic, wild bird care for new veterinary graduates as they embark on their veterinary careers.

Within weeks of graduating with her veterinary degree, Dr. Martinez started work at our Northern California Wildlife Center. She has settled into a productive and engaging routine working with our Director of Research and Veterinary Science, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, our clinic staff, and our pandemic-limited cadre of experienced volunteers. The veterinary internship focuses on medicine and surgery, physical examination to learn what is normal and abnormal for each species and their typical presentations, the distinctive husbandry needs of each species, necropsy with investigation into causes of death while learning species variation in anatomy, and exploring the scientific literature on the species typically cared for at Bird Rescue.

In addition to this spectrum of training, Dr. Martinez will also be managing data collection for a research project evaluating whether the use of sedatives in birds when they are washed is of benefit to their survival through care, a study we are conducting at both California centers in collaboration with Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, our counterpart on the East Coast.

We are thrilled to have Dr. Casey Martinez on our team for this yearlong program and to be able to share with her the wealth of highly-specialized aquatic bird rehabilitation knowledge that Bird Rescue has gained through its nearly 50-year history. Aquatic wild bird care is a continuously evolving field, so this unique in-depth experience will benefit Dr. Martinez, Bird Rescue, as well as the wider wildlife rehabilitation community where Dr. Martinez hopes to practice for her career.

Our hope is that Bird Rescue’s year-long professional veterinary internship opportunity can be offered to more vet school graduates in coming years. We are actively seeking additional funding to transform this pilot initiative into an ongoing program. Ideally, we would love to host two professional veterinary internships each year, concurrently, at each of our California centers. If you would be interested in sponsoring this program, please contact Director of Philanthropy, Cindy Margulis, at cindy.margulis@birdrescue.org.

June 19, 2020

On Standby: Major Diesel Spill In Siberia

Site of the Norilsk Nickel power plant fuel leak. See larger map

Nearly 50 years ago, International Bird Rescue was created to respond to oil spills. Our supporters have come to expect that when there is a sizable spill, we will be there to offer our expertise in crisis management and aquatic bird care. Unfortunately, that is not always possible and it is difficult for us to stand on the sidelines when wildlife is in danger.

On June 4, 2020, a massive fuel spill occurred in a remote area of Russia, as a diesel oil storage tank collapsed at the Norilsk Nickel power plant sending diesel into a river. It is believed that a prolonged heat wave melted permafrost beneath the storage tank’s footings. At least 21,000 metric tons of diesel fuel has stained the Ambanaya watershed in the Siberian Arctic ecosystem.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a State of Emergency as that area is part of a watershed linked to the Arctic Ocean, but he has not thus far reached out for international support. See map

Emergency response of this scale is only possible with the invitation and cooperation of the government and a responsible party being willing to cover the costs.

Further, human safety is of utmost importance, and the needed resources to stand up a full-scale wildlife response can be next to impossible in a very remote location like this one.

While we have been in touch with our international partners, none has yet been asked to participate. This group includes leading experts trying to solve the challenges of oiled wildlife outside of currently covered geographies. Russia’s far north is a perfect example of an uncovered geography which the group was created to cover. At this point, reports suggest that workers are focused on containing and removing the fuel in a very remote area with few roads – more than 1200 miles NE of Moscow. We will remain on standby in case we are needed.

The kind of fuel that was spilled – diesel – is lighter and less easily corralled than heavier forms like crude oil (as was the case in the Deepwater Horizon Spill in 2010). Making things worse, diesel evaporates more slowly at cooler temperatures. This means both that initial harm to nearby wildlife would have been severe and, as with any petroleum product, animal welfare would continue to be a concern.

Going forward we continue to strive to work collaboratively on preparedness and planning along with petroleum companies, government entities, and other NGO partners to ensure wildlife emergency response efforts can save animals in harm’s way.

June 12, 2020

49 Bird-inspired Recipes To Sweeten Stay At Home Days

Do you love birds and want to support their care? Love to bake, too? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve got a whole volume of bird-inspired recipes to help sweeten these social distancing months for you and your loved ones!

Become a Bird Rescue Member now at the $49 level and we will send you a digital version of our “Sweet Tweets: 49 recipes for 49 years”. Your membership fee supports our work year-round saving water birds. And with the cookbook, you can bake up scrumptious treats to celebrate our 49th Anniversary with us, no matter where you are.

You’ll find recipes for how to make a flock of delicious goodies: from Pied-billed Grebe Apple Pie to Surf Scoter Scones to Sand Hill Crane Sugar Cookies. Order now

The recipe book was created by the Bird Boosters – a dedicated group of volunteers bonded by their love and admiration for International Bird Rescue. The boosters work collaboratively on special projects that help raise funds and highlight the great accomplishments of this 49-year-old organization.

May 6, 2020

In The Time Of COVID-19: Alaska Oil Spill Response

Aerial photo of the Valdez Marine Terminal, Alaska. You can see the oil sheen and boom deployment in Prince William Sound. Photo credit: Alyeska Pipeline

Sunday, April 12th was just like any other “normal” day adjusting to our new “normal” of “flattening the curve” during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the preceding weeks, states on the west coast of the United States had instituted #StayHome policies to slow the transmission of the deadly novel virus spreading across the globe since late 2019.

On that evening at 6:15 pm, International Bird Rescue received a call from our long-time client, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, alerting us to a small oil spill incident in Valdez, Alaska. Immediately, Alyeska activated Barbara Callahan, Bird Rescue’s Response Director, to provide expertise in this developing situation.

Callahan learned that the incident involved a small leak from a sump pump at the Valdez Marine Terminal – on land approximately 650 feet from the shore of Prince William Sound. The mere mention of a spill in this area, immediately brings up terrifying thoughts in the waters made famous by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster. And while the amount of this oiling was small, the oil seeped into the topsoil and leached into the harbor, where it created a large area of sheen. Worse, the area where the sheen was contained within boom sets was adjacent to a pier where one of the largest and most successful breeding populations of Black-legged Kittiwakes nest annually. There was also concern for the myriad of other fish, seabirds, waterfowl, and marine mammals that were making their annual return to the area for feeding and breeding. To add to the worry, the spill site was very close to a commercial salmon fishery where fry (small juvenile salmon) were scheduled for release within two weeks of this oil spill. There were significant concerns that the resulting sudden influx of prey species to the area would bring in additional animals foraging.

If this event had happened without the existence of a pandemic, the response tactics would be clear: Bird Rescue would deploy one or two field teams to Valdez to capture and stabilize any oil-affected birds. In addition, there would be a team assigned to activate the Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC) in Anchorage. This turn-key standby center is always prepared to offer full rehabilitation of oiled wildlife.

Because of COVID-19 travel and quarantine restrictions, personnel from outside of Valdez were required to go through a 14-day quarantine within the state. In order to quickly initiate wildlife operations in Valdez, Alyeska activated several “Vessels of Opportunity” (“VOO’s”) who are kept on contract and who are pre-trained annually by Alyeska and Bird Rescue to be wildlife observers and capture crews. In addition, a small team of marine mammal experts were brought in from Anchorage and a local veterinarian were enlisted to perform wildlife stabilization.

Two Bird Rescue team members, Julie Skoglund and Liz Montenegro, were deployed to Anchorage to prepare the AWRC, and arrived on April 20th. As with every other part of this response, even this fairly direct deployment required an intensive contact history and a three-day quarantine without leaving their hotel rooms before the team was able to get to work at the AWRC. Once released from their quarantine, they quickly got to work and not only prepared for potential patients, but also performed a deep-clean on the center’s upstairs storage area, creating new storage space and cleaning out out-of-date or unnecessary equipment and supplies.

We are relieved to report that only three animals were oiled during this event, two were deceased prior to collection and one bird was euthanized. While we are never happy to see any oiled animals, this event had the potential to impact thousands more animals, and we breathed a sigh of relief as the spill area became smaller and smaller each day, and the oiled shoreline has been gradually restored. While spill cleanup operations will continue until the environment is restored, as of May 5, our Anchorage team has been demobilized and returned to their homes to self-quarantine for 14 days. Response Director Barbara Callahan and Bird Rescue will continue to be a part of the Spill Response management team providing our best advice and recommendations until cleanup operations are complete.

April 19, 2020

$49 for 49 more years!

It’s time to Raise the Rookery and help celebrate International Bird Rescue’s 49th year.

Baby bird season is already in full swing and you can help! For every $49 donation, we will honor you with an egret perched in our symbolic rookery tree. Your first name and last initial will be noted on your bird(s), or you may pick a different tribute name.

We could not do this work without YOU. You rescue birds right along with us and we thank you so very deeply. Your gift directly funds food, medication, and expert daily care for a bird in our wildlife centers.

Please Give 49. Your $49 donation includes a Bird Rescue membership for 2020.

Read more: History of International Bird Rescue

 

 

April 13, 2020

Release Files: Laysan Albatross Returns To The Wild

Laysan Albatross gets the first taste of freedom as a Black-footed Albatross waits. Photos by Don Baccus

The wayward Laysan Albatross that was found grounded in a meadow in Soquel, CA, is back in the wild after being released back to Monterey Bay. Thanks to the SPCA for Monterey County for doing the original rescue back in late March after local birders alerted the animal rescue group. After being transferred to International Bird Rescue, the albatross made an excellent recovery after two weeks in care.

Executive Director JD Bergeron transported the bird from our wildlife center in Fairfield to the Moss Landing Harbor. Big thanks to Fast Raft who donated their services to help transport the bird 10 miles off the coast. Bird lover and friend of Bird Rescue Jan Loomis was also helpful in arranging the trip. This trip out into the open ocean was a rare moment during the current pandemic and the small group involved were blessed with views of many seabirds, a few humpback whales, and a pod of orcas.

When the boat finally reached its destination, a nutrient-rich part of Monterey Bay, the boat was greeted by a Black-footed Albatross during the release of the former patient and was soon joined by a dozen more Black-footed Albatrosses, which also nest on Midway Atoll. It was a magic moment in nature after many weeks cooped up during the restrictions.

The bird’s release was dedicated to the late Shirley Doell who was one of the count leaders during the annual nesting albatross count on Midway Atoll. Bergeron met Doell several years ago when he volunteered to help count 600,000 nests on these northern Pacific Ocean islands.

With their tremendous 6½ foot wingspan, Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) can take advantage of prevailing winds to glide long distances – sometimes 300-400+ miles in one day. They breed on tiny islands in the North Pacific Ocean – especially Midway Atoll – about 3,000 miles from California.

The oldest known banded wild bird in the world is a Laysan Albatross named Wisdom. At 69 years old, Wisdom returns most years to Midway to renew her nest and hatch a chick – as she did again in December of 2018 but took a year off in 2019. To date she is believed to have hatched more than 40 chicks over the course of her life.

In the past, Laysan Albatrosses notably have been found as stowaways on container ships that travel the ocean highways. They have often been spotted resting or even building nests aboard these vessels. In recent years, we’ve also seen them picked up after crash landing in the Southern California desert. Read more

Bird Rescue relies on the generous support of the public to care for wildlife, including wayward birds blown off course, those injured in cruelty incidents, as well as those harmed by fishing gear and other human-caused injuries. Please donate

Near the release site, agroup of Black-footed-Albatrosses. Photo by Janette Loomis

March 31, 2020

Ordering Through Amazon? Use Our Smile Link

We always encourage folks to shop local when they can, but for many of you during the COVID-19 pandemic, online ordering has been one of the safest ways to shop. So if you’re ordering through Amazon can we ask you a favor? Use the AmazonSmile program link and the retailer will donate a portion of your purchases to us.

Through the Smile program Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to International Bird Rescue, These are the same products and services as offered by Amazon.com.

You can also you check out our Amazon.com Wish Lists, which feature a wide variety of products we depend upon every day. You can choose from our Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay center Wish Lists.

Thank you again for helping us make sure Every Bird Matters!

March 17, 2020

Keep Looking Up

Brown Pelican in flight after release in Southern California by International Bird Rescue

Brown Pelican in flight after release in Southern California. Photo by Angie Trumbo – International Bird Rescue

Dear Bird Rescue Supporters,

First of all, please accept my wishes for continued good health and wellness for you and your families. We’re all in this together, and together we will endure and eventually thrive.

The health and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and the community are always our top priority. As in an oil spill response, human safety must be secured first, then we can focus on our patients. We are treating the current situation with all the care of our usual emergency response work.

Western Grebe chick snuggles in a feather duster in our wildlife hospital. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

We’ve taken steps to protect our staff inside our two California wildlife centers. Over the weekend, we began changes to our operations to minimize human interactions while maintaining high-quality care for the birds in our centers. At that time, we temporarily suspended our in-house volunteer programs and encouraged all administrative staff to work from home for all but critical banking and similar tasks. All business travel has been cancelled.

Yesterday, six San Francisco Bay Area counties (and the City of Berkeley) issued shelter in place ordinances. Importantly, veterinary hospitals are considered essential and are therefore exempted from mandatory closures. Because of this and the 70+ waterbirds currently in our care, we remain open daily to treat sick, injured, and orphaned waterbirds. As of now, the following changes are in place:

• Injured wildlife may be transported to us for treatment, but drop-off procedures have changed. Rescuers are discouraged from entering the facility; instead, a staff member will greet rescuers to receive the bird. If you’ve found a bird, please review this page.

• We are postponing or cancelling all upcoming public events through April 15th, and will continually reassess the situation for events planned after that date.

• We are exploring the option of providing educational webinars and live-video feeds to engage you and your families in the next few weeks. Please watch our social media (linked below) for updates and schedules.

While it may be easy to feel overwhelmed in these challenging times, we continue to work with injured and orphaned birds, one day at a time and one bird at a time, and we continue to release birds back into the wild as they become well enough. Every release matters.

No matter what our flock is facing, a common thread unites us: a deep love of birds and an appreciation for the natural world. At times like this, birds can give us a reason to keep looking up.

As we navigate this crisis together, we will continue to share updates and stories that heal, #lookup.

• Follow us via our website & blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email, so stay tuned. (Sign up for email updates here)

• You can watch our two live BirdCams to see what’s up at our two wildlife centers.

Thanks to support from people like you, Bird Rescue treats thousands of water birds in crisis each year. Like everyone, we are being hit hard financially by this pandemic, which means your support is essential, now more than ever. Where possible, we encourage you to maintain your annual giving, become a monthly recurring donor, or make a pledge that can be fulfilled by year-end. Together, we can inspire others to act towards balance with the natural world.

Stay safe and keep looking up,

 

 

 

 

JD Bergeron
Executive Director
International Bird Rescue

 

March 6, 2020

Meet Ralph: A Bird with Peculiarities

“Ralph” earned his name for this Northern Fulmar’s propensity to vomit as self defense. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

We’re seeing a lot of fulmars in care lately (more about this below). These pelagic birds (often confused with gulls) have some, well, peculiarities—chief among them being their “special” reaction to anything they perceive as a threat, which, unfortunately, includes humans who attempt to help them. How exactly do they protect themselves? By projectile-vomiting a stinky orange liquid straight at the perceived enemy. Watch this semi-gross video!

That brings us to one particular fulmar we’ve recently taken into care. He started off being identified by his temporary leg band, Yellow-119. But he’s become popular with our followers, who have suggested different names for him based on his spewing abilities. He’s now been dubbed “Ralph”—a name we get a chuckle out of, and one that’s a lot better than some of the other terms for vomiting that have been offered!

Hungry Fulmars need to eat. Won’t you help? Donate here

Ralph is a “light morph” Northern Fulmar that came into care in late February after he beached himself in Monterey. Staff and volunteers have watched as he’s gained some weight (despite barfing and thereby losing some grams along the way!), stabilized, and begun eating well. And staff and volunteers have also learned not to take it personally when Ralph spews orange-colored stinky stuff (disgusting orange Kool-Aid?) their way.

Another “peculiarity” of fulmars is their beak, which is a bit different – some followers have asked whether Ralph’s beak is broken. Rest assured, it is not broken. Fulmars are members of the tubenose family, which have evolved a special gland to remove the excess salt that builds up from all their ocean-going feeding frenzies. That odd-looking part of the beak is where salt is secreted.

Ralph is one of more than 30 Northern Fulmars that have come into care at our two California wildlife hospitals since the start of this year. All of them have arrived hungry, anemic, and underweight, and most have had trouble thermoregulating. The critical hospital care we provide involves thermal support to warm them, fluid therapy, and tube feedings until they are well enough to eat on their own. According to our friends at beach-watch organizations, they’re finding increasingly more dead fulmars on area beaches, the reason for which is not yet known. Read more

Your donations enable us to continue saving birds’ lives. We are ever grateful to those of you who help us feed and provide needed care for seabirds so that they can be returned to their natural lives.

Northern Fulmar “Ralph” enjoys some outdoor pool time at the San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. He’s gaining weight and hopefully limiting his barfing.

 

February 21, 2020

Patients of the Week: Northern Fulmars

A white morph Northern Fulmar. In the outdoor pools, these seabirds need to be monitored carefully as they are quite cantankerous and prone to squabbling. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

Every few years we receive quite a few of one of our favorite species all at once, namely Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis). These oceanic birds are small relatives of albatrosses, and are adored by many wildlife rehabilitators for their beautiful faces and intense musky smell that no two of us will describe the same.

Some of the 23 Northern Fulmars that have come into Bird Rescue’s two California wildlife centers.

Since January 2020, we have received 23 fulmars – 19 in Northern California and 4 in Southern California. All have been anemic, underweight, and most have had trouble thermoregulating. Critical care for them involves thermal support to help them stay warm, fluid therapy, and tube feedings until they feel like eating again. Help feed a fulmar

Currently, three birds are showing signs of a disease we have seen before, where the birds have often-severe anemia, hemorrhages and inflamed blood vessels in their feet, and are at risk of dying from secondary infections. In 2012, during our last large influx of fulmars, we were able to contribute to the discovery of a novel fulmar virus that may be responsible, as the closest relative virus causes similar symptoms in chickens. Much remains to be discovered about the disease challenges of wild seabirds! Read the paper here

Once they are able to stay outside in our pools, they can be quite cantankerous and prone to squabbling; hence, we often have to monitor them carefully to make sure individual birds are getting along. Despite fulmars stranding in horrible nutritional shape, once they start eating, they often gain an enormous amount of weight. Three birds have already recovered and been released as plump, vigorous birds back into the ocean.

Dark morph Northern Fulmar. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue