Every Bird Matters
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September 2, 2015

Seabirds Are Overwhelming International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Center

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More than 150 stranded Common Murres have come in for care at IBR’s San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center has been hit by an uncommon wave of Common Murres—more than 150 of them in August. The majority of these seabirds are young, malnourished chicks, exhausted and unable to maintain their body temperature.

Murre-Adopt-ButtonTo help in the quest to save the lives of these numerous vulnerable and needy seabird patients, IBR is asking for support from the bird-appreciating public.

“This is an unusually large post-breeding event and is severely straining our bird center resources,” said Michelle Bellizzi, manager of IBR’s San Francisco Bay Center. “We hope the public will help by donating to care for these birds.”

At our already busy center, the murre patients are taking over — especially in the outdoor pelagic pools. The number of murres this year is exceptional – especially since IBR rarely sees more than 10 of these bird species in one month during the summer. Check out the live BirdCam

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Hatchling year Common Murres are among the most seabird patients in care.

To most people, the Common Murre (Uria aalge) looks very much like a small penguin; in fact, the public often reports seeing “little penguins” stranded on the Bay area beaches when, in fact, they’re seeing murres. In contrast to Penguins, which are flightless and live in southern oceans, Common Murres are diving seabirds that can fly, and that breed and feed widely along the Pacific Coast from central California to Alaska.

Except when nesting, which they do on rocky cliffs, murres spend their lives in and on the water and are nothing less than super-divers—essentially “flying” through water by using their wings to propel themselves and diving in excess of 200 feet below the surface to forage.

As for what’s at the root of this huge influx of ailing Common Murres, no one knows for sure. Some scientists surmise that as waters warm along the California coast, diving birds starve as fish go deeper to reach cooler waters, putting themselves out of the birds’ reach. This summer Northern California coastal waters have seen an increase of 5 to 10 degrees above historical averages.

Whatever the issue, what’s happening to these seabirds is important, since Common Murres have served as a key indicator species for ocean conservation for many years, and their numbers have been trending downwards with documented changes in fish stocks, chronic oil spills, and interactions with humans.

Even in the best of times, IBR relies on public support to treat and feed ill and injured seabirds each year—more than 5,000 patients are cared for annually at IBR’s two California centers.

Right now, Common Murres needing life-saving care are proving extra-challenging and are truly testing IBR’s resources. Donations are greatly needed and greatly appreciated. And for those who wish to donate in the form of a symbolic “adoption” of a murre, they can do so at http://bird-rescue.org/adopt-murre

 

June 27, 2015

The Release Files: Clean Western Grebe from Refugio Oil Spill

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The Western Grebe was released by Kelly Berry of IBR at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, CA. Photos by Jo Joseph

The Western Grebe was released by Kelly Berry of IBR at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, CA. Photos by Jo Joseph

On Friday our team in Southern California released a rehabilitated Western Grebe from the Refugio Oil Spill. This is the first non-Pelican affected by the spill to be released.

The heavily oiled Grebe was collected on May 22, 2015 from the drainage ditch east of of Venadito Creek in Santa Barbara County.

After being washed and recovering from various secondary injuries at our Los Angeles Center, it was released late this week at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.

More than 50 oiled seabirds – mainly Brown Pelicans – have come to the center rescued in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The birds were oiled at May 19th Refugio oil pipeline break that spilled more than 100,000 gallons of crude.

6-24-Refugio_Data_By_Species_For_WebsiteAs a member of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) the center near the Los Angeles Harbor has been ground zero for this oiled seabird response. International Bird Rescue staff and volunteers, along with other OWCN members, have worked tirelessly to help care for the effected birds.

A total of 252 seabirds have been collected. 57 live oiled birds and 195 birds were found dead. Complete list: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/owcn/

June 13, 2015

First Brown Pelicans Released At Goleta Beach Following Refugio Oil Spill

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Dear Bird Rescue Supporter,

There’s nothing quite like a bird release to stir your soul.

Photo of released Brown Pelicans Goleta, CA

Brown Pelicans released at Goleta Beach head back to the wild. Photo by Valerie Kushnerov, City of Goleta

On Friday we happily helped release the first 10 clean, rehabilitated Pelicans back to the wild at Goleta Beach. All of these majestic seabirds were oiled in the May 19th Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara.

Satellite tracking device between the Pelican's wings.  Photo: Justin Cox, UC Davis

Satellite tracking device between the Pelican’s wings. Photo: Justin Cox, UC Davis

The awe inspiring sight of these Brown Pelicans returning home gave us all renewed hope that humans can and will work to help heal oiled wildlife. More than 50 oiled birds have come to the San Pedro center – mainly Pelicans rescued in the Pacific Ocean from Refugio south to Ventura County.

As a proud member of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) the center near the Los Angeles Harbor was at ground zero for this oiled seabird response. International Bird Rescue staff and volunteers, along with other OWCN members, worked tirelessly to help care for the effected birds.

As part of the research aspect of the spill response, five Pelicans were outfitted with solar-powered satellite tracking devices. This will help OWCN scientists track and study the rescued birds.

As always, we appreciate all the kind words and notes of encouragement for our role in helping to make sure “Every Bird Matters”.

Sincerely,

Barbara Signature

 

 

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director
International Bird Rescue

Photo of special green Z banded released Brown Pelican from Refugio Oil Spill

P.S. – If you spot a banded Brown Pelican with a special “Z” leg numbered band, please report it to the OWCN tip line: 1-877-UCD-OWCN.

 

June 2, 2015

Ray of Hope In A Sea Of Dread: Washed, Clean Brown Pelicans in Outdoor Aviary

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After being cleaned of oil, Brown Pelicans recuperate in an outside aviary at our San Pedro, CA center. Photos by Kylie Clatterbuck

Two weeks after oiled seabirds from the Refugio Oil Incident began arriving into our San Pedro Center, many have been washed and are now recuperating in two large outside bird aviaries.

Most of the birds in care are California Brown Pelicans. These are majestic birds with a height of more than 4 feet, weighing upwards of 11 pounds (5000 g) and with a wingspan 6+ feet.

At least 40 Brown Pelicans are in care and upwards of 36 have been washed of the oil that coated their wings after a pipeline burst at Refugio State Beach on May 19th.

Other bird species in care include Western Gulls, Western Grebes, Common Murres, a Surf Scoter, and a Pacific Loon.

As of Wednesday night, June 3, search and collection teams have rescued 58 live birds and 42 live marine mammals. Dead animals collected included 115 seabirds and 58 mammals.

Oil has severe and delirious effect on a bird’s feathers. It mats feathers & separates the tiny barbs impairing waterproofing, exposing birds to temperature extremes. In this emergency situation, the bird will focus on preening (cleaning feathers) – overriding all other natural behaviors, including evading predators and feeding, making the bird vulnerable to secondary health problems such as severe weight loss, anemia and dehydration. See: How Oil Affects Birds

A 24-inch underground pipeline burst about 20 miles NW of Santa Barbara. At least 100,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the broken pipe, including an estimated 21,000 gallons that washed into a storm drain and flowed out to the Pacific Ocean.

As a member of California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network our wildlife responders were activated to help with search and collection and treatment and washing of affected seabirds. Our center in San Pedro near the Los Angeles Harbor is fully staffed with multiple washing stations and two aviaries – one that is large flight aviary.

Animal numbers are updated each day and available on the OWCN blog: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/owcn/

May 27, 2015

Number of Oiled Seabirds Continues To Rise from Refugio Oil Pipeline Rupture

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Using a toothbrush, IBR staff and volunteers clean an oiled California Brown Pelican at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in San Pedro, CA. Photo by Bill Steinkamp – International Bird Rescue

Photo oiled Peilcan at International Bird Rescue

Wildlife responders from International Bird Rescue clean oiled Brown Pelican. Photo: Joseph Proudman – UC Davis

As the numbers of oiled animals affected by the Refugio Oil Incident continues to climb, our Los Angeles Center is ground zero for treating oil coated seabirds. At least 20 seabirds are now in care at the center in San Pedro, CA

International Bird Rescue (IBR) also has teams in the field assisting the search and collection of oiled wildlife in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

“The birds that we’ve seen so far have come in completely coated with oil,”  Dr. Christine Fiorello, an Oiled Wildlife Care Network veterinarian told the media at a press conference last week. “They can’t move. They can’t forage. They can’t fly. They can’t dive. So yeah, they would die pretty rapidly if they were not cleaned.”

Most of the birds captured on beaches are Brown Pelicans – large seabirds that have the strength and fortitude to survive the thick gooey crude. Many smaller seabirds may have perished in the thick gunk.

Serverly oiled Brown Pelican brought to San Pedro Center. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck – International Bird Rescue

Serverly oiled Brown Pelican brought to San Pedro Center. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck – International Bird Rescue

A week ago Tuesday morning May 19, a 24-inch underground pipeline burst near Refugio State Beach about 20 miles NW of Santa Barbara. About 100,000 gallons of crude oil, specifically Las Flores Canyon OCS (Outer Continental Shelf), spilled into a culvert that led to the Pacific Ocean.

As a member of California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network we are providing the best possible care to impacted wildlife. IBR has over 44 years of experience working on oil spill all over the world. See our history

As of Wednesday evening May 27th, a total of 57 seabirds have been collected – 39 alive and 18 dead. There have been 32 total mammals collected with 22 rescued alive and 10 found dead.

Washing oiled Pelican at San Pedro Center. IBR photo

Washing oiled Pelicans at San Pedro Center. IBR photo

The affected birds are being taken to Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network and stabilized before being transported for further care and washing at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center.

All oiled mammals including elephant seals and sea lions are being treated and washed at SeaWorld in San Diego location. SeaWorld is also a member of the OWCN.

Animal numbers are updated each day and available on the OWCN blog: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/owcn/

Please don’t pickup or try to clean oiled seabirds. The oil is toxic to you and the stress of trying to clean wildlife without proper stabilization and care may do more harm than good. We ask the public to call 1-877-UCD-OWCN to report oiled wildlife.

Note to volunteers: Please don’t contact our very busy San Pedro clinic during this response. Our staff, OWCN members and our trained volunteers are handling the care of these oiled seabirds. 

You can still help in other ways: Please visit the CalSpillWatch website to register as volunteer for other needs on this spill response.

Photo of Oiled Brown Pelicans at International Bird Rescue - OWCN in San Pedro, CA

Most of the oiled seabirds rescued were California Brown Pelicans. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck – International Bird Rescue

Photo cleaned Brown Pelicans at International Bird Rescue

After cleaning Brown Pelicans rescued at the Refugio Oil Spill in Santa Barbara County. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck – International Bird Rescue

May 21, 2015

Working To Save Seabirds Affected by Santa Barbara Oil Spill

Photo Tuesday, May 19, 2015 of what looks to an oiled Red-throated Loon. Photo courtesy of Lara Cooper/Noozhawk.com

Oil spill victim: A Red-throated Loon was one of the first birds photographed on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 showing the severity of the Refugio oil incident. Photo courtesy of Lara Cooper/Noozhawk.com

Photo of captured Oiled Brown Pelican

Oiled Brown Pelican was one of the seabirds captured this week. OSPR photo

The International Bird Rescue (IBR) has teams on the ground helping with the search and collection of oiled wildlife at the Refugio Incident oil spill in Santa Barbara County. Our center in San Pedro, CA has been mobilized to treat any oiled seabirds.

As a member of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) we are providing the best possible care to impacted wildlife. IBR has over 44 years of experience working on oil spill all over the world. See our history

As of Wednesday night, 5 Brown Pelicans are have been rescued. These numbers are being reported by the California Office of Spill Response (OSPR). California state officials have setup an oil spill incident page with more information.

The public is urged to call and report any oiled wildlife @ 877-UCD-OWCN.

A 24 inch underground pipeline burst Tuesday morning near Refugio State Beach about 20 miles NW of Santa Barbara. At least 21,000 gallons of crude oil, specifically Las Flores Canyon OCS (Outer Continental Shelf), spilled into a culvert that led to the ocean.

Officials in Refugio Joint Information Center (JIC) estimate a worst-case scenario of up to 2,500 barrels (105,000 gallons) of crude oil was released from the pipeline.

The news media should contact the JIC by calling (805) 696-1188.

April 15, 2015

Last Mystery Goo Bird Released Back To The Wild

Russ Curtis of International Bird Rescue releases a male Surf Scoter, the last Mystery Goo  Response bird back to the wild in Sausalito on Wednesday. Photo courtesy Soren Hemmila, Marinscope Newspapers

The last Mystery Goo bird in care – a male Surf Scoter – was released Wednesday back to the wild.

The seaduck’s freedom represents the end of three long months of rehabilitation that included hundreds of birds that were contaminated in San Francisco Bay by a yet to be fully identified substance that coated birds with a sticky substance back in mid-January.

Male Surf Scoter was the last Mystery Goo released. Photo by Cheryl Reynodlss

Number: 165: A Male Surf Scoter was the last Mystery Goo bird released. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

“We are so happy to see the final clean, healthy seabird returned to the wild,” said Barbara Callahan, Interim Executive Director of International Bird Rescue (IBR). “We are also extremely grateful for the public’s support – including the generous donations that helped us fund this expensive response.”

The mystery goo impacted over 500 hundred aquatic birds – 323 were brought into care at IBR’s San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield and 165 of those have now been RELEASED! The remaining birds were in such poor condition they could not be saved. At least 170 dead bird carcasses were picked up during January by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

The goo covered the feathers of seabirds, destroying their ability to stay warm, but no mystery goo was found to be on the beach or in the water, which deepened the mystery.

No responsible party has yet to be identified and the cost of all the bird care has fallen to IBR who has relied on the help of the public and foundations for donations. Bird Rescue has spent nearly $150,000 on this unusual contaminant response. Donate here

Many of these rescued birds also came to the center with pressure sores on their hocks or toes from being stranded on hard land. These injures can take months of care and healing. Other patients had surgeries for keel injuries but most of those healed quickly.

On February 12, state and federal labs concluded that the substance that coated birds includes a mixture of non-petroleum-based fats or oils. See the press release from CAFW: http://ow.ly/J4bZp

This week a bill moved through the first round of committees that would open a state oil spill response fund to help pay for non-petroleum responses involving wildlife. See info on the bill proposed by California State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)

Surf Scoter released back to the wild by Russ Curtis of International Bird Rescue in Sausalito. Photo courtesy Soren Hemmila, Marinscope Newspapers

 

April 3, 2015

The Release Files: Two Laysan Albatross Back To The Wild!

Albatross-IMG_0779-Double-Release-webTwo Laysan Albatross, rare birds indeed for Southern California, are back in the wild this week after a successful release Thursday afternoon.

Usually, we see one a year, but to have two at the same time is pretty incredible,” said Julie Skoglund, Operations Manager at International Bird Rescue (IBR), quoted in a Daily Breeze newspaper story. Read more

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Two Laysan Albatross in the pool at IBR’s Los Angeles Center before release (above) off the San Pedro, CA coastline. Photos by Bill Steinkamp

The two wayward seabirds came into IBR’s Los Angeles Center late last month. One Laysan Albatross was rescued from a container ship and the other was found sitting in the desert. Read earlier blog post: Two Rare Albatross Ready For Release After Unusual SoCal Landings

Thanks to the Los Angeles County Lifeguards who shuttled the seabirds via boat ride to a release point off the San Pedro coastline.

IBR relies on the 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.

Every Bird Matters and so does your donation!

April 1, 2015

Two Rare Albatross Ready For Release After Unusual SoCal Landings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top photo by Kelly Berry – International Bird Rescue

March 30, 2015

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

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

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

Dear fellow bird lover,

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

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

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

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

Sacred-Dove

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

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

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

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

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

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

With deepest gratitude,

Barbara Signature

 

 

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

March 27, 2015

Laysan Albatross Long, Greasy Ride to Freedom

Laysan-Albatross-2-webA Laysan Albatross who hitched a ride on a west coast bound container ship is now safely in care at our Los Angeles center.

Laysan Albatross was cleaned of grease after being stuck on a container ship for at least 10 days.

Laysan Albatross was cleaned of grease after being stuck on a container ship for at least 10 days.

The seabird was emaciated and dehydrated when it was rescued on March 21st. It was also trapped between containers for at least 10 days on a ship enroute to the Port of Long Beach.

To add to its predicament, the Albatross was also found to be contaminated by grease and had a bathtub ring of oil around its chest. The bird was cleaned of grease at our center in San Pedro.

Over the last two days the bird has received supportive care (IV fluids and oral nutritional tubings). This week the bird is gaining weight and will soon be released back to the wild.

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

Read more on these wandering seabirds of the high seas:

Albatross: Looking for Land in All the Wrong Places

Double stowaway: Laysan Albatross catches a ride on container ship and a pickup

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March 23, 2015

$5,000 Reward Now Offered in Brown Pelican Gunshot Incident

With purple "vet wrap" to support the pinned wing, Brown Pelican is recuperating at our Los Angeles Center. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck

With purple “vet wrap” to support the pinned wing, Brown Pelican is recuperating at our Los Angeles Center. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck

International Bird Rescue, along with help from an anonymous donor, is now offering a $5,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for shooting an adult male Brown Pelican in Southern California.

Anyone with information that might lead to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for shooting this bird should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at 310-328-1516.

donate_button_IBROn March 12th, a pelican that could not fly, was captured by Redondo Beach Animal Control. After being brought to our Los Angeles wildlife center, International Bird Rescue staff discovered he had a broken wing (ulna) and a fishhook embedded in his right shoulder.

This case seemed like a straightforward fishing gear injury until clinic staff took radiographs and discovered the ulna fracture was due to a gunshot wound, as seen by the tiny speckles of metal visible in the X-ray image.

The fishhook injury thankfully was superficial, but the gunshot wound was very contaminated with debris and dead tissue. A few small pieces of smashed bone that were nearly falling out of the wound needed to be removed.

Our veterinarian Dr Rebecca Duerr performed surgery to pin the ulna together on March 18.  The surgery went well, but the injury still carries a substantial risk of infection and this case still holds a guarded prognosis for success.

Dr Rebecca Duerr removes pellet that broke Pelican's wing. Photo by Kelly Berry-International Bird Rescue

Dr Rebecca Duerr cleans and closes a gunshot wound prior to pinning the fractured pelican’s wing. Photo by Kelly Berry – International Bird Rescue. The x-ray (below) of the broken ulna show pieces of bullet.

Brown Pelicans are federally protected birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. As a species only recently removed from the Endangered Species List in 2009, Brown Pelicans have enough challenges in their lives without being shot. Please encourage your friends, neighbors and relatives to treat our wild avian neighbors with kindness and compassion.

IBR depends on the support of the public to care for animals injured in cruelty incidents, as well as those harmed by fishing gear and other human-caused injuries. Please donate now

(Updated with reward info on March 23, 2015)

Gunshot fractured this Brown Pelican's ulna (wing). X-ray by International Bird Rescue

February 26, 2015

Honoring school kids fundraising efforts with a bird release

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

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

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

All photos by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

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

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

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

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

February 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February 17, 2015

Mystery Goo Partially Identified, Cost Nears $150,000 To Rescue Birds

"Gummy Bear" the gooed Horned Grebe was released on February 12.

“Gummy Bear” the gooed Horned Grebe was released on February 12 at Fort Baker in Sausalito. Photo by Russ Curtis

As the mysterious goo that affected seabirds in San Francisco Bay is a little closer to being identified, International Bird Rescue continues to treat affected birds a month after more than 500 hypothermic and dying birds were discovered.

With no responsible party to help with the cost of bird care, International Bird Rescue’s finances are strained. To date, the non-profit organization has spent $150,000 on the response. It continues to rely on public support to help with costs associated with this unusual contaminant response. Donate Now

“We really need the public to step up and support the care of these beautiful seabirds,” said Barbara Callahan, interim executive director of International Bird Rescue.

On Thursday, Feb 12th, state and federal labs concluded that the substance that coated birds includes a mixture of non-petroleum-based fats or oils. Read the full press release from California Department Fish and Wildlife: http://ow.ly/J4bZp

See: San Francisco Chronicle story: Scientists close in on IDing bird-killing mystery goo

Volunteer Kathy Koehler and husband, Bill, release female Surf Scoters.

Volunteer Kathy Koehler and husband, Bill, release female Surf Scoters. Photo by Russ Curtis

“We are so grateful that the goo has been identified,” said Barbara Callahan. “This was a vexing substance to remove from the birds, but we succeeded even though we couldn’t identify the substance.”

The goo covered the feathers of the seabirds, destroying their ability to stay warm, but no mystery goo was found to be on the beach or in the water, which deepened the mystery.

Each of the birds was medically stabilized and then cleaned using a combination of baking soda and vinegar, followed by washing with Dawn detergent, and rinse to repair waterproofing.

The birds treated include: Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Buffleheads, Common Goldeneyes, and Scaups. More than 70% the bird affected were Surf Scoters.

The birds were mainly rescued beginning on January 16, 2015 along the East Bay shoreline from Alameda south to Hayward. All of the live birds came in to IBR’s San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield, CA.

110 Birds Have Been Returned to the Wild

On Thursday, February 12, six more cleaned birds were released at Fort Baker in Marin County. Included in the release was a Horned Grebe, dubbed “Gummy Bear” by clinic staff. This bird came into care early in the response completely covered in goo. Photo (above) shows before and after cleaning. See “Gummy Bear” video

Horned Grebe aka "Gummy Bear" came with super gunked feathers, 3 weeks later it was released clean.

Horned Grebe aka “Gummy Bear” came with super gunked feathers, 3 weeks later it was released clean. [See Larger Photo] Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Of the 323 brought in for care, 110 now have been released back to the San Francisco Bay. Another 78 birds are still in care. 135 died in care.

170 birds were collected dead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

The birds that still remain in care are those that entered our San Francisco Bay Center with serious but treatable medical problems. These included severe emaciation, anemia, or injuries.

Many of the rescued birds came to the center with pressure sores to their hocks or toes from being stranded on hard land, and these may take up to 2 or 3 months to treat. Several dozen birds have also had surgeries for keel injuries but most of these healed quickly. Some of these have already been released; others should be ready to go soon.

No new goo-covered, live birds have been found since Thursday, January 22.

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Male Surf Scoters, 70% of the seabirds rescued, fill pool at our San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Mark Russell