Every Bird Matters
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Oiled Wildlife

March 15, 2019

Update Two Crises: 2nd Team Deployed to South Africa, Rising Number of California Oiled Birds

An orphaned Lesser Flamingo chick is fed during South Africa waterbird response.

As two avian crises, on two continents, continues to unfold, International Bird Rescue is sending a new team to South Africa to support a large scale waterbird rescue. And at home in California, additional staff has been added to respond to rising numbers of oiled birds.

Bird Rescue is asking the public to help support these responses: DONATE NOW

This week Bird Rescue will add another response team, including our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, in South Africa as they care for an extraordinary number of orphaned Lesser Flamingo chicks. They will be assisting Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB)–one of our longtime partners– along with other wildlife organizations–is involved in this large-scale waterbird rescue. Read earlier blog post

Many of the Lesser Flamingos are beginning to show their signature pink color in their down feathers. Our team is already on the ground (watch this earlier video) and has helped hand feed the hungry birds. As of now the flamingos are learning to feed on there own in large outdoor pens.

Oiled Seabirds

In California, oiled bird intakes now stand at 183 since the beginning of 2019. At least 30 clean birds have been successfully released so far! Our team continues to work hard to stabilize these seabirds, oiled by naturally occurring petroleum, so they can move through the wash process.

You can see recently washed birds in outdoor pools on the live birdcam in Los Angeles! You’ll notice they spend a significant amount of time preening, which helps them regain their waterproofing.

Your support during this time of need is greatly appreciated! Join us to help birds in crisis in California and South Africa today!

If you would like to speak to someone directly about making a major gift through your trust or corporation, please call us at (510) 289-1472.

Cleaned of oil, Grebes and a Loon in the outdoor recovery pool at the Los Angeles Wildlife Center. Photo by Angie Trumbo/International Bird Rescue

March 6, 2019

Two Crises – Two Continents

A tiny Lesser Flamingo chick is among the thousands of birds dramatically rescued in South Africa. Photo ©SANCCOB

International Bird Rescue is responding to two simultaneous avian emergencies on opposite sides of the globe, and we need your support! Donate now

Over 150 oiled birds affected by natural seep off the coast have flooded our wildlife centers in Northern and Southern California since the beginning of this year, triggering an increase of staffing to crisis levels. Meanwhile, a team from Bird Rescue has just landed in South Africa to aid in the rescue of thousands of baby Lesser Flamingos. These birds were abandoned in their drought-stricken breeding grounds at the Kamfers Dam near Kimberley – about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from Cape Town.

Oiled by natural seep, a Western Grebe seabird gets a washing at our Los Angeles Wildlife Center in San Pedro, CA. Photo by Angie Trumbo/International Bird Rescue

Many of the rescued baby flamingos are in care at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), one of our longtime partners. We first worked with SANCCOB in Cape Town almost twenty five years ago, and their team has once again invited us to assist with the rehabilitation of waterbirds in crisis. We are more than happy to help, and want give a big thank you to the Dallas Zoo for being in the first wave of international responders for this incident and sponsoring our international flights.

In California, more oil contaminated birds continue to flow into care each week. We thank our partner organizations, especially the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network and SPCA of Monterey County for stabilizing and transferring many of these oiled birds to us. We also thank the Oiled Wildlife Care Network for partnering with us on many levels and generously supporting a portion of the cost for caring for these animals. You can read news coverage of our current oiled wildlife response on CBS NewsNBC Los Angeles, and the Orange County Register.

Please join us when so many seabirds need our help throughout the world. To support our response costs and the ongoing care of these birds, please consider making a donation today.

If you would like to speak to someone directly about making a major gift through your trust or corporation, please call us at (510) 289-1472.

February 14, 2019

Seabirds Oiled By Natural Seep Along California Coast Flood Los Angeles Center

A Western Grebe oiled by natural seep is cleaned at the Los Angeles Wildlife Center. Photo: Bill Steinkamp

Updated 3/4/2019

Since the beginning of 2019, more than 150 oiled seabirds coated in natural seep have been found stranded on beaches up and down the coast of California, from San Mateo County to Orange County.

The rescued birds are being washed and rehabilitated at our Los Angeles wildlife center. They include mainly Western Grebes, Clark’s Grebes, Red-throated Loons, and Surf Scoters. This influx of contaminated patients is not unusual. Each year in the fall and winter months Bird Rescue experiences an “Oiled Bird Season” as migrating birds pass through naturally occurring oil seeps. Read NOAA information: Natural Oil Seeps in Southern California

Oiled Common Murre seabird will be stabilized with food, fluids and rest before being washed at the SF Bay-Delta Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

As a member organization of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network with a fully equipped state-of-the-art wash facility, Bird Rescue staff and volunteers are trained and ready to provide these patients with the specialized care that they need. While it is unfortunate any time a bird becomes oiled, these seasonal seep birds give us the chance to practice the techniques and procedures that would be used during a spill emergency. All animal care workers don appropriate personal protective equipment as they work to stabilize each oiled patient and eventually move them through wash, which is a long and taxing process for these birds. See cleaned birds on the live BirdCam

“One of the most important things that people should understand about caring for oiled wildlife is that the wash is just a small portion of the overall work that needs to be done in order to successfully rehabilitate and release these birds back into the wild,” said Julie Skoglund, Bird Rescue’s Operations Manager.

Once they are adequately hydrated and nourished, each bird takes about 30-60 minutes to go through the four-step wash and rinse process. Afterwards it is moved to a specialized enclosure to dry off. Then begins the multi-day process of waterproofing: a labor-intensive effort on the part of both patient and staff. It involves extensive feather preening, several days of moving back and forth between pools and drying pens, frequent checkups, and additional spot washes as needed. Once the bird has completely re-established its waterproofing, it will remain in care until any additional injuries have been resolved and it has attained a healthy state.

We are thankful for our partner organizations, especially the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, for stabilizing and transferring many of these oiled birds to us.

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network generously supports a portion of the cost for caring for these animals. To learn more about the Oiled Wildlife Care Network and their work with oil-affected wildlife, please visit https://owcn.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/

If you would like to contribute to the care of these birds, please donate today at https://www.bird-rescue.org/get-involved/donate

To report an oiled or injured animal, call the Oiled Wildlife Care Network hotline at (877) 823-6926.

Cleaned of oil, Western Grebes swim in one of the pelagic pools at the wildlife center in San Pedro, CA. Photo: Angie Trumbo/International Bird Rescue

July 1, 2018

Bird Rescue Celebrates 40 Years With Dawn, Procter And Gamble

No one wishes for oil spills. Not petroleum companies, and certainly not those of us who care about the environment. But spills do happen, and one particularly bad spill occurred in 1971 right outside San Francisco Bay. When bad things happen, good people respond. A group of concerned local citizens trooped down to beaches and shoreline all around the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay in a desperate attempt to rescue thousands of birds covered in oil.

Dawn is holding a 40-year celebration at Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall in New York City.

After that first oil spill, we explored many different ways to clean oil off of aquatic birds. Seven years later, in 1978, International Bird Rescue started what would become a 40-year relationship (and counting) with Procter and Gamble. Through trial, error, and our tenacity to find a solution, we discovered that Procter and Gamble’s Dawn dish soap, was the golden ticket! It was inexpensive, effective, readily available, and Procter and Gamble was excited to learn about this somewhat unusual use of their product.

Since then, Procter and Gamble have become one of our biggest supporters, donating countless bottles of Dawn dish soap to us, and committing hundreds of thousands of dollars to support our wildlife rehabilitation, research, and spill response work.

Fortunately, our 47 years of work has helped improve emergency response techniques and outcomes for oiled wildlife across the globe. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of other threats to aquatic birds. Rescuing birds negatively affected by urban wildlife conflicts such as habitat loss, cruelty, and fishing entanglements (from hooks, lines, and nets) is an ever-increasing volume of our work.

See: History of DAWN helping save wildlife

We can all take action every day to make a difference and improve the  human impact on aquatic birds by opting for wooden stir sticks (instead of plastic) at the local coffee shop, using reusable water bottles (instead of single-use plastic bottles), making sure to never litter, and by donating to International Bird Rescue. Join us, and we can all continue this life-saving work. To learn more about becoming a corporate sponsor, click here.

Cleaning oiled wildlife at the 2010 Deepwater Gulf Oil Spill in Louisiana.

 

June 27, 2018

Bird Rescue Remains On-Call in the Wake of Two Major Oil Spills

Within the past week, there have been two notable oil spills impacting the world. In Rotterdam, Netherlands, hundreds of swans and other birds were oiled when 7,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil spilled into the harbor. Closer to home in Doon, Iowa, a train derailment leaked 230,000 gallons of oil into the Rock River. Both spills are categorized as “Tier 2” events, meaning that response officials are utilizing not only local responders but also national resources and response teams.

With 47 years of experience in oil spill response, we are eager to bring our skills to the scene and we stand prepared at a moment’s notice. Having handled a very similar situation to the Rotterdam spill in 2006, involving large numbers of swans at the Tallinn (Estonia) Oil Spill, we are on alert to offer our services and experience if and when it is needed. With close to 1,000 birds currently affected by the spill, we are currently in regular contact with the officials in the Netherlands and ready to activate when the call is made by on-scene officials.

Quick action is key to a successful wildlife response. With three crisis response hospitals and a fully trained team of staff and volunteers, International Bird Rescue is prepared and ready to respond to an oil spill 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our 45+ years of specialized experience in rescuing and caring for oiled wildlife has made International Bird Rescue a global leader in oil spill response, training, and preparedness. Even while caring for the over 300 rehabilitating birds currently in care, we are ready to take action – helping to do our part to make our global waters a safer place for waterbirds in crisis.

To read more about the spill in Rotterdam, click here. To learn more about the spill in Iowa, click here. To stay up-to-date on Bird Rescue’s involvement with these spills – watch out for updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

March 30, 2018

Sometimes in a Spill Crisis, No Wildlife is the Best Outcome

Spill Location, Shuyak Island, Alaska

In February, just as many of our team were arriving for our co-hosting duties of this year’s National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association conference in Anaheim, CA, International Bird Rescue was called to respond to an oil spill in the remote islands of the Kodiak Archipelago.

The details were only just emerging: a 3,000-gallon bladder stored inside a dockside building fell into the ocean when strong winds caused the building to collapse.

Spectacled Eider pair, photographed by Jay Holcomb

Bad weather and surging 15′ waves prevented anyone in the response team from reaching the location in that first day, so available wildlife information was limited. Local knowledge of the area suggested that sea and river otters, seals, whales, and a variety of birds were regularly seen in the region. Our biggest concern was that the location of the spill (within a narrow strait) could mean that a large number of seabirds were weathering the storm in that very spot.

Among those of highest concern were vulnerable sea ducks like STELLER’S EIDER and SPECTACLED EIDER (shown left). These species tend to overwinter in massive flocks, making them especially vulnerable to oil spills because a large group could be affected all at once.

This effect was the case during the Treasure Oil Spill in South Africa in the year 2000 in which we participated as part of the

Photo of Treasure Oil Spill Penguin Rescue

International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) now-defunct spill response team, which affected more than 40,000 endangered African Penguins and still represents the largest and most successful wildlife response in history. To the right is an image from that spill response and demonstrates our worst fears for a large-scale disaster.

Since the spill location was hard to access, we were kept on standby in Anchorage alongside the incident command while we prepared for the possibility of oiled birds at International Bird Rescue’s Alaska Wildlife Response Center (IBR-AWRC). Preparations included developing a wildlife response plan with other wildlife agencies present, walking through the center, checking availability of our extensive response team for immediate deployment, performing inventory checks on our clinical supplies as well as those of our partner Alaska Chadux Corporation, an oil spill response organization which handles the environmental cleanup while we handle the wildlife.

Trusty bottle of Dawn dish soap in the response container ready to be deployed

The response effort achieved “boots on the ground” on the third day as the first responders were able to access the spill site and give a better assessment of actual impacts. There were no reports of oiled wildlife and all wildlife seen anywhere in the vicinity were behaving normally. This positive result was likely the result of two combining factors: harsh weather and the dense nature of the oil product that spilled.

To read more about the official account: Port William Shuyak Island Bunker C Spill.

As the week progressed, there were still no reports of oiled wildlife and we were able to spend our early evenings after the work day conducting a Bird Rescue tradition: Wildlife Surveys. Wildlife surveys involve seeking out native animals and birds in their natural habitat because:

  1. they prepare us well for the next spill by acclimating the team to the specific dynamics in a location, and
  2. since we’re all animal lovers, they provide rare opportunities to see wildlife from other regions.

Among the sightings from the Anchorage area: several MOOSE with yearlings, DALL SHEEP, COMMON RAVENS, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, BLACK-CAPPED and BOREAL CHICKADEES (great for comparison), BROWN CREEPERS, COMMON and HOARY REDPOLLS, PINE GROSBEAKS, a very cooperative SHORT-EARED OWL, and a NORTHERN SHRIKE.

When I return to Alaska as a trainer in July, I’ll be looking for my next target: BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, and I’ll keep you posted how that goes.

We are glad to report that to date no wildlife have been seen as affected by this spill. The cleanup effort continues and will likely do so for quite a while. In a spill response, however, no wildlife is often the best possible outcome. 

March 14, 2018

2018 –Ventura Oil Seep Response

Photo of oiled seabird called a Western Grebe beiung washed at International Bird Rescue.

An oiled Western Grebe, a seabird that spends the majority of its life in open ocean, gets cleaned of natural oil seep at Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center.

By Kylie Clatterbuck, Los Angeles Wildlife Center Manager

Late last month International Bird Rescue received the news that our friends at Santa Barbara Wildlife (SBW) were seeing an unusually large number of beached oiled birds along the coast near Ventura Harbor.  Oiled birds can be a common occurrence this time of year due to the ocean’s natural oil seeps and the migrating birds who overwinter in Southern California waters. However by the end of February 2018,  there were at least 11 live oiled Western Grebes captured during search and collection.

A Western Grebe rests on net bottom caging awaiting cleaning of natural oil seep .

To ensure that we were dealing with natural oil seep, rather than an oil spill, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) was notified and transport was arranged to bring the birds down to Bird Rescue for evidence collection and primary care. In total, Bird Rescue received 18 oiled over the course of three days.

When working with oiled wildlife, samples are collected from each bird for chemical “fingerprinting” by the Petroleum Chemistry Lab of the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife; it was determined that the oil was in fact from a natural seep. Natural oil seep is common along the Southern California Coast and acts much like spilled oil.

Western Grebes spend the entirety of their lives in water, propelling themselves with their feet to hunt for fish. When a bird becomes oiled, it’s feather structure is compromised leaving them unable to remain waterproof, maintain internal temperature, or hunt for food. They also can sustain secondary injuries and burns as a result and will die unless rescued and the oil cleaned off by trained personnel.

When we received these birds, many of them were in poor body condition, extremely dehydrated, and heavily oiled. Medically stabilizing these birds before putting them through an extensive and stressful wash process is incredibly important. By giving the birds nutritional tube feedings and a warm environment, we were able to improve their condition quickly and wash the oil off within a few days of admittance. But that’s just the beginning…

The days after wash are spent tirelessly giving the birds access to water, assessing their waterproofing, and aiding the birds while drying any wet areas still remaining post wash. It’s a lot of work for the staff, but it’s even more work for the birds who need to preen their feathers all while living under the stress of an alien environment. These are wild animals that are affected by the stressors of human interaction, noise, and simply being out of water for several days.

After two weeks, we’re happy to report that most of the birds are already waterproof and living in one of our large pools! We will now be working on conditioning these birds for release back into the wild by improving their body condition and treating any injuries/wounds they may have acquired during the ordeal of becoming oiled.

Volunteer Mary Test helps intake nearly 20 oiled seabirds covered in natural oil seep from Ventura, CA.

Freshly washed of oil, Western Grebes are moved to the outdoor pelagic pools at the center located in San Pedro, CA.

 

December 18, 2017

Partnerships in Action: BP

Cackling Geese Release

With the end of 2017 approaching, we thought this was a good time to tell the story of how one of our long-time clients, BP, came through this year in a big way. Our partner went to extraordinary lengths to make sure that three 4-week-old Cackling Geese were taken care of after accidentally falling into an oil pit on the North Slope of Alaska. The goslings somehow managed to make their way through the secure netting over a protected pit, ending up in a pool of oil. Once they were discovered, BP’s on-call emergency spill responders—who receive wildlife training from us annually—were immediately contacted. They were able to remove the birds from the pit, stabilize them, and then transfer them by air to the Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC), our turnkey facility in Anchorage.

The goslings were met at the airport by our Response Services Manager, Michelle Bellizzi, who initiated our oiled-bird protocol while rushing them to the AWRC. Once at the AWRC, the goslings were medically stabilized for several days to get them healthy enough to withstand the rigors of cleaning. Once clean, the birds were moved to a reconditioning and waterproofing pool. For most of the next two weeks, Michelle worked with the birds to resolve chemical skin burns and help the birds reestablish their waterproofing. Also during this time, the birds were temporarily housed at The Bird Treatment and Learning Center, a partner organization in Anchorage that was able to provide them with a secure waterproofing pool for several days. Once the birds were back at the AWRC, the final waterproofing was established. Then, after meeting stringent release criteria, the birds were flown on BP’s daily charter flight up to their home in Prudhoe Bay and released into the wild!

Many resources go into rehabilitating oiled and/or injured wildlife, and that’s one of the reasons we’re so grateful for our partnerships. BP kindly paid for all of the birds’ expenses and rehabilitation, making it possible for us to save these sweet little goslings. We are continuously inspired by these relationships, and we are always pleased when communities and corporations get involved and engage in helping us protect wildlife. It truly does take a village, and we are happy to have the one we have!

 

 

 

November 7, 2017

Cosco Busan Oil Spill: 10th Anniversary of Disaster on San Francisco Bay

This month is the somber 10-year anniversary of one of the worst environmental disasters to befall the San Francisco Bay. On November 7, 2007, an oil spill near the Bay Bridge left thousands of oiled birds dead and dying.

More than 50,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel oil leaked into the bay on that day. Carried by the bay’s turbulent tidal currents, the oily mess coated beaches and shorelines throughout the Bay, past the Golden Gate Bridge, onto Marin County beaches. Within days we and our partners treated over 1,000 birds at our SF Bay–Delta wildlife center. Read report from 2007

The oil spill occurred when the Cosco Busan container ship collided with the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The collision dumped 54,000 gallons of oil called “bunker fuel” into the Bay. The spill oiled 70-miles of Bay Area shoreline. During the aftermath of the spill, at least 3,000 live and dead birds were collected. Some biologists speculate that the number of affected birds was even greater, with reports that up to 3x as many birds may have been oiled and then succumbed to death outside the bay. This event occurred during a busy migration time for birds moving through the area.

The majority of affected seabirds included: Surf Scoters, Clark’s and Western Grebes, and Eared and Horned Grebes.

All oil spills are extremely toxic to marine life but especially bunker fuel spills. The thick oil causes the natural insulation in the bird’s feathers to break down, resulting in the bird’s inability to thermoregulate, which can lead to hypothermia and even death. For birds that float and feed through a spill, it’s a death sentence if not rescued quickly. In addition to having problems thermoregulating, once oiled, the birds will spend most of their time trying to preen the oil out of their feathers and thus ingest the oil. Weakened, they will often beach themselves and fall prey to predators or die from oil toxicity. See: How Oil Affects Birds

Thousands of Bay Area citizens moved to volunteer and gave time. With this contribution hundreds of birds were rehabilitated and released.

While we are fortunate to have not had a large spill in the Bay Area since 2007, we remain vigilant and prepared to respond to such an event at a moment’s notice.

Other media reports

Cosco Busan oil spill – 10 years later (Golden Gate Audubon)

Richardson Bay islands’ revival following Cosco Busan Spill (Marin IJ)

Ten years after the Cosco Busan oil spill: Preparedness and response improved; $30M in environmental restoration ongoing (Cosco Busan Trustee Council)

Oiled Ring-billed Gull. Photo: Glen Tepke

Washing an Eared Grebe during the Cosco Busan Oil Spill response. Photo by Russ Curtis/International Bird Rescue

 

More than a 1,000 oiled birds, including a pool full of Scoters, were treated at the San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center. Photo by Russ Curtis/International Bird Rescue

July 1, 2017

Photo of the Week: Oiled Great Egret is clean again


This week, a contaminated Great Egret arrived at our Los Angeles wildlife center. Rescued in Huntington Beach, CA, it was covered over 100% of its body with an unidentified contaminant resembling lubricant. These birds are usually a pure white, but this egret came into care with matted yellow feathers (upper left photo).

Thanks to our rehabilitation team, the bird was stabilized with fluids and rest. Then it was washed using our 46 years of time-tested methods and DAWN dishwashing liquid.

We’re happy to report that this cleaned bird (upper right photo) is healthy and eating well. It will be returned the wild as soon as it puts on some weight and proves to have no infections.

Great Egrets are large birds – about twice the size of a Snowy Egret – and can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet. Learn more from our friends at Cornell Lab or Ornithology: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Egret/id

Photos by Kylie Clatterbuck and Devin Hanson

 

March 24, 2017

A Weakened EPA Means Even More Need for Bird Rescue

With current threats to clean water, regulation and protection of endangered species, our work is as critical as ever. International Bird Rescue is a world leader in oiled wildlife response and aquatic bird rehabilitation, with the mission to mitigate human impact.

Bird Rescue came into being in 1971 after an oil spill near the Golden Gate Bridge resulted in the contamination of thousands of seabirds. For the last 46 years, we have remained on standby to respond to large-scale spills and human-caused disasters.

In our everyday work, we are responding to ever-increasing challenges for wildlife in our environment. We aim to provide the highest standard of care and to release as many rehabilitated birds as possible back into the wild.

In addition to delivering the necessary food and medical expertise to meet patients’ needs, we build public awareness and understanding of the environmental impacts of human activity on water birds and the ecosystems they inhabit.

Your support now will allow us to respond when we are needed. We hope it will not be soon, but we must be prepared no matter what challenge may arise.

To see a map of our global spill response efforts since 1971, click here.

 

February 22, 2016

New Oiled Birds Tied To Old Sunken Ship Still Leaking Off San Francisco

Oiled Red-necked Grebe

Oiled Red-necked Grebe in care. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds

Oiled seabirds recently cared for by International Bird Rescue have been conclusively traced back to a leaking cargo ship that sunk off the coast of California more than 60 years ago.

Since December of 2015, Bird Rescue’s wildlife center in Fairfield has cared for nine oiled birds including a Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Western Grebe, and six Common Murres. All the birds were rescued along beaches in San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.

“International Bird Rescue exists to help mitigate human impacts on birds, and the Luckenbach unfortunately is a huge human mistake that continues to taint these beautiful seabirds,” said JD Bergeron, Executive Director. “We will continue to use our 45 years of experience to wash and rehabilitate contaminated wildlife, to train others to do so, to innovate with care options. Ultimately, this whole effort is to get more of these birds back to the wild.”

To date, three birds have been released, two are still in care, and the four remaining have died. A Red-necked Grebe was one of those released. Here is description of the steps to recovery: http://blog.bird-rescue.org/index.php/2016/02/patient-of-the-week-red-necked-grebe/.

Feather samples from the oiled birds sent to a California state lab confirmed that the oil came from the S.S. Jacob Luckenbach that sank in 180 feet of water on July 14, 1953 about 17 miles west-southwest of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. This cargo vessel was loaded with 457,000 gallons of bunker fuel. It has been leaking sporadically over the years – especially during winter months when strong currents bring oil to the ocean’s surface.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) announced these findings late last week.

Luckenbach sank 17 miles off San Francisco coast in 1953 and has been leaking oil ever since.

Luckenbach sank 17 miles off San Francisco coast in 1953 and has been leaking oil ever since.

In early 2002, oil associated with several “mystery spills” was first linked to the Luckenbach. These included the Point Reyes Tarball Incidents of winter 1997-1998 and the San Mateo Mystery Spill of 2001-2002.

Over the years, Bird Rescue estimates it has treated thousands of “mystery spill” birds.

“Bird Rescue has shouldered much of the cost of caring for these oiled birds, going back many years.” said Bergeron. “The oceans are becoming less and less hospitable for birds and other marine wildlife, even without these toxins. We step up to help because we believe every bird matters, and we’re grateful for the incredible community support we get.”

By September 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard and the trustees removed more than 100,000 gallons of the fuel oil from the vessel and sealed the remaining oil inside the vessel – including some 29,000 gallons that was inaccessible to be pumped out of the ship’s tanks.

What to do if you observe oiled wildlife

Anyone observing oiled wildlife should not approach or touch the animals. Please report the exact location and condition of the animal to Oiled Wildlife Care Network at (877) 823-6926.

How oil affects birds

When oil sticks to a bird’s feathers, it causes them to mat and separate, impairing waterproofing and exposing the animal’s sensitive skin to extremes in temperature. This can result in hypothermia, meaning the bird becomes cold, or hyperthermia, which results in overheating. Instinctively, the bird tries to get the oil off its feathers by preening, which results in the animal ingesting the oil and causing severe damage to its internal organs. In this emergency situation, the focus on preening overrides 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.

Resources

http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/maritime/expeditions/luckenbach.html

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/OSPR/NRDA/Jacob-Luckenbach

Red-necked Grebe preens its feathers after being washed of oil. Photo Cheryl Reynolds

Red-necked Grebe preens its feathers after being washed of oil. Photo Cheryl Reynolds

February 16, 2016

Patient of the Week: Red-necked Grebe

An oiled Red-necked Grebe is our patient of the week. This grebe whose temporary tag was “Red-33” came into the center with oil contamination on December 18, 2015. He was stabilized, washed, then treated for foot injuries likely caused by beaching when the oil removed his waterproofing.

After nearly 2 months in care, he was returned to the wild on February 10, 2016.

Here’s the steps to recovery:

Intake

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe at International Bird Rescue

When this bird arrived, you could barely recognize what species he was due to the heavy contamination with oil. Every oiled bird receives a thorough examination upon intake in order to assess related injuries such as skin burns, foot and toe damage, and emaciation.

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe feathers at International Bird Rescue

While examining an oiled bird, Bird Rescue staff assess the extent of contamination and collect oiled feather samples for use by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oil Spill Response and Prevention office.

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe toes at International Bird Rescue

Grebe feet are among the most beautiful of bird feet, with their lobed toes. They are unfortunately also among the most delicate. An oiled bird will often be forced to beach itself because its feathers no longer retain waterproofing or heat. Within a very short time, these delicate toes can become damaged by sand and rough surfaces. This damage can be nearly impossible to undo if the bird does not come into care quickly enough.

 After stabilization and wash

Photo of Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

After stabilization, the bird goes through the wash process. This photo was taken right after the wash process. The grebe is preening and bathing to get its feathers back in order, a very good sign!

 Preening is cleaning

Photo of preening Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

Preening activities immediately after the wash ensure that the bird is doing its part to maintain waterproofing.

Ready for release

Photo of Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

Success is a fully waterproof grebe with healthy feet and a little extra weight on it to ease the transition back into the wild and the renewed search for its own food! Thanks to everyone who helped this bird with direct care or a donation!!

Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

 

June 27, 2015

The Release Files: Clean Western Grebe from Refugio Oil Spill

Grebe-released_0030-X3-web

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 2, 2015

2015 – Refugio Pipeline Spill

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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 (above) 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/

Photo oiled Peilcan at International Bird Rescue

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