Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Success Stories

July 23, 2014

Taking flight with Richmond youth!

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All photos © International Bird Rescue-Cheryl ReynoldsSNEG

With the help of some eager young bird watchers, a group of herons and egrets has a new lease on life!

On July 23, we teamed up with the Richmond Police Activities League (or “RPAL”) youth group to set free five Snowy Egrets and three Black-crowned Night Herons at Pt. Pinole Regional Park with a jaw-dropping view of the San Francisco Bay.

Snowy Egrets have long been a bird of special interest — they were hunted to near extinction in the early 20th century for their plumes and have rebounded thanks to the grit and determination of conservationists.

But prior to this summer, many Bay Area residents may have never heard of a Black-crowned Night Heron – that is, until a May tree-trimming incident in Oakland resulted in several orphaned herons falling from their nests. Local and national media descended on this story as five young patients were brought to our San Francisco Bay center with broken bones and scrapes. All were also too young to survive on their own, and were released in early June after several weeks in care.

This year, we’ve raised over 250 young Black-crowned Night Herons and over 130 Snowy Egrets at the San BCNHFrancisco Bay center — far above our usual levels.

So we were very excited this week to team up with Chevron Richmond and the East Bay Regional Parks District to host a release event with RPAL kids on a field trip to Pt. Pinole. After their carriers were carefully carried and opened by team RPAL, the birds flew up into a nearby eucalyptus tree or to some tall grass nearby for cover.

As part of our Snowy Egret project, the egrets released all have red leg bands with a unique identification number. These birds are numbered C44, C45, C46, C47 and C48. If you see these birds in the wild, please report your sighting by emailing us.

International Bird Rescue’s team loves to share our passion for animals with local youth. If you are a local youth group in the Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay Area and you’d like more information on a release outing, please email us!

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. is a longtime supporter of International Bird Rescue’s local and global efforts to save seabirds, and will sponsor the community release of these herons. “We are honored to be a part of the release of these herons and provide RPAL youth with the opportunity to learn more about our environment,” said Kory Judd, Refinery General Manager. “Partnerships with organizations such as the International Bird Rescue are an integral part of our commitment to protecting and preserving the environment.”

Preservation plans for the release site at Breuner Marsh, located within the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, include restoring wetlands and coastline prairie, as well as providing improved public access to the shoreline and a 1.5-mile extension of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Thanks for being our release pals today, RPAL!

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June 9, 2014

Black-crowned Night Herons released in Oakland marsh

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Four of five juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons released at MLK Jr. Shoreline Regional Park in Oakland. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

We think it’s safe to say that most citizens of the Bay Area now know what a Black-crowned Night Heron BCNHis….

The subject of extensive media attention in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, local TV news and NBC’s The Today Show, five baby Black-crowned Night Herons — a federally protected species — were injured in early May after falling from their nests during a tree-trimming incident at a U.S. Post Office location.

All herons were brought to WildCare in Marin County for initial treatment before transfer to International Bird Rescue San Francisco Bay center, which specializes in herons and other aquatic species.

The injured herons have been treated for injuries sustained from the fall, with one baby heron suffering a fractured mandible that required surgery and healed remarkably. Ernesto Pulido, the proprietor of the tree-trimming business, immediately stepped forward to pay for the care of these animals.

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Yassira Murphy, a young birder from Oakland Tech High School, releases a juvenile heron. Photo by Rick Lewis via Golden Gate Audubon

Fast-forward to this past Saturday, where we were proud to work with Golden Gate Audubon Society on a release event at Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline Park in Oakland. Four of the five herons from this incident were successfully released; the fifth is still in care but doing well (a fifth bird ready for release joined the other four at MLK Shoreline’s New Marsh). Thank you to Mr. Pulido as well for stopping by!

These are some of the dozens of herons we’ve cared for this season. You can support their ongoing care here.

Other good news: Our friends at Golden Gate Audubon have put together a wonderful pamphlet on tree-trimming and baby birds season that you can download here. A Spanish-language version will be released soon.

And thank you to all the birders who came out to see our patients off! We were happy to see these young herons start hunting for prey at the marsh within a half hour of release.

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June 9, 2014

Black Rail, banded and released

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Photo by Isabel Luevano

An elusive bird that hides in thick marsh vegetation, the Black Rail is listed as a near-threatened species (and formally listed as a threatened species by the State of California).BLRA

The rail’s wetland habitat, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) notes, “is threatened by pollution, drought, wildfires, groundwater removal, changing water levels, grazing and agricultural expansion.”

This spring, our San Francisco Bay center cared for a baby Black Rail, a victim of cat predation that suffered a broken mandible. Researchers with the Black Rail Project at the University of California-Berkeley banded the bird once its injuries had healed and it was old enough to be released.

We’re happy to report this bird was released at Petaluma Marsh, where it was originally found!

June 4, 2014

Release! Pink the Pelican


L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino releases Pink. Photos and video by Bill Steinkamp and Kira Perov (volume adjustment on lower right of video control panel)

Pink, a California Brown Pelican and now arguably one of the most famous patients in International Bird Rescue history, was successfully released on Tuesday afternoon at White Point Park in San Pedro, CA, by L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, assisted by a lovely young girl excited to see the bird off on its next adventures.

As you may have read, less than seven weeks ago this animal was brought to our Los Angeles center with its throat pouch nearly severed off its bill. A human-caused injury, the incident sparked outrage among animal lovers in Southern California and beyond. A $20,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this illegal act. Tips may be made anonymous to US Fish and Wildlife Service at 310-328-1516.

Thank you to everyone who helped support the care of this bird, including the Port of Long Beach, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, Terranea Resort and countless bird lovers in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the country.

After two surgeries and weeks in care, this pelican made a record recovery and was very eager for release from our large pelican aviary. As part of our Blue-Banded Pelican Program, we banded Pink with a blue band reading V70. If you see Pink out along the Pacific Coast, you can report your sighting here.

Releases are always powerful experiences that cut through the madness of modern life. International Bird Rescue’s “Every Bird Matters” mantra was definitely the theme of the day. Photographer Bill Steinkamp was on hand to take some wonderful photos of the event. Enjoy!

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May 31, 2014

Pink the Pelican scheduled for release

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Photos by Bill Steinkamp

Good news!

“Pink,” a California Brown Pelican who made national headlines after being found with a near-severed throat pouch caused by an unknown assailant, has made a truly remarkable recovery at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center and is scheduled for a June 3 release. Here’s the scheduled release information for this public event:

When: Tuesday, June 3 at 12:30 P.M.

Where: White Point Park in San Pedro CA. Address: Kay Fiorentino Drive, San Pedro, CA 90731 (see map below).

Nicknamed for the color of the bird’s temporary leg band worn while in care at IBR, Pink was found with a mutilated pouch over six weeks ago by Long Beach Animal Control officers. Unable to feed, the bird was extremely thin, anemic and could not fly when brought to IBR.

“Despite the vicious attack against this pelican, Pink brought out the best in wildlife lovers all over the country, who supported and rallied behind the bird’s care and recovery,” said IBR executive director Jay Holcomb. “Though we still don’t know who committed this criminal act, we’re thrilled to release a strong and healthy Pink, one of hundreds of pelicans we care for every year.”

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Pink the Pelican, prior to surgery to repair a slashed pouch

During the past year, pelican pouch slashings perpetrated by humans have been seen in California, Florida and North Carolina. Pink’s pouch laceration required hundreds of stitches during two operations lasting a total of six hours.

“Over the course of treatment, I’ve seen Pink transform from weak and sad to feisty and voracious,” said IBR staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr, who has performed nearly 100 pelican pouch surgeries in her career. “Despite having the largest pouch laceration I’ve ever seen, he did great during post-operative care and has healed in record time.”

IBR is extremely grateful for support from the Port of Long Beach for Pink, whose care was also aided by donations from the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, Terranea Resort and bird lovers in Southern California and beyond. The Animal Legal Defense Fund assisted IBR with communicating this animal cruelty story to the public.

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Pink’s recovery was made possible by IBR animal care staff, who performed regular exams on the bird and provided extensive rehabilitative and supportive care.

 

May 28, 2014

Rehabilitated Snowy Egrets settle into San Francisco Bay

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Photos by Cindy Margulis

Golden Gate Audubon Society executive director Cindy Margulis recently sent us these photos of a Snowy Egret with a red leg band (and several hungry babies) at the Alameda Bay Farm Colony in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band indicates that this bird was a former patient of our San Francisco Bay center in Fairfield, CA.

Margulis notes that she has seen as many as four red-banded egrets at this location thus far in 2014 — birds that likely were released at the nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park, about two miles away.

“They learned the location, most likely, from following the foraging adult Snowy Egrets in the MLK marsh, once they were released,” Margulis says. “Then, after surviving to reach breeding age, they knew just where to start their own families!”

It’s always a thrill to see the birds we care for become a part of the breeding population. Thanks for sending, Cindy!

Meanwhile, our San Francisco Bay center currently is caring for 16 Snowy Egrets. Check out the species in our care here.

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March 6, 2014

Release! Brown Booby

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Photos and video by Bill SteinkampBRBO

It’s been a long, strange trip for this wayward Brown Booby. But we’re pleased to report there’s a happy ending.

To bring you up to speed: In December, we received this female Brown Booby at our San Francisco Bay center from our friends at WildCare, which in turn had received it from local sculptor Patricia Vader, who came across the injured bird at Point Reyes on the Pacific Coast. Upon intake, we found her to be extremely thin and suffering from foot injuries that later required surgery.

After several weeks in the aviary, we transferred the booby south to our Los Angeles center, much closer to a Brown Booby’s typical range. With the help of L.A. City Lifeguards, our center manager, Erica Lander, released the booby off the coast. Resident photographer Bill Steinkamp took this great video of the day’s events.

Professional care of birds like this booby is made possible by you. Thanks for your support.

February 5, 2014

Release! Common Loon

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Release photos by Cheryl Patterson; inset photo by Kelly Berry

One of our most recent patients of the week is this Common Loon, which we’re pleased to report is the Los Angeles center’s first loon release of 2014.

The backstory: This loon was found in late December, having crash-landed on Ventura Blvd in Studio City, CA. The animal was brought to California Wildlife Center, where it was hydrated and stabilized before transfer to our aquatic bird specialists.

After several weeks in care, this beautiful loon was released back to the ocean — much more suitable habitat than Ventura Boulevard!

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January 4, 2014

Release! Ruddy Ducks and a Brandt’s Cormorant

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Photos by Paul Berry

Among the recent releases by our Los Angeles team: this Ruddy Duck duo as well as a Brandt’s Cormorant, released past the breakwater at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, CA.

Both of these ducks were found “crash-landed” in Los Angeles — one in the Los Feliz neighborhood, the other in Hollywood. Both animals were also placed on antibiotics for toe lesions suffered from being out of the water, and were released when their wounds had healed and they were deemed healthy.

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The Brant’s Cormorant shown below came to us from Santa Barbara, where it had been found about 40% oiled and with a thin body condition, rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports. The bird was washed a day following intake, and after several weeks of fattening up and healing required for a small wound, we released the cormorant off Cabrillo Beach.

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January 2, 2014

A Red-tailed Hawk readies for reunion with mate

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Photos by Angela Woodside

RTHAIn 2013, both our wildlife centers in California cared for a number of raptors that were either oiled or affected by other substances, such as glue trap material. Though International Bird Rescue primarily cares for aquatic birds, there are times when other animals that fall outside of our usual spectrum of species need our help — including birds of prey.

This beautiful Red-tailed Hawk is an adult female believed to be part of a breeding pair, and was found at Lake Casitas, near Ojai, CA. Following her wash, the hawk was transferred to a partner wildlife organization before being transported to the Ojai Raptor Center, where she is currently living in an outdoor flight aviary.

Update: This hawk was recently released back at the location where she was found. We’re hopeful she will rejoin her mate.

Thank you to Angela Woodside for taking these images of the hawk during the wash process in December.

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November 8, 2013

Burrowing Owl, banded in Bay Area, spotted in Idaho

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Burrowing Owl, photo by Magnus Manske/Wikimedia Commons

As a Master Bander since 1979, I’ve banded a lot of birds — most of them are the aquatic birds that we rehabilitate at our centers in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay. But I also support the local rehabbers when I can by banding birds that they are interested in, and many are raptors. As we all know, Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, CA rehabilitates many animals and has a thriving raptor rehab program. I give them bands for some of the raptors that they release.

One of these raptors is a female Burrowing Owl assumed to be hit by a car in Berkeley, CA that came into care at Lindsay on Nov. 8, 2012 — one year ago today. The bird had various bruises and swelling, and radiographs confirmed a simple, mid-diaphyseal fracture of the left humerus. The fracture was pinned and wrapped, and the bird treated for over a month.

This owl survived her ordeal and made a good recovery. She was released at Cesar Chavez Park, in the Berkeley Marina area, on Dec. 27, 2012 with band number 0614-37468.

Last week, I received a band encounter from the Bird Banding Lab. On June 17, 2013, this bird was discovered alive and healthy by Jamie Groves, a graduate student of raptor biology at Boise State University who is studying Burrowing Owls near Kuna, Idaho, about 500 miles away from the release site. The bird still has her original band on, but Jamie added three color bands to easily identify the owl without having to catch her. Her color bands are: Right Leg: Mauve/Yellow and Left Leg: White/Aluminum Band.

More via Jamie Groves:

I banded this female, as well as her mate and their 7 nestlings (about 4 weeks old at banding). She was nesting in one of the artificial burrows that had been placed in the area some time ago. The nestlings were in really good shape, and from what I recall/see in my notes the female was in great shape as well. The few band-returns we have gotten back are from California, so it seems at least some of our owls like to go to there for the winter.

A big thanks to our friends at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum for their continued compassionate and professional care of our wildlife. And thanks to Jamie for reporting this owl to the banding lab. Much appreciated! —Jay Holcomb

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Burrowing Owl Family in Antioch, CA, 2009. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds/Wikimedia Commons

November 6, 2013

Release! Elegant Tern recuperates after gunshot injury

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We’re happy to report that this Elegant Tern covered recently on the blog has been successfully rehabilitated at our San Francisco Bay center. We released the bird Tuesday afternoon in the East Bay near the location of several recent Elegant Tern sightings via eBird.

Check out the release video below. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds.

 

September 23, 2013

Great Blue Heron released at Ballona Wetlands

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A Great Blue Heron leaping to freedom when released at Ballona Creek, photo by Kylie Clatterbuck

If you love Great Blue Herons, we know you’ll fully appreciate the resiliency of one amazing bird recently in our care.

A few months ago, International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center received a heron with dual misfortunes: It was both oiled and suffering from GHBEsubsequent burns on about 25% of its body.

Our wildlife rehab technician team washed the animal, and our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, surgically repaired the bird’s most severe injury where the skin along its spine was dead and adhered to the spine itself. Surgical procedures were also necessary to heal a wound on the bird’s keel as well as a thigh wound that required debridement to remove dead muscle tissue and a skin graft.

After many weeks of healing, this heron was released at the Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles, home to a wide array of birds, including egrets, grebes and many species of shorebirds. Rehabilitation technician Kylie Clatterbuck reports that the bird was released at a spot in the wetlands where there was another Great Blue Heron nearby, as well as a Great Egret.

Below, you can see this heron in its new habitat, as well as a photo of the bird upon its initial exam at our Los Angeles center.

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Heron release photo by Kylie Clatterbuck; inset photo by Paul Berry

July 6, 2013

Weekend snapshot: Green Heron

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Photo by Michelle Bellizzi

A Green Heron from International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center, released on the Fourth of July!

July 4, 2013

Duckling Independence Day!

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A very Happy Fourth of July to all our bird blog readers!

As you get ready for BBQs and fireworks displays today, we wanted to share a heartwarming story from our Los Angeles wildlife care center team:

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Photo by Jennifer Gummerman

This mother duck arrived on Monday at our L.A. center with her 10 baby ducklings. Earlier, they had been found in a residential area, where one of the ducklings had fallen into a storm drain. Thanks to an animal control officer, the duckling was saved, and the animals were transferred out of this urban area and to our center. Mama duck had very minor wounds to her wrists and her babies were all in good condition, volunteer coordinator and wildlife rehabilitation technician Neil Uelman says. She was placed in this enclosure with her babies to await release.

But there’s another wrinkle to this story: As you can see in the photo above, this duck has a metal federal band. And it was our band! Uelman reports:

The mallard mom was brought to us back on June 2, 2012 for being stuck in an apartment complex with her seven baby ducklings. It was also the same animal control officer that caught her up and brought the duck in with her ducklings that time. I was actually the one to receive this bird at the clinic and to do the intake on the bird that day. She as well as her baby ducklings were all in good condition. We kept her for two days, and then I did the release of her at a nice spot in El Dorado Nature Center.

In the video below, mama duck with this season’s clutch are released at Madrona Marsh Preserve in Torrance. Madrona is the last remaining vernal marsh in Los Angeles County.

Mallard Duckling at SF Bay Center