Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

The Release Files

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 Reynodlss

“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!

March 3, 2015

The Release Files: Bonaparte’s Gull

Bonaparte's Gull takes flight. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Bonaparte’s Gull takes flight in Suisun Marsh. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

We recently returned a Bonaparte’s Gull to the wild after this patient was treated in the midst of the “Mystery Goo Response”.

This Bonaparte’s Gull was introduced as a Patient of the Week December 6, 2014. The bird was found at Silver Oak Winery in Sonoma County, and arrived with a very large laceration exposing its thigh muscles from hip to mid leg (3 inches long on a 120 gram bird!). It also had severe damage to its right foot.

BOGUThe thigh wound was surgically closed. The middle toe was not salvageable and was amputated, while the outer toe had a laceration that was sutured closed, and an injury to the inner toe’s first toe joint was stabilized with a splint for two weeks.

This bird’s injuries were consistent with what we have seen before in birds that have run into razor wire. After two months of treatment, the thigh laceration and foot injuries have healed very nicely and the bird grew new feathers on the new skin at the former thigh wound.

This resilient little gull spent the last few weeks flying and eating very well while growing in new feathers. It was released last month at the Suisun Marina.

– Rebecca Duerr, Staff Veterinarian, International Bird Rescue

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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 4, 2015

Nothing like a bird release to lift the spirits

Surf-Scoter-flies-Mystery-Goo-released-1-4-15-Oakland-webA Surf Scoter flies free at the Oakland Port Wednesday. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Twenty more birds cleaned of the East Bay mystery goo were released Wednesday morning at the Oakland Port.

Dunlins, a shorebird prevalent in San Francisco Bay, is released in Oakland.

Dunlins, a shorebird prevalent in San Francisco Bay, is released in Oakland.

“There’s nothing like a bird release to lift the spirits,” said Russ Curtis, spokesperson for International Bird Rescue. “Our reward is seeing these beautiful, clean birds returned to their natural habitat in good health.”

This is the first release in the East Bay where nearly 3 weeks ago hundreds of birds were rescued coated with a sticky, unknown contaminant. The birds were released along the sand dunes at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park at the Oakland Port.

With this release, the total of birds returned to the wild is now 101. More than 110 birds still remain in care at our San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield, CA.

Among those released: 11 Surf Scoters, 4 Dunlins, 4 Western Sandpipers, and 1 Eared Grebe.

The mystery goo event began on January 16, 2015, when staff members at the East Bay Regional Park District began rescuing seabirds beached on local shores and covered in a thick substance. The affected birds lost their critical ability to stay waterproof in the cool San Francisco Bay waters.

Over the last several weeks each of the birds was medically stabilized and then washed using a combination of baking soda and vinegar, followed by washing with Dawn dishwashing soap.

To date, 323 birds were delivered to our center. 110 where DOA or died in care. Another 170 birds were collected dead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

State and private labs are still testing the goo feather samples. Earlier testing ruled out petroleum products as the culprit. See: Scientists Struggle to Identify Gooey Substance, Planet Experts

Since there is no responsible party to pay for this response, International Bird Rescue is shouldering the complete cost of caring for these seabirds. Donations are always appreciated.

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Some of our volunteers, Marge Elliott, left, and Julia Winiarski, carry birds to release site.

February 1, 2015

132 seabirds, once covered in goo, still need your help

Photo of Surf Scoter release mystery goo 2015 response

Clean release: First 24 birds, including Surf Scoters, were released at Fort Baker on January 28th. Photo by Russ Curtis

Dear friends,

On behalf of my entire team, I’d like to thank all of you for supporting our work rescuing hundreds of seabirds affected by the San Francisco mystery goo. From our volunteers and supporters to the general public and the media, we’ve been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support for the care of these birds.

Though we’ve been thrilled to release 81 healthy seabirds thus far back into the wild, we still have 132 birds in care that will need many more days of support at our San Francisco Bay center. The testing of goo-covered feathers continues at government and private laboratories. But the substance remains a mystery.

SOS-Greater-Scaup-mystery-event-2015-CRAnd our bills for these animals, as well as non-“gooed” wild birds in our care for other injuries, continue to mount. The more time passes, the less likely that a culprit behind the dumping of this substance (if it is indeed manmade) will be found and held financially accountable. It’s people like you who have sustained us. If you haven’t yet donated and are wondering if we still need your support, the answer is Yes.

This all started on January 16, 2015, when our colleagues at East Bay Regional Park District began seeing several species of seabirds beached on local shores and covered in a thick substance. The birds had lost their critical ability to stay waterproof in the cold San Francisco Bay waters.

Photo of incoming Bufflehead

Bufflehead coated in the mystery goo. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Each of the birds was medically stabilized and then washed using a combination of baking soda and vinegar, followed by washing with Dawn detergent.

To date, 323 birds were delivered to our center. Another 151 birds were collected dead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

Our staff and more than 300 volunteers worked overtime to give these birds the best chance possible to survive. If you haven’t already, please consider supporting our work. Because this was not a spill caused by an identifiable company or party, we are have been shouldering all the costs regarding this mystery event.

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Flotilla of Surf Scoters are among the 132 birds still in care.

Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated. The care of these birds, including Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Common Goldeneyes and Scaups, is lengthy and expensive. View our BirdCam

With your support we are committed as ever, to ensuring “Every Bird Matters”.

Sincerely,

Barbara Signature

 

 

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

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Shorebirds, cleaned of goo, were some of our smallest patients. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

December 23, 2014

Release! A Brown Booby takes flight from Southern California

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BRBOPhoto by Kelly Berry

Release snapshot: A wayward Brown Booby — found injured in Alaska, nearly 3,000 miles from its range — is released in Southern California on December 22.

Many thanks to our friends at the Alaska Raptor Center and Alaska Airlines for assisting in the care and transport of this remarkable bird.

August 26, 2014

Released! White-faced Ibis

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

WFIBThe White-faced Ibis who graced our online birdcam has been released!

As you may remember, this juvenile bird was found near Natomas, CA with a broken wing and brought to an animal shelter on July 27 before transfer to our San Francisco Bay center. Diagnosis: a fractured radius and ulna.

Our staff veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, pinned the injury, and this patient graduated through several enclosures at the center before release in local wetlands (see release photo below).

This is the first grown ibis we’ve worked with in quite some time. But we’ve had plenty of experience with baby ibises: In 2007, a White-faced Ibis colony in a Sacramento Valley rice field was disturbed, leading us to care for 78 live babies and 100 eggs.Read about this story via our archives.

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August 1, 2014

Wading birds find a new home in the Ballona Wetlands

GBH-3Our colleagues at Friends of Ballona Creek recently profiled some of our patients at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center and their triumphant release at Ballona Freshwater Marsh, a critical ecosystem of the Los Angeles basin.

Via Mychel Bradley:

July has definitely been a month of independence for the beautiful birds of Ballona Wetlands. Over the last few weeks, Friends of Ballona Wetlands staff have released four rehabilitated herons – one juvenile great blue heron, two snowy egrets, and one juvenile black-crowned night heron – into the thriving and abundant habitat of the freshwater marsh.

Bird releases are special moments for those who work towards protecting the health of the birds and their habitats, but they can be very scary moments for many birds. It’s important to understand all of the sensory changes a wild animal experiences as it returns to its habitat. Read more here via Friends of Ballona Creek…

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 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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March 10, 2014

Release! Rhinoceros Auklets, Glaucous-winged Gull and a Common Murre

Rhinocerous Auklet at SF Bay Center banded for release
Rhinoceros Auklet in breeding plumage, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Residents of the North Pacific, Rhinoceros Auklets are also known as “Unicorn Puffins” for the small horn extension on their beaks, present in both males and females during breeding season. We’ve had two of these birds in care at our San Francisco Bay center for several weeks.

One of these birds was suffering from a wing injury, while the other was emaciated upon intake. Both had been part of our “seabird menagerie” on BirdCam, and were released over the weekend near Half Moon Bay where they were originally found. Below, volunteer Colin Pierce does the release honors.

Rhinocerous Auklet at SF Bay Center banded for release
Rhinoceros Auklet in non-breeding plumage, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

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Also on the release docket: this first-winter plumage Glaucous-winged Gull, healed after a fractured radius, and a beautiful Common Murre!

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Common Murre at SF Bay Center ready for release

Common Murre at SF Bay Center banded for release  Murre Release

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 13, 2014

Release! American Wigeon

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Last month, this American Wigeon was found on bustling Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles — hardly a suitable habitat for a dabbling duck.

After several weeks in care, we released this wigeon at El Dorado Regional Park in nearby Long Beach. Volunteer photographer Bill Steinkamp was on hand to film the big day.

Related: Patient of the week: American Wigeon

American Wigeon profile on AllAboutBirds.org

Photos and video by Bill Steinkamp

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