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The Release Files

September 8, 2017

The Release Files: Brown Pelican Recovers From Horrendous Pouch Injury

Brown Pelican out in the aviary after healing from massive pouch and bill trauma. Photo by Katrina Plummer

Remember this Brown Pelican with the monstrous pouch injury we posted earlier this summer? We have good news: The bird recovered and was released after major surgery and weeks of specialized care.

The original injury to this young Brown Pelican mid-July, 2017.

On July 16 2017, a kind-hearted person in Huntington Beach, CA rescued a young Brown Pelican with a horrendous wound. The poor bird’s pouch was completely ripped open, rendering him unable to eat. They brought the starving bird to Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach where he was treated for a few days before being transferred to our Los Angeles Wildlife Center in San Pedro, CA.

We found that the entire left side of the bird’s pouch was shredded and the loose dangling flaps of tissue were bruised and swollen from the rude and painful interruption to their blood supply. The bird also was found to have two separate problems with its bill—the upper bill was partially fractured longitudinally half way along its length while the left mandible was completely fractured back by the jaw joint. Our staff splinted the fractures and stapled the tissue in place temporarily so the bird could eat while getting stronger before what would be a very long surgery.

A few days later, our vet decided the splint was sufficient for the upper bill break but the mandible fracture needed to be pinned. Pelicans have unusual bone texture where the bones have huge interior air spaces and extremely thin but strong outer walls. The outer bone wall is so thin that the threaded orthopedic screws usually used to pin bird bones don’t work. So our vet used something rather akin to an abstract work of art called a “spider fixator” to provide stability. Next, she tackled the long process of suturing the pouch back together. Pelican pouch has very fine stripes that run parallel to the jaw that can tell us how ripped pieces are supposed to fit together. Once all the stripes of the shreds were lined up, it became clear that there were really three long straight parallel cuts with the tissue between the cuts ripped free. This suggests the injury may have been caused by a boat propeller.

After the feisty bird had all of his sutures and pins removed, the pelican spent a few weeks in our large flight aviary getting some exercise before we set him free! He is now sporting big blue band “N75,” so keep your eyes out for him flying the coast.

Every Pelican matters and we so appreciate the public’s support of our efforts.

View inside Brown Pelican’s pouch after removal of pouch repair sutures, with major parts labeled! Check out the new blood vessels he grew to supply the ripped area.

Out in the aviary Aug 24, 2017, healing like a champ.

 

July 29, 2017

The Release Files: Partnership Helps Egrets and Herons Fly Free

Snowy Egret released at MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline Park in Oakland, CA. Photo by Ilana DeBare, Golden Gate Audubon Society

This week we celebrate the partnership that helped rescue and release 20 Egrets and Herons in Oakland, CA. Among the bunch, a Black-crowned Night-Heron that came into International Bird Rescue with a broken leg after a tree split in two June 19th in downtown Oakland.

The Snowy Egrets and Black-crowned Night-Herons were set free at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park with the help of our partners from the Golden Gate Audubon Society and the Oakland Zoo.

Two Black-crowned Night-Herons peek out of transport cage before taking flight. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds, International Bird Rescue

“Today, I saw the culmination of a near-perfect partnership! Last year, our friends at Golden Gate Audubon and Oakland Zoo came together to monitor the downtown Oakland rookery and provide urgent stabilizing care,” said JD Bergeron, Executive Director of Bird Rescue. “This resulted in quicker response times for fallen chicks and better outcomes once they arrived at our wildlife center for rehabilitation.”

“Building on the success of last year, our three organizations rescued even more birds this year. It feels great to see off this many young herons and egrets back into the wild,” added Bergeron. “It’s quite a moving experience for everyone involved. And all this in front of volunteers, new and old, and the media — it’s so encouraging to see everyone coming together to do the right thing for the environment and our fellow inhabitants of this little blue planet.”

Many of the rescued birds were residents of the Bay Area’s largest heron rookery. It’s located near busy streets in a downtown Oakland. It has been the scene of several rescues of baby herons falling to the ground during the nesting season. The young birds were transported to Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center where they are treated for stress and injuries.

“Baby herons and egrets are among our neediest patients,” said Bergeron. “They eat expensive feeder fish and require a variety of cages and specialized care over the course of six or seven weeks. At a cost of about $18 per day for a healthy baby and twice that for an injured one, this can really add up!”

Media Reports

East Bay Times:  Herons and egrets, rescued in downtown Oakland, take flight

ABC-TV: Egrets, Herons nest in wetlands in Oakland 

Snowy Egrets after being set free in Oakland, CA. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds, International Bird Rescue

 

March 30, 2017

The Release Files: Common Loon

This beautiful Common Loon was picked up from Seacliff State Beach in Aptos and brought to Native Animal Rescue of Santa Cruz County on March 4, 2017.

She was found to be thin with a small wound where her beak comes together and some toe abrasions.

We took radiographs (x-rays) to rule out hook ingestion (since mouth wounds can be caused by swallowing fishing gear) and fortunately they were negative. She waterproofed quickly but was having some issues thermoregulating, so we monitored her closely and after a few days she was living out in the pool full time and was eating very well!

She was released on March 22. Kudos to everyone who was involved in her recovery!

Photo by staffer Jennifer Linander

 

January 3, 2017

The Release Files: Entangled Pelican rescued and returned to the wild

After three months of care, X34 was released back to the wild. Photo by Jennifer Linander – International Bird Rescue

Thanks to two of our volunteers, a fishing line entangled Brown Pelican is alive, well, and back in the wild.

Last September, two of our long-time transport volunteers, Joan Teitler and Larry Bidinian, who live down in Santa Cruz, were visiting Scott Creek Beach when they saw an animal in need. Of course, once an animal rescuer, it’s hard not to find animals in need of rescuing!

Joan and Larry sighted an entangled Brown Pelican, and with much patience, were able to catch the bird. After spending a day at Native Animal Rescue (NAR) in Santa Cruz, the bird was brought to our San Francisco Bay Area Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for care. He had wounds on both of his wings and on his right leg from being entangled in the fishing line.

The wing wounds healed quickly, but the wound on his right leg became severely infected, as such injuries often do. He had a large abscess running from mid-leg down to and around the bottom of his foot and down his outermost toe. Our vet had to surgically open it up and flush it out to manage the infection. She even put in a drain (drains are usually not needed when treating birds). It took three surgeries and more than a month of wound care before the injuries and infection were resolved.

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Our vet had to amputate part of the Pelican’s toe that had been too damaged by an abscess. Photo by Rebecca Duerr – International Bird Rescue

After an entire month of being “dry-docked” for wound management and wraps, he was able to start living out in our Pelican Aviary. He needed to have a final surgery to amputate part of the toe that had been too damaged by the abscess, but it healed great. We have had many re-sightings of pelicans with similar toe amputations in the past, so we were confident this would not affect his successful to return to the wild.

We are very happy to report that this bird was finally released at Fort Baker December 11, 2016 – after more than 3 months in care! He is sporting blue band X34.

He was released with his aviary buddy X33 – a female pelican who was rescued thin and freezing cold on September 12, at Stinson Beach. X33 was brought to WildCare in San Rafael where they stabilized her and transferred her to us a few days later. She was living in our pelican aviary for a while, and had put on a good amount of weight, but wasn’t flying very well initially. However, once X34 started living in the aviary alongside her, he would fly around and she started flying after him! They would always hang out together and whenever he flew somewhere, she would follow. Fortunately, they were both ready to release at the same time so they were released as a pair.

Don’t be surprised if these two are sighted together later—we have previously had aviary buddies who were released together sighted hanging out at the same location years later!

Keep your eye out for these two, and if you see them or any of our other former patients sporting blue plastic bands, please report them through our online reporting form.

Also: Learn more about Bird Rescue’s Pelican Blue Banding Program

 

December 23, 2016

Success Stories: Snowy Egret #A09

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Released in 2012, this Snowy Egret was spotted, photographed and reported this month by Leslie DeFacio.

One of the biggest rewards of working in wildlife rehabilitation is seeing treated birds released back to the wild. The one thing better is learning that these patients are now thriving back in nature.

This holiday season at International Bird Rescue one particular bird brings us further joy. A Snowy Egret released in 2012 was spotted in the San Francisco Bay Area this month by bird enthusiast Leslie DeFacio of Alameda, CA. She reported the bird as active, wading, walking, pivoting, flying, and overall very healthy looking.

This Egret was treated at our San Francisco wildlife rehabilitation center back in May of 2012, after being rescued after falling from the nest at West 9th Street rookery in Santa Rosa, CA. After providing supportive nutritional care and treatment for a minor elbow wound, it was released in June of 2012 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline Park in Oakland. Before release it was banded with red band number A09.

Flighted Snowy Egret A09 at Bay Farm Island. Photo by Leslie DeFacio

DeFacio submitted an online bird banded report that indicated the Egret was seen at Bay Farm Island, Shoreline Park in Alameda – not far from the release location in 2012. It was seen with 4 – 6 other Snowy Egrets foraging/feeding at sunset along the shoreline of the San Leandro Channel. This Egret has also been spotted and reported multiple times in 2015 – most recently in April 2016 by avid birder Cindy Margulis, Executive Director, of the Golden Gate Audubon Society.

Tracking rescued and rehabilitated birds after release provides us with valuable information. Before release we secure ID markers-loose, non-obstructive, plastic and/or metal bands-around one or both legs. These enable us to gather data on returning patients, live sightings, breeding success, travel patterns, and life span.

At Bird Rescue we add our own special colored bands to certain bird species: Red bands for Snowy Egrets, white bands for Black-Crowned Night-Herons and the blue bands for Brown Pelicans. You can learn more about the banding program here: https://www.bird-rescue.org/our-work/research-and-education/banding-program.aspx

Since 2009 our citizen science project relies on the public to spot and report these banded aquatic birds that have been banded with special colored bands. If you see a banded bird, please report it here: https://www.bird-rescue.org/contact/found-a-bird/reporting-a-banded-bird.aspx

Thanks again to Leslie DeFacio and Cindy Margulis for submitting this important location data on A09. With the public’s help we expect to see more of these success stories in the future.

A09 Snowy egret was also photographed and reported in Alameda in April 2016. Photo by Cindy Margulis

Snowy Egret A09 was also photographed in Alameda, CA and reported in April 2016. Photo by Cindy Margulis

September 18, 2016

The Release Files: Pelican’s Slashed Pouch Ends On A Happy Note

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With her N41 blue band (inset photo), a healed Brown Pelican returns to the wild after being treated for a slashed pouch and leg injury. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck/International Bird Rescue

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Massive pouch laceration prior to surgical preparation. The bottom half of the pouch has been completely severed from the bird’s jaw. The white tube is delivering anesthetic gas to the bird’s trachea. Photo by Bill Steinkamp

Earlier this summer, our Los Angeles wildlife center received a female Brown Pelican from Ventura Harbor with injuries consistent with being slashed by a sharp object, very reminiscent of the injuries of Pink the Pelican, a case of ours from 2014. We reported the bird to US Fish and Wildlife Service as a likely animal cruelty case.

This new bird had a completely severed pouch, with straight cuts all the way back to behind her eyes on both sides (see image). She also had a razor-straight laceration on her right leg that cut deep into the muscle, but she was still able to stand and was in generally good condition. Like Pink, her pouch was stapled together temporarily so she could eat and regain her strength before surgery. It was repaired in one long surgical procedure instead of two as Pink’s was because the injury was, inches-wise, smaller than Pink’s– the bird was smaller overall, and the cut was angled through the pouch differently. The leg laceration was already infected when the bird arrived, but healed great with a combination of partial surgical closure and open wound management. The pouch repair healed fabulously in about two weeks.

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The severly slashed pouch was carefully sutured back together. Photo by Bill Steinkamp

Whenever one is keeping a wild animal in a cage there is a risk every day that the animal will hurt itself. When an animal nears readiness to be released it becomes more active and eager to get out, and the probability that it may hurt itself in its caging rises. This particular bird was very stressed in captivity, and was noticed to be limping one morning. At first we assumed her slashed leg was becoming infected again, but we quickly saw that the leg she was favoring was her formerly uninjured leg…uh oh! X-rays revealed that she had broken her femur near her hip joint while in the aviary. We don’t know how it happened or whether we could have done anything to prevent it, but this accident set the bird’s potential release date back substantially. She spent several weeks floating quietly in a private pool while her leg healed, which it did, and nicely, although when she first started walking again she had a very pronounced limp. Since then she has been becoming increasingly annoyed with us as we have waited for her limp to resolve sufficiently for her to be released. Currently, she is a super agile flier and stands and perches very normally, although she still has a mild limp when she walks; we expect this will fade with time as her fracture healed with excellent alignment.

We are extremely happy to announce that this beautiful girl who faced multiple serious threats to her life was finally released! With her shiny new blue plastic band N41, she returned to the wild on Saturday, September 17th at White Point in San Pedro. Please cheer her on if you see her out fishing off the coast. And also please report the sighting on our website so we can know she is out there doing well, back being a wild Brown Pelican.

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Pelican after slashed pouch was stitched back up.  Photo by Rebecca Duerr/International Bird Rescue

N41 Ready for Take-Off

N41 ready for take-off. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck

August 26, 2016

American White Pelican Out of Trouble

American White Pelican

American White Pelican released at McNabney Marsh, Martinez. This bird came to us with two broken legs, but has since recovered from surgery, ready for the wild! Photo: Cheryl Reynolds

Great news! The American White Pelican reported in our July 26 blog post successfully recovered from his two leg fractures and was released Aug 22 in McNabney Marsh in Martinez, CA.

When the cage was opened, he calmly walked out and took his time walking over to the water. We watched an interesting display of pelican thought processes as he decided what to do next. He first looked at a large group of his species resting on the shore far away, and then a smaller group closer to us that were in the water feeding. He took one last look back at us then entered the water and swam a small distance, next thing we knew he was taking flight towards the small feeding group. After landing in the water he calmly swam up to them and immediately started enjoying his first self-caught meal in more than a month. We could not have asked for a more perfect release of this bird back into the wild!

American White Pelican

American White Pelican “Double Trouble” taking flight to join a small group of his species. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds

Note from Dr Rebecca Duerr:

The highlight of August for me was this release! The care of this single bird really exemplified the nature of everything we do for thousands of birds every year, requiring a tremendous and coordinated effort among all the bird’s caregivers in order for him to make it to release. Every aspect of his care from housing and feeding decisions and delivery, to anesthesia, surgery, and medication administration, to assuring nothing bad happened during his time in private pools or the pelican aviary, to the funding that paid for it all, was absolutely essential for getting this guy out the door.

Having worked in wildlife rehabilitation for nearly 30 years, I have a really solid appreciation that pretty much everything I am able to do surgically for our birds is dependent on the efforts of everyone else; the fanciest surgery is totally pointless without the rest. Consequently, I’d like to personally say thank you to everyone who had a hand in this guy’s and every other bird’s care! Great teamwork all around! Thank you for being willing to go the extra mile for our patients.

You can read more about his care here: http://blog.bird-rescue.org/index.php/2016/07/patient-of-the-week-double-trouble-american-white-pelican/

How did you help a bird today?

American White Pelican standing on exam table during a check-up. Both external fixators are visible; they are made of steel pins that pass through the bone and a combination of metal and epoxy that holds the external portions of the pins in the correct position. The odd shapes are due to the shapes of pelican legs, each fracture's different need for support, and the need for the bird to be able to both stand and crouch comfortably.

In July the American White Pelican had external fixators attached made of steel pins that pass through the bone and a combination of metal and epoxy that holds the external portions of the pins in the correct position.

June 3, 2016

The Release Files: Fare thee well, Great Blue!

An adult Great Blue Heron came to us from Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz after being found April 14 hanging from its right wing by fishing line. On arrival the bird had substantial skin damage and edema midway out the wingtip, and the bones felt possibly fractured under the swelling. We splinted and wrapped the wing for support to make the bird more comfortable, and scheduled x-rays for a few days later when the bird was more stable.

The x-ray showed the wingtip had not been fractured – but rather had ligament and bone damage at one of the two wingtip joints. Over the next week the edema resolved but the skin crossing the wing tip joint necrosed (died), leaving defects in skin coverage and an infected joint. Also the bird’s primary flight feathers were damaged and severely crimped which put them at high risk of breaking. With all the bird’s issues it was not looking good for this bird ever flying again.

In treatment we used a feather repair method where the feathers are soaked in extremely hot water to soften them. Then our staff veterinarian ‘ironed’ the feathers to reshape the crimped zones and thus restore the feather’s normal shape.

The skin and joint injuries were more complicated. Our vet treated the heron by surgically removing dead tissue and closing the main defect with adjacent skin. Another area of skin necrosis that exposed the infected joint itself was debrided, flushed, infused with an injectable antibiotic, and managed as an open wound.

The wingtip injuries finally and completely healed as of earlier this week, and we were at last confident the bird was out of the woods. So, with great pleasure, we released this gorgeous Great Blue Heron this week and watched it gracefully fly into the marsh!

 Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

 

March 30, 2016

Release Files: A Tale of Two Pelicans

Brown Pelicans N32 and N33 about to take off after being released at White's Point.

Brown Pelicans N32 and N33 about to take off after being released at White’s Point by Dr. Rebecca Duerr.

The tale of two recent pelican patients gives you a peek in to International Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation program:

A female Brown Pelican N33 was rescued in San Pedro, CA with a large neck abscess, likely caused by a fish hook. The infection wrapped around the back of her neck, digging deep into her neck muscles. Our veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr, anesthetized her to remove all the necrotic (dead) material from the abscess, and the wound required several weeks of intensive wound management by our LA center staff.

See the before and after images (below) – warning: the ‘before’ picture is a bit graphic! But these are the sort of wounds we successfully treat every day. We are very happy to report that the wound healed beautifully, and she was ready to be released with her aviary buddy N32.

The next Brown Pelican N32 entered care June 14, 2015 after being found on the streets of Long Beach by LB Animal Control. After a full examination, we determined she was suffering from a facial neuropathy. She had little to no control over her lower eyelids, pouch or mandible muscles, showing a floppy pouch, droopy eyelids, and the inability to fully close her mouth. We knew we couldn’t release a Brown Pelican who was unable to control her mouth – to catch dinner, they have to hit the water mouth first at high speed!

The cause of the pelican’s problem remains unknown but we suspect a toxin of some kind, such as from some species of marine algae. Improvement was very slow but steady, and it took lots of time and patience until she regained the ability to control those areas of her body. After nine months in care we determined she had fully recovered and was ready to go!

Both birds were released March 14, 2016 at White’s Point in San Pedro and flew off strongly. They circled around their caregivers a few times before landing one on the reef and one on the water offshore.

Please support Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation programs. With your generous gift we can continue to treat each pelican with the medical, surgical, and nursing care it needs to have a second chance at a vibrant life in the wild. We love Pelicans!

Brown Pelican N33's nasty neck wound early in treatment.

Brown Pelican N33’s nasty neck wound early in treatment.

Brown Pelican N33's healed neck wound just before she was released.

Brown Pelican N33’s healed neck wound just before she was released.

November 6, 2015

Patient of the Week: Red-throated Loon

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This lucky loon recently made an unscheduled emergency landing on a Long Beach Airport runway. The Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) is now in care at our Los Angeles Center in San Pedro.

The bird was found and captured at the busy airport on October 21, 2015. It was reported by airport workers to be dazed and confused. Upon intake the bird was given a full exam and and was found to be severely emaciated with some minor toe abrasions.

Since arrival 15 days ago, the hungry loon has gained 200 grams. Its now living full time in one our pelagic pools and eating lots of fish. This bird is very active in the pool diving a lot as well as vocalizing.

Red-throated Loons is among the smallest and lightest of loons. Its breeding plumage is more blackish-brown and includes a striking deep red throat. In non-breeding plumage (current patient), it is mainly light gray with a speckle of white.

In North America, this loon species winters along both coasts – ranging as far south as the Baja California Peninsula and the Gulf of California in northwestern Mexico. In other parts of the world, its known as the Red-throated Diver.

Photo by Jeanette Bates – International Bird Rescue

 

October 25, 2015

The Release Files: Common Murres

Ten more healthy Common Murres returned home this week. The seabirds were among hundreds of beached murres that have been rescued along the Northern California coast. They were released on October 23rd at Fort Baker in Sausalito, CA.

Photo Common Murres

Common Murres await release back to the wild. Photo by Elizabeth Russell

The hungry, exhausted murres – a diving seabird that looks a lot like a penguin – seem to be affected by the changing marine environment. Ocean water temperatures have risen along California and scientists believe that warmer currents associated with El Niño weather pattern may be to blame. As fish head for cooler water, the foraging birds may find a meal harder to reach.

Since July 1st a total of 468 murres have been delivered to our clinic. In October alone we’ve received 100+ new patients. Usually this time of the year we receive about 10 of this species each month. See earlier post

Bird Rescue has received seabirds from Monterey to Mendocino. The center which is located in Fairfield has deep above ground pelagic pools to allow the murres to swim, eat and gain their strength back.

Similar strandings with murres and other pelagic seabirds have been reported from Oregon to Alaska.

You can support the care of these seabirds by adopting: http://bird-rescue.org/adopt-murre

Media reports

10 birds return to San Francisco Bay after month-long rehab: ABC7-TV

Bird Rescue Center Releases Rehabilitated Seabirds: Getty Images

Biologists work to save massive number of sick sea birds: KTVU 2-TV

Along the Pacific Coast, a seabird is starving — and we don’t know why: PRI Radio

 

October 12, 2015

The Release Files: Masked Booby

Photo Masked Booby and Red-Footed Booby at International Bird Rescue

Masked Booby, left, stretches its wings before being released – a Red-footed Booby waits its turn. Photos by Bill Steinkamp

The wayward Masked Booby is back in the wild. It was released at White Point in San Pedro after about a week in care. The Booby was originally found in Newport, Oregon and then flown from Portland to Los Angeles after wildlife officials contacted our Southern California center.

Masked Boobies are tropical birds and its very unusual to see this species in Southern California let alone along the Oregon coast. Read earlier post: We Love Boobies!

Photos by Bill Steinkamp

Photo Masked Booby exam at International Bird Rescue

Photo Masked Booby release

Photo of Masked Booby release at White Point, San Pedro by International Bird Rescue

September 10, 2015

The Release Files: Snowy Egrets

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Two Snowy Egrets were released back to the wild this week by IBR staff and volunteers at Ballona Wetlands in Playa del Rey, CA. One of the birds had a toe amputation and required extra care the other was a short term patient. Thanks to Doug Carter for the wonder photos.

Love Snowy Egrets? You can symbolically adopt one through our bird adoption program: http://bird-rescue.org/adopt-snowy-egret.aspx

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August 20, 2015

The Release Files: Brown Pelican from Refugio Oil Spill

Photo of Brown Pelican release

Brown Pelican z44 was released at White Point Beach. Photo by Bill Steinkamp

Photo of Pelican exam

Kelly Berry, IBR Los Angeles Center manager, gives Z44 a final exam.

One of the last oiled Brown Pelicans rehabilitated after being rescued at the Refugio Oil Spill was released this week.

Banded with special green Z44 leg band, the Pelican was returned to the wild on Tuesday, August 18th at White Point Beach in San Pedro, CA.

Originally banded as W19, was transferred to us on July 7th covered in oil from the May 19th spill in Santa Barbara County. After washing the bird, an abscess was found on its chest that required surgery to remove.

More than 50 oiled birds – mainly Brown Pelicans – were cared for at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center located in San Pedro.

Read: Oil Spill Over, But Animal Care Continues by Kelly Berry, IBR’s Manger at the Los Angeles Center

Special green Z leg bands will help researchers track Refugio spill birds.

Special green Z leg bands will help researchers track Refugio spill birds.

IBR was activated as a proud member of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN). Staff and volunteers helped rescue, treat and wash the birds clean of oil. See an earlier post

The birds were oiled in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties after an oil pipeline break spilled more than 100,000 gallons of crude at Refugio State Beach about 20 miles from the city of Santa Barbara.

A total of 252 oiled seabirds were collected. This includes 57 live oiled birds and 195 birds that were found dead. More info

Photos by Bill Steinkamp

Released Pelican join other seabirds – including Cormorants – on rocks off White

Released Pelican joins other seabirds – including Cormorants – on rocks off White Point Beach. Photo by Bill Steinkamp

July 28, 2015

The Weekly Bittern #2: COME and go HOME

Dear Friends of International Bird Rescue–

Did you see Jurassic World yet? In the film, there are four Velociraptors that are shown as fast and savage hunters. Allow me to introduce International Bird Rescue’s very Common Merganser chicks in care at SF Bay Center 7/16/15own “Velociraptors”–a set of four baby Common Mergansers that clearly demonstrated in their feeding habits how they are descended from the dinosaurs! Over the past couple of weeks, I liked watching them during feedings as they swam along the surface with their heads submerged to find the minnows below, then darted underwater to torpedo at one or a few.

According to our friends at AllAboutBirds.org by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
Common Mergansers are streamlined ducks that float gracefully down small rivers or shallow shorelines. The males are striking with clean white bodies, dark green heads, and a slender, serrated red bill. The elegant gray-bodied females have rich, cinnamon heads with a short crest. In summer, look for them leading ducklings from eddy to eddy along streams or standing on a flat rock in the middle of the current. These large ducks nest in hollow trees; in winter they form flocks on larger bodies of water.

These orphans arrived from San Jose and Sonoma in May and spent the last 2-1/2 months in the capable care of our SF Bay Wildlife Center in Fairfield. I am happy to announce that all four were released at the American River in Sacramento last Friday. We were happy to be able to stablize these orphans and raise them to strong sub-adults that were able to be successfully released to their new home.

Common Mergansers are abbreviated as “COME” using the first two letters of each word, hence the title of this post. You can support Mergansers and other interesting diving ducks with a donation at www.bird-rescue.org/donate.

We love to hear from you, so please get in touch with your questions about Common Mergansers. We’ll post our replies on our Facebook page.

Be well,

JD-Bergeron_signature-web

 

 

 

JD Bergeron
Executive Director

Video credit: Jen Linander
Photo credit: Cheryl Reynolds