Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue


October 23, 2014

Sponsored: Long-billed Dowitcher


Thanks so much to our friends at Dowitcher Designs in Santa Barbara, CA for sponsoring the care of this injured Long-billed Dowitcher! The bird has healed and will be up for release soon! www.dowitcherdesigns.com

Own a business? Interested in sponsoring a wild bird patient? Email us and let’s get started!

June 26, 2014

Patient of the week: Baby Pied-billed Grebe

"Pied-Billed Grebe 14-2060 chick in care at SF Bay Center"
Photos by Cheryl Reynolds PBGR

This week, International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center received its first Pied-billed Grebe chick of the year.

Weighing about as much as eight pennies upon intake, the tiny bird was found alone at Riverfront Regional Park in Windsor, CA and transferred to us by our partners at the Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa.

We’re feeding this orphan plenty of fish every half hour in our intensive care unit and have administered antibiotics.

An adult Pied-billed Grebe was a patient of the week back in March. Check out what these birds look like all grown up here.

"Pied-Billed Grebe 14-2060 chick in care at SF Bay Center"

"Pied-Billed Grebe 14-2060 chick in care at SF Bay Center"

June 19, 2014

#TBT: Jay saving birds during the 2002 Prestige Spill in Spain


You can leave a remembrance of Jay here. Details on a memorial event will be announced soon.

May 17, 2014

Save the date! Alex and Ani is throwing a charity event for us on June 5…

Click invite to enlarge

Our friends at Alex and Ani in the San Francisco Bay Area saw the recent baby heron story, as well as news about the sheer number of baby animals in our care, and knew they wanted to help.

On Thursday, June 5, Alex and Ani’s new Emeryville location will be hosting a Charity by Design event with proceeds benefiting International Bird Rescue. Stop by and say hi! There will be plenty of lite bites, refreshments and great info on what we do to save wildlife. 15% of all sales will go directly to benefit our efforts.

See you there!

View Larger Map

January 21, 2014

Remembering Molly Richardson

Molly RichardsonOne of our fellow wildlife champions passed over the weekend. Molly Richardson of Native Animal Rescue (NAR) in the Live Oak area of Santa Cruz County died at the age of 85.

Molly was the “patron saint of the county’s sick, injured and abandoned wildlife,” according to an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper.

“A native of India who came to America by way of New Zealand, Richardson settled in Pacific Grove, where she was a school teacher. But her retirement and a move to Live Oak would bring a second career, converting a home into a hub for Native Animal Rescue, a network of big-hearted and often brave volunteers nursing pelicans, song birds, raccoons, possums, bats, foxes and even skunks back to health.”

NAR under Molly’s direction was often the first responder to helping rescue injured and sick Brown Pelicans in the Santa Cruz/Monterey areas. She and her team would stabilize the birds and often arrange transportation to our San Francisco Bay Center.

Thank you, Molly, for giving all animals a much-needed voice in this world. We follow your example every day.

December 11, 2013

24-hour match: Your gift feeds twice as many baby birds today!


Dear Friend,

Encountering a baby bird in the care of International Bird Rescue’s wildlife centers is a bittersweet experience: Here’s a beautiful new life, but one that now must survive without its parents.

These animals always inspire us, and we often hear how they inspire you too. “I read about what you are doing and it just touches my heart,” a woman named Julie recently wrote to us. “I’m on social security, I don’t have a leg, and they just raised my rent. Maybe things will get better. You never know.”

Despite her hard times, Julie found it in her heart to send what she could — a small amount that speaks volumes about her support for wildlife. We were bowled over by her spirit of generosity.

Thanks to an angel donor, Julie’s gift will be doubled today, as well as your gift to save orphaned and other wild birds. Your support during this critical time is most appreciated.

If you’ve already given this year, thank you so very much. In just a few months, these precious young birds will arrive at our doorstep — by the hundreds. They come to us for any numberKilldeer, chick IMG_5128 copy-M of reasons. Mother ducks get hit by a car or separated by busy roadways. Fledging egrets fall from nests in trees high above traffic medians. Whatever the species, we treat all these baby birds with the expert care and reverence they deserve. Will you help these animals today?

We’re proud to say that we give countless orphaned birds a second chance with food and medical care. We minimize human interaction and place the birds with surrogate parents or other orphans of the same species to ensure the best possible chance for successful reintroduction into nature — always our bottom-line goal.

Every orphaned bird has a story. With your help, we can give that story the happy ending it deserves.

Best wishes this holiday season,

Jay Holcomb-Signature

Jay Holcomb
Executive Director

P.S. – Prefer to give over the phone? Call us at 510-289-1472 and we’ll handle your gift right away.

International Bird Rescue is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax ID: 94-1739027

December 10, 2013

Shop Amazon, help birds

Amazon-Smile DSC_0112-M

Good news! International Bird Rescue is now a featured charity in the AmazonSmile program, which donates a portion of your purchases to nonprofits.

Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to International Bird Rescue whenever you shop on AmazonSmile, which has the same products and services as offered by Amazon.com.

If you are an Amazon aficionado, you may want to also check out our Amazon.com Wish Lists, which feature a wide variety of products we depend upon every day. You can choose from our Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay center Wish Lists.

Every donation matters! Thank you so much for your support!

November 28, 2013

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving

Photo of Sandhill Cranes

Photo: Sandhill Cranes by Graham McGeorge

Dear Friends,

This year, we are deeply thankful that you are a part of our mission to give injured, oiled and orphaned wild birds the care they deserve.

From all of us at International Bird Rescue, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

September 23, 2013

Great Blue Heron released at Ballona Wetlands

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.

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

September 11, 2013

Update on wildlife response in Alberta bitumen release

Primrose-Wildlife Response1

Several weeks ago, International Bird Rescue was activated to assist in collection and rehabilitation efforts for wildlife affected by the bitumen release at the Canadian Natural Resources Limited Primrose Project in northern Alberta.

Working alongside The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton and the Oiled Wildlife Society of British Columbia, we currently have MAPthree technicians in the field — two capture technicians and one field-stabilization technician. As some bird species begin their fall migration as early as July, our team is hard at work to deter animals from the affected area, using such methods as air horns and “bear bangers.” Only a few flyovers have been reported in recent days, however. The field team has deployed many traps to collect birds found in the area for care and/or relocation.

We also have several response team members working as part of a nine-person rehabilitation team at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton. A total of 94 animals have been brought into care during this event, with bird species including Ring-necked Ducks, a Great Horned Owl, American Coots, Green-winged Teals and a Black Tern.

As of Monday, 66 animals (including 23 muskrats) have been released far from the affected area, with more still in care.

Founded in 1971, International Bird Rescue has extensive experience in oiled wildlife events around the world. During the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we co-managed oiled bird rehabilitation centers in four states as part of a large-scale response to the incident that involved federal and state agencies, industry and non-governmental organizations.

Find out more about our response program here. We’ll keep you posted on the response effort via this blog.

Primose-Wildlife Response2

Update: Below, photos of beaver release at a location far removed from the bitumen-affected area, photos by Judith Paquin, communications and development director for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton.

Beaver release 1 sm

Beaver release 2sm

beaver release sm

July 29, 2013

The Second-Annual Banded Pelican Sighting Contest launches today!

Pelican C84, photo by Deanna Barth

Pelican lovers, take note: Today, we are pleased to announce International Bird Rescue’s Second-Annual Banded Pelican Contest, sponsored by Eagle Optics!

Our inaugural contest in 2012 yielded great results. Within two months, 119 Blue-Banded Pelican numbers were reported, representing an unprecedented number of pelican band sightings. Reporting the location where the bird is seen and the number from its large blue leg band helps us learn more about these birds, including their migration and their survivability in the wild. We have released over 1,100 California Brown Pelicans with blue bands from our wildlife hospitals since 2009. For more reading on the Blue-Banded Pelican Project, click here for a comprehensive overview.

Want to participate in this year’s contest? Whether you’ve spotted the number on a pelican’s metal federal band or an easy-to-read blue band, reporting a banded pelican sighting is easy. Just click here for the online reporting form. As you aid the important scientific research on the travels of the Pelecanus occidentalis, you will be helping in their conservation!


This year, our friends at Eagle Optics have again made a very generous donation for the winners of this contest. A eo3d_platinumVortex Nomad 20-60 X 60 Angled Spotting Scope will be awarded to the individual who reports the most sighted band numbers between July 29 and October 14. The runner-up will receive a fabulous pair of 2X Eagle Optics Denali 8 X 42 binoculars. Both winners will also become honorary Pelican Partners, our unique program that includes a private tour of an International Bird Rescue wildlife hospital and the exclusive opportunity to open the cage door to release a rehabilitated pelican back into the wild.

This week, International Bird Rescue’s BirdCam Project is also proudly sponsored by Eagle Optics. Check out a live look at ducklings and other birds in care this week.


This year’s contest begins July 29 and runs through October 14. Here are the rules:

1. The contest is open to all age groups. Youth participants accompanying adults can report the same birds as their parents. (Employees of International Bird Rescue are ineligible for prizes.)

2. Any banded pelican can be reported. Not all pelicans with a metal, federal band will also have a plastic blue band. Metal bands have a prefix and suffix, e.g. 0669-00130. For birds that have only a metal band, the entire number will need to be reported.

All blue bands begin with a letter and have two numbers following it. For example, A75 or M14. You do not have to report the metal band on Blue-Banded Pelicans, only the blue band.

3. Each reported band must be accurate to be considered.

4. Each bird can only be counted once a day.

5. Dead birds can only be counted once.

6. If you’ve spotted a banded pelican, report your sighting to International Bird Rescue’s online database.

Pelican P11, photo by Kristin McCleery

Help from International Bird Rescue

We’ll be sending and posting updates and hints on the best places to sight these birds over the coming weeks, as well as sharing your stories and providing information on birds with repeat sightings. Check out clues from last year’s contest here.

Pelicans with blue bands are currently being seen from Mexico to Washington state, so if you’re anywhere near the West Coast, you could spot them. Several days ago, Pelican K15, the pelican “poster bird” for last year’s contest that was last reported at Pacifica Pier near San Francisco, was recently spotted in Westport, Wash. in Grays Harbor! If you’re spending some time enjoying the coast, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for blue bands!

Photo Contest

Interested in photographing wildlife? Our Blue-Banded Pelican Contest also includes the opportunity to submit your best Blue-Banded Pelican shot with prizes awarded to the top three best photographs as judged by our committee. Last year’s winning photo, taken by Deanna Barth, can be seen on the 2013 poster here in English and Spanish.

The first-place photograph winner will receive a beautiful Alex and Ani pelican bangle, an honorary International Bird Rescue membership and an International Bird Rescue T-shirt. The second- and third-place winners will receive honorary memberships as well as T-shirts.

Good luck!

Download Blue-Banded Pelican Posters:

Pelican Poster: English (PDF 8.7 MB)
Pelican Poster: Spanish (PDF 2.8 MB)


July 11, 2013

Bird Blog news round-up, July 11

Photo by Ben Pless via Bay Nature

— The Snowy Plover, a small shorebird listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, has been found to be nesting on Stinson Beach in Northern California’s Marin County for the first time in three decades.

Bay Nature speaks with Lynne Stenzel of Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO), whose team made the discovery of a group of plovers at a single nest:

“Several aspects of this nest were unusual,” Stenzel said. “First, there were five plovers in close proximity while the eggs were being laid; usually pairs are territorial around their nest.  Observers identified three of these birds as females (two wore color bands); the other two were brightly plumaged males. Then, several days after the nest held the usual three eggs, a fourth egg appeared; this is uncommon though not unheard of. And two different plovers, both presumed females, took turns on the eggs for part of the 28-day incubation period. Finally, both males disappeared from the area before the eggs hatched; in snowy plovers, the male usually stays and tends the chicks.” [Bay Nature]

— Small, short-lived birds may have an evolutionary advantage in the face of climate change, according to a new study published in PLOS Biology. [Los Angeles Times]

— As the process for allocating billions of dollars in funds from the Gulf Oil Spill settlement begins, a new economic report on the Gulf states finds that the $19 billion wildlife tourism market depends heavily on pristine habitat for wildlife watching, with birding a primary tourist attraction. [Wildlife Tourism and the Gulf Coast Economy]

— Will you be in the San Pedro area on Friday, July 19? Stop by our center for a live broadcast with KNX 1070 Newsradio! [KNX 1070]

— Some 30,000 American White Pelicans have returned to North Dakota’s Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge to nest. Biologists have been monitoring 599112_381767721921156_1035924943_npelicans at the large refuge since 1905, three years before President Theodore Roosevelt declared the area a bird refuge to protect the animals from feather poachers and target practice. [Fox News]

— Voluntary conservation programs on private property, which accounts for 60% of all land in the U.S., is of significant importance for avian life in America, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior. [Houma Today]

— The New York Times profiles Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder, a veteran in documenting war zones who has turned his lens on imperiled birds. Beautiful, heartrending images. [New York Times]

— NBC News takes a look at what appears to be a growing problem: Urban chicken enthusiasts abandoning their animals at shelters after the novelty wears off and the challenges of raising these birds become evident. “Many areas with legalized hen-keeping are experiencing more and more of these birds coming in when they’re no longer wanted,” said Paul Shapiro, spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States. “You get some chicks and they’re very cute, but it’s not as though you can throw them out in the yard and not care for them.” [NBC News]

— The Napa Valley Patch spreads the word on our new BirdCam Project! [Napa Valley Patch]
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July 10, 2013

A Sooty Shearwater soars again

Shearwater IMG_5833-L
Photos by Bill Steinkamp

Upon seeing photos of a recent Sooty Shearwater in care at our Los Angeles center, we found an interesting tidbit on the migratory prowess of this amazing seabird, which rivals the Arctic Tern in distance traveled. Via UC-Santa Cruz Currents:

Every summer, millions of Sooty Shearwaters arrive off the coast of California, their huge flocks astonishing visitors who may have trouble grasping that the dark swirling clouds over the water consist of seabirds.

Scientists have long known that Sooty Shearwaters breed in New Zealand and Chile and migrate to feeding grounds in the Northern Hemisphere. But the details of this remarkable transequatorial migration are only now emerging from a study using electronic tracking tags to follow individual birds.

The flights of Sooty Shearwaters documented in this new study represent the longest animal migration routes ever recorded using electronic tracking technology: around 65,000 kilometers (39,000 miles). Taking advantage of prevailing winds along different parts of the migration route, the birds trace giant figure eights over the Pacific Basin.

The shearwater you see above was grounded at a Santa Barbara park and brought to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, which transferred the animal to us on June 29. Rehabilitation technician and volunteer Neil Uelman reports that the shearwater was found to have a minor wound on its left leg with swelling around it. The bird was started on antibiotics, which brought down the infection. After several days recovering in a pelagic pool, this shearwater was released Tuesday afternoon.

Shearwater IMG_5826-L


Mallard Duckling at SF Bay Center


July 8, 2013

Your 60-second baby bird fix: Puppet-feeding gull chicks

Video taken at our San Francisco Bay center. Many thanks to our intern and volunteer team for painting the gull puppet for feeding time!

Newly hatched Western Gull 7/6/13 with yesterdays sibling at SF Bay Center
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

May 27, 2013

Today in Bird Rescue history: the famous ‘alien in a duck’ X-ray


Seven years ago this Memorial Day weekend, International Bird Rescue made history with our eBay sale of an X-ray of an injured duck that had the appearance of an alien in its stomach.

The X-ray was sold for $9,600, made international news and was featured on both Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It was also featured in a Farley cartoon and on National Geographic News.

Read more on this unusual story here.