Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

December 20, 2017

Ron Morris: Bird Rescue Board Member Since 2014


Editor’s Note: The work we do at Bird Rescue wouldn’t be possible without our amazing team of staff, volunteers, and board members! Read below to meet one of our stellar team members!

While Ron may be a relatively new member of the Bird Rescue board, he’s a long-time friend to the organization. As a retired Captain in the U.S. Coast Guard and the former General Manager and President of Alaska Clean Seas, Ron has been an ally of Bird Rescue since the mid 90’s. From spill exercises and oil spill response, to capture and stabilization training throughout mainland and coastal Alaska, Ron’s collaborative efforts with Bird Rescue have a long and rich history.

Ron first met our Response Services Director, Barbara Callahan in the late 80s and our late Executive Director, Jay Holcomb in the late 90s. Ron remembers working emergency response efforts with both Jay and Barbara and looks back on the events fondly. “When you’re working in that sort of a situation with someone, one where every moment counts, you begin to get a sense of who they are, of what they are made of.” Both Jay and Barbara were a pleasure to work with, and I knew I could rely on them”.

Though Ron’s official capacities may have shifted when he retired, the same sense of duty and willingness to help has stayed with him as a now Board Member and currently chairman for International Bird Rescue. Ron not only brings a career’s worth of coastal and oceanic knowledge to the table but an Officer’s ability to step in and get the job done as needed. Our Executive Director, JD Bergeron, said it best “Ron brings to the board all of the confidence and reassuring demeanor of a ship’s captain. He calmly and skillfully steers the board through the challenges of a successful not-for-profit organization as it approaches its 50th year.”

Ron found both his career with the U.S. Coast Guard and with Alaska Clean Seas to be rewarding and fulfilling but is happy to be retired and enjoying a different side of life. When Ron is not busy with Bird Rescue, you can find him traveling the countryside with his wife Kandis (married 40 years!) in their RV, at his cabin in Oregon, or spending time with his two daughters and grandchildren (including furry ones) in Washington. When reflecting on his life’s accomplishments Ron’s family was at the top of his list, his eyes lighting up the whole time he spoke of them. Ron loves to travel, golf, kayak, and ski, and is proud to stand by Bird Rescue as a beloved board member. Thank you, Ron, for bringing all that you do to the organization!

December 18, 2017

Great Egret Suffers Two Gunshot Wounds, $500 Reward Offered


Wounded Great Egret is recovering at Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center. Photo: Devin Hansen/International Bird Rescue

A Great Egret is recovering at International Bird Rescue after being found shot in Southern California on November 28, 2017. International Bird Rescue is offering a $500 reward to anyone with information leading to the conviction of the perpetrator involved.

The wounded Egret was brought to an Agoura Hills, CA animal hospital before being transferred to Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center with two gunshot wounds. One pellet went in at the left breast muscle, punched a hole in the bird’s keel, exited on the right side and fractured the bird’s wing bone (ulna).

“Bird Rescue was created to mitigate human impact on birds, and most of the injuries we see on a daily basis are caused by human negligence,” said JD Bergeron, International Bird Rescue Executive Director. “A bird like this though–a beautiful white marsh bird that was used for target practice–is the victim of willful human cruelty.”

The injured bird, nicknamed “Ernie” by the students at Colina Middle School in Thousand Oaks where the animal was found, underwent a successful surgery and is recuperating at Bird Rescue’s wildlife center located in San Pedro, CA. Read: Injured egret saved on middle school campus

“To the exceptional students and staff at Colina Middle School: Thank you for coming to the aid of this bird in distress,” said Bergeron.

The abuse of this Great Egret is a federal offense. Anyone with information about this animal cruelty case, including the name or location of the perpetrator, can call the local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at (310) 328-1516. Callers may remain anonymous.

“We hope that whoever is responsible for this shooting can be brought to justice,” added Bergeron.

Great Egrets were nearly hunted to extinction in the 1890’s for their silky plume of feathers. Concerned citizens organized a nationwide movement that resulted in federal protection for migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.


X-ray of fractured the bird’s wing bone (ulna).

Pellet removed from Great Egret by our vet during surgery.

Egret just after surgery.



December 18, 2017

Partnerships in Action: BP


Cackling Geese Release

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

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

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




December 10, 2017

Patient of Week: Injured American White Pelican Making Great Progress!


After treatment: Much happier White Pelican living outside and able to eat on his own.

We’ve got some good news: The severely injured American White Pelican rescued in Orange County last month is making great progress! This bird was spotted with a terrible bill fracture at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine a few weeks ago. On top of the bill fracture, the poor bird had several neck wounds and a double triple hook fishing lure in his foot.

Injured American White Pelican was spotted first in Irvine, CA. Photo by Sandrine Biziaux-Scherson

The injured bird was originally spotted at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine, CA by members of the local Sea and Sage Audubon Society. Even with its severe injuries, the Pelican was flighted and evaded capture.

Just before Thanksgiving the pelican was spotted in the driveway of a home in Newport Beach. After Newport Beach Police was contacted, Animal Control Officer Nick Ott responded and was able to capture the frightened bird. It was brought to Wetlands and Wildlife in Huntington Beach and then transferred to our Los Angeles Wildlife Center.

We found the bird to be anemic and emaciated, and he had problems maintaining his body temperature. His lower bill fracture was causing his mouth to not fit together correctly, and was at high risk of becoming a compound fracture any minute, which would have lowered his chances of successful treatment dramatically. A characteristic fish hook hole in the tip of his lower bill pointed a finger at the cause of the injury. Dr. Rebecca Duerr, Bird Rescue’s staff veterinarian, said “The poor bird probably hooked his mouth trying to get the double treble hook out of his foot, and broke his bill while ripping the hook out of his mouth.”

Juvenile pelican mandibles are very flexible soft bone, which complicates pinning surgery. This bird’s mandible was fractured not only across the mandible but also was split longitudinally, making the whole front half of the left side very wiggly and unstable. Our vet is hoping the fixator style she chose does the trick.

We are happy to report that after a few weeks of intensive care and surgery, he has become much stronger and is able to live in an outdoor aviary. He’s put on more than a kilogram of weight and has a seemingly-bottomless appetite for what’s on the menu!

Intake: American White Pelican being examined by International Bird Rescue staff Julie Skoglund and Kylie Clatterbuck. Note bruising and crease at the fractured area of the lower jaw.

American White Pelicans, as you can see from the photos, are very large birds. Their wingspan can easily reach 8-10 feet. They are one of the heaviest flying birds in the world, reaching an average weight of 11 to 20 pounds.

Very loooong body: This bird is so long we needed an extension on the surgery table while working on his mouth. Center Manager Kylie Clatterbuck is keeping the pelican comfortably anesthetized right before his bill was pinned.

We would like to thank Sea and Sage Audubon Society, the Newport Beach Animal Control and our colleagues at Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center of Huntington Beach for their heroic efforts. We have high hopes things will continue to go well for this bird, and will let our colleagues know when a release is planned, to give this lucky bird a proper sendoff.

The fix: Top view, left, of the mandible after the 1st half of the external fixator was applied. Note the ugly wound at the tip of the bill where the fish hook dug a gouge. Right, Mandible radiograph after pins and external fixator were placed.

December 7, 2017

Clinic Files: Canvasback Neck Wound


This beautiful male Canvasback was found bleeding from his neck in Milpitas, CA, after being attacked by an unknown predator. The rescuer took the duck to our friends at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose, CA, who cleaned his wound and started him on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and pain medication. They then transferred him to us because of the severity of the wound.

Canvasback – Photo by Cheryl Reynolds.

Despite the horrible neck wound, he was able to hold his head up pretty normally and did not have any obvious evidence that his spine, esophagus, or trachea was involved, which gave us hope that the wound had a good chance of healing well. Our staff carefully cleaned and bandaged the wound, preparing him for surgery on the following day. The injury affected over 50% of the circumference of the duck’s neck, with substantial muscle and jugular vein damage, but our experienced veterinarian was able to remove all the damaged tissue and close the wound. We are happy to report that this gorgeous boy is now living in one of our outdoor pelagic pools and is on the road to recovery—which includes eating LOTS of krill! We will continue to monitor and care for this bird until he is fully ready to be released.


Canvasback – Photo by Jennifer Linander

One of our core programs at Bird Rescue is the Wildlife Rehabilitation Services Program. Bird Rescue operates two full-time wildlife centers in California and one turn-key facility in Alaska. While our Alaska center is only available for emergency situations, our San Francisco Bay-Delta and Los Angeles wildlife centers take in injured and sick aquatic birds year-round. Our facilities specialize in treating wounded, sick, oiled, and orphaned aquatic birds with the goal of releasing them into the wild once they are recovered.

For more information on the work we do at Bird Rescue, visit our website. For an inside peek at what goes on in our outdoor pools, check out our birdcam! For questions about this post, please email Bird Rescue at clinicfiles@bird-rescue.org.

December 7, 2017

Photographers in Focus: Ingrid Taylar


Mama: Black-necked Stilts (Himantopus mexicanus), at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.

We would like to welcome you back – after a hiatus – to the Photographers in Focus feature. It’s International Bird Rescue’s tribute to wildlife photographers who inspire our passion for aquatic bird rehabilitation.

This time around, we are pleased to showcase the work of Ingrid Taylar, a San Francisco Bay Area nature photographer. We hope you enjoy her work as much as we do.

Question: How did you get into wildlife photography?

Answer: I’ve loved animals for as long as I can remember, and my interest in photography began early as well. My parents bought me my first camera in grade school, a Kodak Instamatic to document our lives overseas. I made earnest efforts in photography and was thrilled to get my first SLR at 18. But those early skills were inconsistent because I never had a lot of money for film and developing.

Brandt’s Cormorants (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) nesting in Monterey, California.

I got my first digital SLR while volunteering at Lindsay Wildlife in the Bay Area. The hospital experience helped me understand more intimately the challenges wild animals face — and that understanding grew into a passion for their protection and conservation. The telephoto lens gave me a way to connect, observe, and document while minimizing my intrusion.

Stretch: Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

I’m grateful I was exposed to the ethical framework and mentorship of a wildlife rehab setting before I became serious about nature photography. I learned at the outset to put the welfare of the animal above the image. We all face ethical decisions in the field: How close do we move in? Are we disturbing or endangering the animal? Are we interfering with their feeding or rest? I know that any choice I make for the sake of a photograph can potentially change an outcome for that animal. So, although I make mistakes or miscalculations like anyone else, the modalities of care I learned in the wildlife hospital are at the foundation of my field practice.

Q: Your photo of the Stilts is simply amazing. How did you come to capture this beautiful image?

A: Thank you. I shot it at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. I didn’t actually expect to have a salvageable image from that day because the light was challenging. So, I was looking to capture the basis of something artistic and ethereal in nature, rather than a straight-forward documentary photo.

I didn’t see the chick at first. S/he appeared in my periphery as I was snapping silhouettes of the adult birds and their reflections. It was one of those serendipitous and lovely moments that occur sometimes in the stillness. I took a few shots before a heron passed overhead and the parents hustled the chick under safe cover. I walked away at that point.

I’m very careful about photographing baby birds and will avoid it if my presence might cause stress or draw unwanted attention to the babies. I know it’s hard enough for parents to protect their chicks from daily hazards without the distraction of a photographer.

For the final image, I developed it in post-processing to bring out more of the ethereal quality. The original frame was a tad under-exposed, so I intentionally over-exposed it, and added a low-opacity vignette to accentuate the lightness.

Ruckus: Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula) nesting in a parking lot tree in Huntington Beach, California.

Q: What camera do you use? What is your favorite lens for wildlife photography?

A: I shoot with Olympus gear. I photographed for years with an Olympus E-3 DSLR, then switched to the first OMD E-M1 “micro four thirds” camera when it came off the line. The E-M1 is mirrorless technology, and the smaller size and lighter weight of the Oly gear suits my shooting style, which usually involves walking or hiking or being en route from one place to another. I also had a long-standing, unrequited love for the Olympus OM film system, so I was finally able to replace that nostalgia with a digital model. My favorite wildlife lens is my newest, the Olympus 300mm f/4 (2x crop factor). [I have no commercial affiliation with Olympus.]

Q: What’s the most challenging aspect of what you do?

A: The biggest challenge for me is dealing with some of the disregard I witness in the field. I see more harassment than I wish I did, especially of birds, and it takes an effort to retain equanimity in those situations. It’s easy to get upset. When I do need to intervene, I try to find a portal through which I can educate at the same time. A lot of people simply don’t know how to interact (or not interact) with wild animals, and then all it takes is a nudge in the right direction. A camera with a wildlife lens tends to attract conversation and questions, so I take advantage of that opportunity to share my own appreciation for these animals. Sometimes it works. At other times it can be an exercise in exasperation.

Mixed shorebird flock at Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland, California.

Q: Why birds?

A: I love photographing animals in general, and I tend not to discriminate, but birds are natural subjects because of how regularly their lives intertwine with ours, existing above and within our paradigm. They are accessible to us in urban, rural and wilderness settings. Seeing them up close through the telephoto — the eyes, the subtle expressions, the details of their feathers, their social interactions — I am awed by that gift every single time.

I’m particularly fond of the more common species, the ones frequently overlooked. I have a soft spot for pigeons, for instance, having rescued a couple of racing pigeons years ago. One of my favorite photo shoots was documenting a small group of Glaucous-winged Gulls nesting on a downtown Seattle rooftop. The gulls were ubiquitous in the area, but I always refer to these species as “gateway birds.” They are often the first wild birds that city dwellers or children encounter, the first birds they start to care about, and sometimes, the first they ever rescue or bring to a wildlife hospital. They were for me. I see these species as liaisons and emissaries of sorts, bridging the chasm between the urban and the wild.

Q: Who are some of your favorite wildlife photographers?

A: My earliest ideas of craft came from photos that helped me understand visual storytelling: documentary and war images like those of Robert Capa and Margaret Bourke-White, and, of course, the pages of National Geographic with iconic shots like the van Lawick photos of Jane Goodall interacting with chimpanzees. Photojournalism, in particular, had a huge impact on me, and it’s probably why I’m in nature photography, I’m so drawn to the grittier urban or industrial juxtapositions.

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) during a feeding frenzy at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, California.

In terms of creativity and composition, two well-known nature photographers whose images were formative for me were Frans Lanting and Art Wolfe. I draw inspiration and hope from conservation photographers like Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen (among others) who bring critical attention to ecological issues through their work.

It’s also encouraging to see so many more female photographers influencing the profession, and two women whose images I’ve come to know and love through our mutual interest in wildlife ethics are Melissa Groo and Mia McPherson. I am constantly motivated by the care they show for their subjects, and the high ethical standards they promote in the field.

Q: How has working in nature enhanced your life?

A: It’s made me more patient and more present in the moment. It’s helped me become more conscious of how my own everyday choices affect other species. Several years ago, my husband and I were lucky enough to take an orca photography excursion with an experienced naturalist. The conversation veered toward how difficult it was to find a mattress or sofa that didn’t contain environmentally damaging chemicals which then pollute marine mammal habitats. I think once you become aware and care, that type of concern informs your decisions, even in tangential ways. At the same time, I’m not exemplary in this regard. If anything, it’s made me more conflicted to be cognizant of my own, unavoidable impact as a human.

My aim as a photographer, outside of the personal fulfillment it brings, is to help offset some of that impact through advocacy, by promoting an appreciation for the diverse lives around us. If someone notices the beauty of a bird because of a photograph they see, if they treat a wild animal with more kindness and respect because of a story we tell, or if they care more about their environment because of how we portray it, that to me is the highest reward. Although I have my moments of cynicism and despair, I still hold out hope that person by person, we can transition to a world where compassionate coexistence is the norm.

It’s difficult to overstate just how much I’ve learned from other animals. They have an innate ability to move with the flow, to transcend hardship, to tune into the rhythms and natural cycles that are often overrun by our city lights and soundscapes. I’m still amazed at how specialized and perfect they are in their individual niches. Watching wild animals navigate their existence is a lesson in both the humility and grandeur of our short time on this earth. I’m working to be worthy of the knowledge I’ve gained through them.

Stop Trashing My Ocean: Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) with empty chip bag.

All photos © Ingrid Taylar


December 4, 2017

Devin Hanson: Bird Rescue Staff Since 2015


Staff Spotlight:
The work we do at Bird Rescue wouldn’t be possible without our amazing team of staff and volunteers! Read below to meet one of our stellar team members.

Devin Hanson – bird washing at our LA wildlife center

Devin started with Bird Rescue as an intern and was so wonderful that we had to hire her as one of our two full-time Rehabilitation Technicians at our Los Angeles wildlife center. Her background is in Marine Biology, which she studied as an undergrad at the University of Oregon.

Devin originally hails from the state of Washington’s Puget Sound area, where her love of marine biology was first born. She grew up in a small town where one of the major pastimes was tracking the lives of the area’s three well-known pods of orcas. Devin recounts these experiences fondly and says they are what inspired her to go into marine science. Devin tells us she is happy to be at Bird Rescue and feels lucky to be part of an organization that provides great care for birds and great training for its staff.

When Devin is not hard at work saving birds’ lives, she enjoys gardening, dancing, and teaching. She is a lifelong competitive dancer (hip-hop, contemporary, and lyrical) who believes that dancing is fun and brings balance to her life. She recently began teaching a hip-hop class that some of her fellow staff members have attended (the word is that it’s quite the workout!).

We love having interesting, knowledgeable, and creative teammates like Devin—she’s a hard worker and a valuable co-worker, and she’s brought her dancing skills to us for some after-work fun. Thanks, Devin, for bringing all of your assets to the Bird Rescue family!

November 28, 2017

DOUBLE Your Love For Birds On This #GivingTuesday


Thanks to a generous donor, your donation is DOUBLED today on this #GivingTuesday! Help us reach our goal of raising $40,000 for our work treating thousands of aquatic birds each year.

Learn more about what we do by viewing Bird Rescue’s Mission video below:


November 7, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other media reports

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

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

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

Oiled Ring-billed Gull. Photo: Glen Tepke

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


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

October 15, 2017

Atlas Fire Hits Close to Home for Bird Rescue’s SF Bay-Delta Wildlife Center


The Atlas fire in California is has been hitting close to home for the past week at Bird Rescue. Our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center, which is also our headquarters, is located in Fairfield, California, not far from the path of the fires.

We kept our birds-in-care at the facility as long as we could before the poor air quality and the looming possibility of evacuation rose beyond our acceptable threshold. For the well-being of our birds, we made the decision on Wednesday evening to release those that were healthy enough to go, and to transfer the remaining patients to partner centers outside the fire zone.

Preparing aquatic birds to be transferred to any outside facility (especially those not specialized in aquatic care) takes a tremendous amount of energy, and we are grateful that our team of employees and volunteers stepped up to the challenge. From exit examinations to preparing the bird’s medications and food, paperwork, and arranging transport, the process is extremely time-consuming and tedious.

Huge thanks to partner centers WildCare (San Rafael), Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (San Mateo), The SPCA for Monterey County (Monterey), and Pacific Wildlife Care (San Luis Obispo) for receiving these patients. We hope that they are all adjusting nicely to their new respective centers.

So long as it is still safe to do so, our center will remain open as a service to the public for wildlife emergencies. However, we will not be receiving new patients until the situation improves. Our hearts go out to our employees, volunteers, and supporters who have already been impacted. We join in unity with the communities affected, our fellow emergency response professionals, and all the many of you who have stepped up to help out, with shelter, with donations, and with your support.

In our 46-year history, we have never needed to evacuate all of the birds from our facility. We have been through floods, handled numerous oil spill emergencies, felt earthquakes, endured other extreme weather, and yet this evacuation is unique for our SF Bay-Delta wildlife center. Our flight aviary may be motionless at the moment, but we are thankful we can see the uncharred hill behind us through the smoke.

While we are not currently accepting new patients at our SF center, we are happy to report that business, as usual, will go on at our Los Angeles wildlife center. We are glad to be able to continue to serve the Los Angeles area and are eagerly awaiting the ability to do so again at our SF Bay-Delta wildlife center.

To keep updated on the most current situation at Bird Rescue, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Thank you again for all of your support, which is needed now more than ever!

Sincerely and with gratitude,
The International Bird Rescue Team


September 27, 2017

Volunteer Spotlight: Susan “Mac” McCarthy


Editor’s note: The work we do at Bird Rescue wouldn’t be possible without our amazing team of staff and volunteers! Read below to meet one of our stellar team members.

Susan McCarthy – Volunteer Since 1971

A writer and a volunteer, Susan (or Mac as we’ll call her) has been on the front lines with Bird Rescue since 1971, getting her start at the Standard Oil spill incident that prompted the very formation of our organization! From oil spills to her work as a writer, Mac’s commitment to animal welfare has been an inspiration to us over the years.

A long-time Bay Area resident, Mac has always had a soft spot for avian wildlife. Growing up in a home that valued the welfare of all animals (including a mother who used to drive her to our center so she could volunteer!) it’s no wonder that Mac has dedicated her life to studying and writing about animal behavior.

As a professional writer, Mac’s work can be seen in her non-fiction books When Elephants Weep (which she co-authored with Jeff Masson) and Becoming a Tiger. In addition to her work in animal behavior, Mac also runs a blog with her colleague Marjorie Ingall, Sorry Watch, which analyzes apologies, both public and private.

We are so grateful that Mac has chosen to spend her time helping our efforts over the years, and are delighted to get to spend time with such an interesting and dedicated woman!

Read Mac’s account of bird rescue at the 1971 San Francisco Bay oil spill: http://www.outsidelands.org/1971_oil_spill.php

September 17, 2017

Patient of the Week: White-tailed Kite


Rare patient: A White-tailed Kite in care at our SF Bay-Delta Center.

Because of our specialization with water birds, it’s not often that we get to work with or talk about non-aquatic birds, such as this gorgeous, juvenile White-tailed Kite. You may remember three oiled Prairie Falcon chicks that we featured last summer. While we specialize in aquatic bird species, we work with any species that is in need to the best of our abilities.

This kite came to our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center in need of food, water, and warmth after being found crouching near a chicken coop at a private residence in Vallejo, California. The home owner brought the bird to our clinic and we quickly worked to stabilize it, providing the needed warmth and fluids and force-feeding it since it was not ready to feed on its own. We cared for the bird for a couple of days until it was stabilized, and then transferred it to our colleagues at Lindsay Wildlife Museum where it could receive specialized long-term care from their raptor specialists.

White-tailed Kites are medium-sized raptors that can be found in open grasslands and savannas. A good way to spot them in the wild is their characteristic hunting style of hovering over the ground in search of small mammals! They have a bright white tail, grey back and wings, and a white face. Click the photo at top to see footage of a kite hunting and feasting.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it is unknown whether these soaring beauties are nomadic, migratory, or both. They can be found roosting communally in the off-season.

Though White-tailed Kites are not currently threatened, all raptor species face the challenge of contamination from our environment. Sitting at the top of the food chain, raptors are heavily affected by the toxins that get into their diets. When their prey (small mammals, birds, etc.) are exposed to toxins, these toxins can get more concentrated in the bird of prey when they ingest the animal.

While we love our water birds at Bird Rescue, we’re always happy to celebrate all birds, and this White-tailed Kite is a true beauty. For more information on White-tailed Kites, go here.

Photos by Senior Rehabilitation Technician Jennifer Linander

September 11, 2017

Patient of the Week: Virginia Rail


You may have heard of a dance called the Virginia Reel, but have you ever hard of a bird called a Virginia Rail?

Rails are a diverse family of mostly aquatic birds, not unlike swamp chickens. Most members of this group of birds are very adept at hiding and prefer to inhabit dense vegetation. They are more often heard than seen. Many of this family have distinct calls that are surprisingly loud in relation to their small bodies.

We are currently treating Virginia Rail patients at both our Northern and Southern California wildlife centers. Virginia Rails are very small, with a distinctive orange beak. They are very delicate and can fall victim to house cats, car collisions, and many other human-caused hazards. Fortunately, we successfully released one just last week from our Los Angeles wildlife center.

To hear the voice of the Virgina Rail, click the photo to the right. You can also learn more about Virginia Rails at Cornell Lab of Ornithology: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Virginia_Rail/id

Photos by volunteer Katrina Plummer


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.


September 2, 2017

Patient of the Week: American White Pelican


Pelicans and stray fishing tackle sure don’t mix. This American White Pelican came into our care with nasty fishing line entanglement injuries. The bird was transferred to us from our friends at WildCare in July with a huge abscess on one wing (plus maggots, ewww, now thankfully gone) and some serious damage to a leg that we are treating.

We are happy to report that after several surgeries for wound treatment and a toe amputation the bird is healing like a champ. Between extra helpings of fish and mandatory hydrotherapy for his leg, the White Peli is flying from perch to perch in the 100-foot aviary at our San Francisco Bay-Delta Center in Fairfield. We have hopes he will be released back to the wild soon!

White Pelicans have 9-foot wingspans and are some of the largest birds in North America. They are larger than Brown Pelicans and feed differently than their cousins, preferring not to dive into water. Instead, they forage cooperatively in inland bodies of water by herding fish toward shallower water together, then scooping them up with their huge bills. Learn more at Audubon: http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/american-white-pelican

Photos by staffers Cheryl Reynolds and Rebecca Duerr