Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

December 31, 2016

Can You Fix This Printer?

Bird-Rescue

Dear Bird Rescue Supporter,

Nearly 20 years ago I stumbled into this organization as a volunteer that only had one request from me: Can you fix this printer? Back then the non-working printer was at Bird Rescue’s Berkeley ram-shackled headquarters in Aquatic Park. When I said Yes, it opened me up to the important and awe-inspiring work of wildlife rescue.

murre-release-2015Along the way I’ve learned how to clean bird pools, build net-bottom caging and to mostly tell the difference between the species of grebes. I got really hooked when I was asked to help in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2000 to assist in saving 20,000 oiled African Penguins. Yes, I have the scars to prove it and a list of life-long friends from the international community of wildlife lovers.

Last year in the San Francisco Bay Area, I learned that the public loves its wild birds as much as I do. When hundreds of scoters, grebes and other aquatic birds came to our Northern California fouled by a mystery goo, everyday people responded. They opened their generous hearts and checkbooks and made the difference for these suffering animals. They saw the birds as vital to our natural world as the air we breathe.

I now help manage the technology at Bird Rescue which includes making sure more than just the printers work. We have website and blog, live bird cams and thriving social media to educate the public. During big events, I help share the bird’s story by sharing it with the media.

Working at Bird Rescue is a family affair and my 13-year-old daughter has grown up around all this activity. Ask her to help me fix a problematic printer and you will get the teenage eye roll. Ask her if she wants to go on a bird release, and she’s the first one out the door. During more than one release she has opened the cage doors and I have seen the delight in her eyes as healthy birds return to the wild. (See video)

If you believe in the birds as much as I do, won’t you please contribute with a donation for our efforts here on the West Coast and around the world?

Thank you,

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December 30, 2016

Note from our Vet: The Broken, the Lacerated, and the Critically Injured

Bird-Rescue

baby-bird-becky

Dear Friend,

Here at International Bird Rescue we specialize in caring for waterbirds that have been affected by people—whether contaminated by oil or Mystery Goo, baby birds that have fallen from nests onto hard concrete, or birds who become entangled in fishing line or have hooks embedded in their body.

bird-special-donate-buttonAs Bird Rescue’s veterinarian, I specialize in treating the worst off of our patients—the broken, the lacerated, and the critically injured. With the invaluable help of our staff and volunteers we are able to pull off some pretty amazing recoveries—like my favorite patient of the year, an American White Pelican who arrived with two broken legs! He recovered very well after having pins in both legs—he’s shown here being released back into a flock of his own species. Read more here.

Even our youngest and tiniest patients often need surgical help: this Green Heron chick had a pin placed in his wing to help his bones grow straight and strong after being broken in a fall.

My other favorite patients of the year were our adorable Double-crested Cormorant chicks. I was so proud of our team for raising these delicate chicks into fat, feisty youngsters without making them at all comfortable around people! Raising wild animal babies to not only grow up strong and healthy but to remain psychologically wild is always a challenge.

But the high quality medical care we are able to give our patients would not be possible without your help. Each year we need surgical supplies, orthopedic pinning equipment, and bandaging materials for treating hundreds of fishing gear injuries, plus medications and a whole lot of food to feed our patients.

I ask you to please consider making your largest contribution to Bird Rescue to help us pay for these critical supplies and more to give birds the care they so deperately need and deserve. Please help us by making your generous gift today!

Sincerely,

becky-web-sig

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

December 21, 2016

Your Donation Is DOUBLED!

Bird-Rescue

comu-ye

Greetings, Bird Rescue Family–

bird-special-donate-buttonAn anonymous donor has stepped up to match your gift today up to $10,000! Please give one generous 2016 gift today and DOUBLE YOUR DONATION! Your gift is fully tax-deductible and will ensure proper care and shelter for injured and oiled birds to recover and be released back into the wild.

It’s not too late to help us reach our $75,000 year-end fundraising goal this year, which goes directly to helping more than 5,000 injured, sick, orphaned and oiled sea and water birds each year. We’re half way to reaching our goal, and we cannot do it without your support!

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December 7, 2016

An Unhappy Anniversary

Michele Johnson
Selendang-Ayu-Spill-Response 2004 in Alaska's Unalaska Island area on Berring Sea

Selendang-Ayu-Spill-Response 2004 in Alaska’s Unalaska Island area on Berring Sea

On the eve of the anniversary of the Selendang Ayu Spill (December 8, 2004), we are saddened to hear of the misfortune to the M/V Exito and her crew last night. Our hopes and prayers are with the captain and crew and their families.

The Exito and her crew were contracted with B​ird ​Rescue​’s Response Team during the M/V Selendang Ayu Oil Spill, a particularly challenging spill in the Aleutian Islands. selendang-ayu-spill-response-sc-sean-photos-117Because of the remoteness of the spill site, Bird Rescue contracted with the M/V Exito and the M/V Norseman, two crabbing vessels (think ​“Deadliest Catch”) that were available for when the fisheries around ​the island of ​Unalaska were closed because of the spill.

The Exito and her crew hosted several of our Response Team in addition to a specially-retrofitted Wildlife Stabilization unit, and was used to provide an at-sea “base camp” for our Responders and the wildlife they captured in extremely remote areas. Their contribution was invaluable to the wildlife we were able to help, and we hope that the missing crew are safely returned home.

You can read more here in an article from Alaska Dispatch.

November 24, 2016

Wishing You A Very Happy Thanksgiving!

Bird-Rescue


From this Leach’s Storm-Petrel and all of the staff and volunteers of Bird Rescue, we wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

We are most thankful for your continuous support of our mission to mitigate human impact on aquatic birds for the last 45 years. This work would be impossible without you. Our hands, your help, makes all the difference in caring for birds like this tiny storm-petrel.

Although Leach’s Storm-Petrels usually fly at night, if you could see them, you’d recognize them by their distinctive zigzagging flight. They are colonial nesters that build their homes of dry grasses and stems and can be found burrowed in a field or among rocks. (Author, Stokes) Learn more about the Leach’s Storm-Petrel from our friends at Audubon by clicking here.

Want to help give a bird a second chance? Then mark your calendar for #GivingTuesday next week and remind your friends about us by forwarding this email! Thanks for your continued support!

Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

 

November 11, 2016

Shot In Face, American White Pelican Is Recovering

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After second surgery White Pelican is recovering from gunshot wound. Photo: Rebecca Duerr–International Bird Rescue

At International Bird Rescue we do not normally receive very many American White Pelicans, but in the past few months we have admitted three of them: one with two broken legs (see story), one currently in care at our Los Angeles center for minor injuries, and one that somebody shot in the face! Now admittedly, fall is hunting season and these guys live in wetlands where duck hunting happens, so it is possible this wasn’t malicious and the bird was hit by a stray bullet. Regardless, it is, of course, illegal to shoot pelicans.

x-ray of white pelican sinuses

X-ray shows bullet lodged in Pelican’s sinus cavity.

This gorgeous bird came to us after being found in Palo Alto at Matadero Creek at the Baylands. His first caregivers at Peninsula Humane Society noted the bird had blood in his mouth and inflated skin around his eyes with a scab under his left eye. Our vet thought from the initial pictures we were sent that it could be a gunshot wound. She was correct: the scab was an entry wound and the bullet was lodged on the opposite side of the roof of his mouth after passing through his cheek. The bullet was still lodged in his sinuses at the roof of his mouth (see x-ray, right).

Removing the bullet was easy but the passage of the object through the bird’s face caused abnormal air movement in his head. The inflated ‘cheek’ skin persisted and got worse until he was so visually impaired he was unable to look downward very well. White Pelicans need to be able to search below themselves in the water for dinner, and this guy was having trouble even navigating walking downhill very well. So, during a second surgery, our vet opened up both problematic cheeks and sutured closed any holes she could find that might be causing the air leakage and took a tuck in his facial skin lest he be left with, as the staff put it, “bags under his eyes”.

So far so good. His abnormal facial inflation has not returned and his wounds are healing. We have hopes he’ll be ready to release before too long!

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American White Pelican with abnormally inflated facial skin under his eyes after a gunshot injury to the face, shown prior to his second surgery. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

Photo of American White Pelican resting while recovering from his second post-gunshot surgery

Recent photo of American White Pelican resting while recovering from his second post-gunshot surgery, kind of a “face lift”. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds-International Bird Rescue

 

October 31, 2016

Monsters Inside Us: Avian Eye Flukes

Rebecca Duerr
Photo of Microscope view of avian eye fluke

Microscope view of avian eye fluke. Photo by Lisa Robinson/International Bird Rescue

What could be creepier than the thought of having worms in your eye? This past year at International Bird Rescue we have seen quite a few cases of weird and horrifying eye worms in our patients. We don’t know if the increase is some side effect of California’s drought perhaps concentrating larger numbers of birds in smaller bodies of water, or some other factor. But in honor of Halloween we thought we’d share some knowledge about parasites of the eye. Knowledge is a good thing, right?

Philophthalmus gralli is a trematode (aka fluke) parasite that affects many species of birds. These worms look like miniature flatworms that have two suckers. The adult worms attach inside the bird’s eyelids in and around and on the conjunctiva and under the nictitans (3rd eyelid), where they suck blood and make lots of babies while irritating the heck out of the eye, of course. The fluke eggs hatch as they are released directly into water, where they find a snail they need for their next life stage. The ‘ripe’ larvae that leave the snail later encyst on aquatic vegetation, and wait for another bird to eat the plant. Once in the bird’s mouth they quickly burst free of their shell and make their way to their happy place in the eyelids of the bird to become an adult.

Yes, people can get this disease…but humans don’t get these dastardly worms directly from the birds! Instead, we can catch them from eating aquatic vegetation infested with worm cysts. We thankfully don’t have to worry too much about staff and volunteer exposure to these parasites since our pools lack a population of snails for the worms to complete their life cycle…but ewww!

Read more about their life cycle here: https://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/philophthalmiasis/index.html

October 11, 2016

November 4th Open House at San Francisco Bay Wildlife Center

Bird-Rescue

white-pelican-open-house
Our 45th Anniversary Open House at our San Francisco Bay Wildlife Center is less than a month away! Tickets are only $5, which helps pay for the cost of the event. This includes exclusive behind the scenes tours, that aren’t otherwise open to the public.

Please RSVP today via Eventbrite

We hope to see you there!

September 19, 2016

We’ve Re-launched Our Membership Program and We Hope You’ll Come Aboard!

Michele Johnson
Bird Rescue Membership Car Decal

Bird Rescue Membership Car Decal

You have helped us rehabilitate over 6,000 birds each year by supporting our work through donations to Bird Rescue. Thank you for your interest and gifts when you are able to make them — every gift is impactful, from the $5 one-time donation, to time spent by volunteers, to the thousand dollar gift or grant given. As we celebrate our 45 years of service together, we thought it was a great time to re-launch our membership program!

So what is the membership program, anyway, you might ask? It’s a one-time membership fee of $45 that gets you a year of member-only communications and a car decal to raise awareness for Bird Rescue.

Let’s get people talking about who we are as a Bird Rescue Family. From the person you park next to at the grocery store, your neighbor, your mom, daughter, son, dad, best friend — the people that you interact with everyday! We need ambassadors like you to bring life to the New Membership Program.

Our logo of the Pelican and Murre represent the connection to the fascinating world of aquatic birds, while the blue color identifies the hard work of our dedicated team of clinical staff. As their beaks almost touch, it shows that moment of connection between the birds and the people that care for them.

This brandmark is a symbol of the importance of wildlife rehabilitation for a healthy and vibrant community and ecosystem. It is a reminder to teach our youth about wildlife rehabilitation in the hopes that they will become our future conservationists.

Bird Rescue Membership Car Decal

Placing this decal in a visible place is a simple, but effective way to remind people about the wondrous life of birds. Will you join the flock and help raise awareness of the importance of oceanic birds today?

BIG thank you to those that have already joined and please feel free to email Michele Johnson, our Membership Manager, at: michele.johnson@bird-rescue.org, if you have any questions about this NEW Membership Program. Thank you for your continued interest in the health of our aquatic avian species!

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

September 2, 2016

Adopt-a-Loon in Honor of Loon Month!

Bird-Rescue

Loon

This September we celebrate Loons as our bird of the month, and the unique care that is required for this particular species. Have you ever heard the sounds of a Loon? We’ve got a great video posted on our Facebook page, where you can watch and listen to the beautiful vocalizations. When a Loon comes through our doors, we must work quickly to stabilize, as loons tend to be one of the more fragile species we get into care.

Did you know it costs $10 a day to provide a Loon with fish to eat, the necessary medical treatment and supplements, and clean water to swim in?

This means for Loons alone, the average cost is $300 a month!

Will you help us by adopting a Loon today for just $10? For every Loon adopted we will share on our social media sites, to encourage participation and help meet our fundraising goal of $3,500. This will cover our estimated cost for caring for this species in the year ahead.

You can even adopt a bird as a gift to someone that you know works really hard as a thank you to him or her, while also helping a bird today. Your adoption includes a fun downloadable PDF that you can print and display proudly.

Will you help us reach our fundraising goal of $3,500 this month by adopting a Loon today?

Adopt-Loon

August 26, 2016

American White Pelican Out of Trouble

Michele Johnson
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.

August 5, 2016

Our 45th Anniversary Celebration Was A Huge Success Thanks To You!

Bird-Rescue
Community_KPlummer

We had a great turnout at our 45th celebration in San Pedro. Photo: Katrina Plummer

Last Saturday, July 30th, at our San Pedro wildlife rehabilitation center, we joined the community in celebrating 45 years of service to aquatic bird species. Dawn and the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) joined forces as our main sponsors and helped us put together a phenomenal event.

We were beyond thrilled to have Joel Sartore as our keynote speaker at the event. Joel specializes in documenting endangered species and landscapes around the world. He is the founder of the Photo Ark project, a 25-year photographic documentary to save species and habitat. In his words, “it is folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity. When we save species, we’re actually saving ourselves.” He certainly inspired our group to continue this quest to respond to, rehabilitate and ultimately protect our wildlife for future generations.

This family-friendly event also featured exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of our wildlife center, educational tables, immersive art with Greenly Art Space, delicious food trucks, and more! We hosted a raffle, with items such as a special weekend at our partners Terranea’s Resort, in which we regularly release birds from their beach-front property.

The highlight of the day was our extraordinary release of a very special pelican that was given, not only a second, but a third chance at life. Dawn hosted a Facebook Live stream of the release that you can watch here: https://www.facebook.com/dawn/videos/10153670480956820/. Pelican N39 came to us at our SF Bay Center back in 2010 emaciated and anemic, and was released after a typical three weeks stay. He had been spotted all over California, up and down the coast and as far north as Washington State. With the help from Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, he came back through our doors at our San Pedro Center with an abdominal puncture wound and toe injury. He stayed a bit longer this time, for five months, until he was ready to be released. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect to pay homage to this landmark occasion. N39 did not hesitate in his flight as he soared out into the open ocean, and back to the wild.

This event beautifully demonstrated how our community can come together to give voice to the wild birds and stand behind their needs. We so are excited that you were able to celebrate with us as we launch into the next phase of Bird Rescue.

Missed it? There’s still time to celebrate! We will be hosting a 45th Anniversary Gala next spring in the San Francisco Bay Area and hope you’ll be able to join us. Stay tuned and thank you again for all that you do for International Bird Rescue!

Many thanks to all of our hard working volunteers, staff, and generous sponsors: POLA, Dawn, McRoberts Sales, Tesoro, OWCN, Princess Cruises, Dr. John and Mrs. Terry Miller, and anonymous donations from long-time supporters. We couldn’t do this without you!

How Will You Help A Bird Today?

Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore, National Geographic photographer and founder Of Photo Ark, joined us for an inspirational talk about preserving wildlife through images. Photo: Bill Steinkamp

July 28, 2016

Patient of the Week: Double Trouble American White Pelican

Bird-Rescue
Photo of American White Pelican with two fractured legs i care at International Bird Rescue

American White Pelican with two fractured legs contemplating fish while in a recovery cage we call a “peli box”. (Photos by Rebecca Duerr – International Bird Rescue)

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.

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.

This beautiful American White Pelican was transferred to us on July 18 from our colleagues at the SPCA for Monterey County’s Wildlife Center, after being found on a rural road in Monterey County with injuries consistent with being stuck by a vehicle. They sent our staff veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, some x-rays that did not make the case seem very hopeful…but it was intriguing! The bird had a good attitude (snappy and feisty) and was in otherwise good condition, but had two broken legs. In pelicans, the bone that is broken in this bird (the tarsometatarsus) is a fracture that requires pinning in order to have a good outcome. Our vet had pinned several of these in pelicans before but never both legs on the same bird! The rehabilitators in Monterey splinted the fractures temporarily and transferred him to our San Francisco Bay center for surgery.

On examination at our center, the left tarsometatarsus had intact skin but felt like a crunchy shattered mess through the whole middle half of the bone. On the x-rays we could see a series of longitudinal cracks, but it felt structurally sound on each end, which boded well for holding pins. The right side felt more-or-less intact but had a squishy, caved-in area on the front side that appeared as a greenstick (incomplete) fracture on x-rays. Even in a well-fitted splint, greenstick tarsometatarsus fractures in pelicans tend to bend and warp as they heal, leaving the bird with altered weight-bearing on the leg and subsequent trouble standing and walking. Both legs definitely needed pinning. Surgery to place pins happened last week.

We are happy to report this bird is now standing and walking very well on his pinned legs! He is also much less cranky now that he can stand up and walk away from us. He has been spending his time enjoying the menu and has gained quite a bit of weight. His foot posture when standing is excellent and he has perfect control of all his toes. So far so good!

The pins will be removed in a few weeks.

How did you help a bird today? Donate and support the ongoing care that our two California wildlife centers provide to to 5,000+ aquatic birds each year.

X-rays of American White Pelican with broken legs in care at International Bird Rescue

Radiographs of the left (on left) and right (on right) tarsometatarsus (leg) fractures in an American White Pelican. The right leg has a a greenstick (incomplete) fracture, and the metal piece of bird shot does not appear associated with the fracture. The left leg shows multiple longitudinal fractures throughout the central half of the bone.

Closeup of American White Pelican sleeping peacefully under anesthesia while his two fractured legs are being pinned.

Closeup of American White Pelican sleeping peacefully under anesthesia while his two fractured legs are being pinned.