Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

August 1, 2014

Wading birds find a new home in the Ballona Wetlands

Bird-Rescue

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

Via Mychel Bradley:

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

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

August 1, 2014

The week in bird news, August 1

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• The Pacific Northwest is seeing a dramatic and troubling decline in seabird species, from the once-ubiquitous Western Grebe to Surf Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks. Fish availability may be a major contributing factor, according to several new studies. “It’s one thing to have a rare species decline,” Joe Gaydos of the SeaDoc Society tells the Seattle Times. “But we’re not talking about a few plovers. We’re talking about big, common species, and a lot of them.” [Seattle Times]

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Image via Seattle Times

Black Oystercatchers are showing up at Aramburu Island near Tiburon, CA, thanks to restoration efforts that include the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary. “We have been working on the shoreline to make it suitable for breeding and we finished only late last year so this is immediate validation,” said Jordan Wellwood, center director. “We also saw the egg shells hidden as we thought they would be. The birds identified this as a good location.” [Marin Independent Journal]

•On Earth contributing editor Bruce Stutz makes an impassioned and convincing plea to restore wetlands. [Yale Environment 360]

• A few weeks ago we were dismayed to hear of plans in Florida to build a Wal-Mart and accompanying shopping center on an endangered ecosystem. Turns out, that’s not the only threat to this area of pine rocklands forest, home to Pine Warblers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. [Think Progress Climate]

• The Minneapolis City Council will consider implementing bird-safe glass in a $1 billion new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Both the American Bird Conservancy and Audubon Minnesota have been instrumental in pushing for the bird-safe design. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

• (?!) DDT is still killing songbirds in Michigan. [Scientific American]

• Amazing! Wired takes a look at Colombian artist Diana Beltran Herrera’s exquisite and lifelike paper birds. [Wired]

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Tweets of the week:

July 30, 2014

Patient of the week: White-faced Ibis

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"White-Faced Ibis Juvenile in care at SF Bay Center"
WFIBPhoto by Cheryl Reynolds

This juvenile White-faced Ibis was found near Natomas, CA with a broken wing and brought to an animal shelter on July 27 before transfer to our San Francisco Bay center. The bird has a fractured radius and ulna; our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, has pinned the injury, and the ibis is currently recovering in a small, quiet  enclosure within our warm ICU. Ibises do very well in care, and the prognosis is cautiously optimistic.

You can see this ibis live on our BirdCam.

This may be the first ibis we’ve had at the center since a 2007 incident when a White-faced Ibis colony in a Sacramento Valley rice field was disturbed, leading us to care for 78 live babies and 100 eggs.

Read about this story via our archives.

Ibis Adoption

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Adult White-faced Ibis, photo by Dan Pancamo via Wikimedia Commons

Update: Gaby, one of our wonderful summer interns, snapped a few photos from the ibis’ surgery. The last photo shows the ibis waking up from anesthesia. This patient was put back in her ICU enclosure directly afterwards. IMG_8034

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July 28, 2014

Farewell to Jay Holcomb, 1951-2014

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On July 26, 2014, friends, family, colleagues and avian advocates from around the world gathered at Fort Mason in San Francisco to say goodbye to International Bird Rescue executive director Jay Holcomb, who passed away on June 10 at age 63. It was an afternoon of laughter, tears, friendship and fond remembrances.

Our guests came from five continents and seven countries: the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and the UK. Here are just some of the photos taken by our own Cheryl Reynolds (roll over image for photo caption).

 

Thank you to all who made in-kind donations for this event, including Fort Mason Center, Dawn Saves Wildlife, Publicis Kaplan Thaler, Whole Foods Market-Napa, Hint Water and Viansa Winery. Special thanks to contributors to the Jay Holcomb Legacy Fund.

And thank you to our friends at P&G and PKT in New York for putting together this wonderful tribute video of Jay:

Produced and edited by Hadleigh Arnst, PKT

You can support the Jay Holcomb Legacy fund by making a tax-deductible gift here.

Read Jay Holcomb’s obituary here.

July 23, 2014

Taking flight with Richmond youth!

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All photos © International Bird Rescue-Cheryl ReynoldsSNEG

With the help of some eager young bird watchers, a group of herons and egrets has a new lease on life!

On July 23, we teamed up with the Richmond Police Activities League (or “RPAL”) youth group to set free five Snowy Egrets and three Black-crowned Night Herons at Pt. Pinole Regional Park with a jaw-dropping view of the San Francisco Bay.

Snowy Egrets have long been a bird of special interest — they were hunted to near extinction in the early 20th century for their plumes and have rebounded thanks to the grit and determination of conservationists.

But prior to this summer, many Bay Area residents may have never heard of a Black-crowned Night Heron – that is, until a May tree-trimming incident in Oakland resulted in several orphaned herons falling from their nests. Local and national media descended on this story as five young patients were brought to our San Francisco Bay center with broken bones and scrapes. All were also too young to survive on their own, and were released in early June after several weeks in care.

This year, we’ve raised over 250 young Black-crowned Night Herons and over 130 Snowy Egrets at the San BCNHFrancisco Bay center — far above our usual levels.

So we were very excited this week to team up with Chevron Richmond and the East Bay Regional Parks District to host a release event with RPAL kids on a field trip to Pt. Pinole. After their carriers were carefully carried and opened by team RPAL, the birds flew up into a nearby eucalyptus tree or to some tall grass nearby for cover.

As part of our Snowy Egret project, the egrets released all have red leg bands with a unique identification number. These birds are numbered C44, C45, C46, C47 and C48. If you see these birds in the wild, please report your sighting by emailing us.

International Bird Rescue’s team loves to share our passion for animals with local youth. If you are a local youth group in the Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay Area and you’d like more information on a release outing, please email us!

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. is a longtime supporter of International Bird Rescue’s local and global efforts to save seabirds, and will sponsor the community release of these herons. “We are honored to be a part of the release of these herons and provide RPAL youth with the opportunity to learn more about our environment,” said Kory Judd, Refinery General Manager. “Partnerships with organizations such as the International Bird Rescue are an integral part of our commitment to protecting and preserving the environment.”

Preservation plans for the release site at Breuner Marsh, located within the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, include restoring wetlands and coastline prairie, as well as providing improved public access to the shoreline and a 1.5-mile extension of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Thanks for being our release pals today, RPAL!

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July 18, 2014

Patient of the week: American Avocet hatches at our Los Angeles center

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Video by Kelly Berry

Our patient of the week is this American Avocet chick, the first of 21 eggs in the care of our Los Angeles center team to hatch. Avocets are shorebirds common to the Pacific coast, and sport a most-striking upturned bill that the bird uses to “sweep” through the water to catch small invertebrates.

These eggs were transported to us from six abandoned nests in the area. We’ll keep you posted on the other eggs as well.

Avocet chicks are capable of feeding themselves soon after hatching. We give them several types of food, some of it live, including mealworms, guppies and tubifex worms.

Audio: American Avocets in Palo Alto, Calif., via Wikipedia

July 10, 2014

A new life begins …

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With a little help from a friend, a duckling makes its way into the world at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center. Video by Paul Berry, summer 2014. These two are currently among friends: By last count, the Southern California center has 22 ducklings and eggs in care.

July 9, 2014

Update on tern and chick found hooked together

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ELTETerns upon intake, photo by Kelly Berry

A number of loyal readers have asked us for an update on the Elegant Tern found hooked by fishing lure to one of the bird’s chicks. (Read more on this case at Care2.com and the Daily Breeze.)

Both birds continue to be in the care of our Los Angeles center team after a local biologist found them struggling on Terminal Island. They are recuperating together in a large enclosure.

The adult tern’s multiple wing injuries are healing well, and the bird is no longer in need of a wing wrap (we continue to administer antibiotics).

The baby’s wounds were more severe, with triple hooks embedded in the chick’s leg and wing. The bird may have suffered nerve damage to its leg, Dr. Rebecca Duerr reports, and the prognosis remains guarded.

Thank you all for your concern. We are giving these birds the best care possible — which is what they deserve!

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Photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr

July 8, 2014

What’s it like to intern with us? Just ask Leah.

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Our resident photographer Bill Steinkamp recently spent a morning at our Los Angeles center interviewing Leah, a summer intern as part of a unique program with the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation created for students with ties to the San Pedro and Wilmington communities in the L.A. harbor area. Check it out!

July 3, 2014

The week in bird news, July 3

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• The Audubon Society of Portland is fighting a proposal by the US Army Corps of Engineers to kill up to 16,000 Double-crested Cormorants (shown above) on an island in the Columbia River in order to aid survivability of juvenile salmon and steelhead. The proposed project, which would kill roughly 20 percent of the cormorant population, also has been roundly announced by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility; the group’s executive director, Jeff Ruch, called it a “crazy, crude and needlessly cruel plan that should go right back to the drawing board.” [The Oregonian]

• More troubling news on the 2014 population survey of Brown Pelicans on the West Coast, via UC-Davis. [Futurity]

• The first flight of a young Laysan Albatross is captured via live-streaming wildlife camera on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. [National Geographic News]

• Also on Kauai, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hawaiʻi Division of Forestry and Wildlife are working with a local utility company to save endangered Newell’s Shearwaters and Hawaiian Petrels.

How? By employing lasers attached to transmission poles and lines to keep the birds from crashing into them. Both birds have suffered a devastating reduction in their numbers in recent decades, largely due to feral cats and invasive species such as the mongoose. [Motherboard]

• A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change calls for listing the Emperor Penguin studyfindsemas an endangered species due to the encroaching effects of climate change. If sea ice continues to decline, at least two-thirds of Emperor Penguin colonies will shrink by more than half their current size by the year 2100, said lead author Stephanie Jenouvrier, a biologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “None of the colonies, even the southern-most locations in the Ross Sea, will provide a viable refuge by the end of the 21st century,” Jenouvrier said. [Phys.org]

• Exploding pollen alert! Read about the marvelous genus of flowers called Axinaea, which have a built-in appendage that explodes when clamped down on by a bird, dusting the animal with pollen. [Science Magazine]

• Scientists are using geolocators for Red Knots, currently considered a threatened species. “To date, all studies of shorebirds using geolocators have changed our conceptions about their migration strategies and the sites they use,” researchers wrote. “This study is no exception. It has revealed previously unknown stopover and wintering sites and a surprising lack of commonality between the eight focal birds in their migratory pathways.” [The Atlantic]

Tweets of the week: