Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

March 26, 2014

In care this week: emaciated Brown Pelican


Photos by Dave Weeshoff

During the course of the year, we care for many Brown Pelicans found to be emaciated upon intake. Our first such patient came to International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center on BRPESunday via our partners at California Wildlife Center. It’s an adult female captured at Malibu’s Point Mugu, about 70 miles from our L.A. facility.

Currently, the bird is thermoregulating, self feeding and receiving supplemental hydration tubings, rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports.

Though this iconic bird of the Pacific Coast was removed from the Endangered Species List nearly five years ago, pelicans routinely need our help for many reasons: emaciation, domoic acid poisoning, fishing tackle injuries and oil contamination are all common problems we see.

Further reading on Brown Pelicans:

Keeping watch over brown pelicans, International Bird Rescue blog

Plight of the pelican, Los Angeles Times

Blue-Banded Pelican Project


March 22, 2014

A look back at Exxon Valdez, 25 years later


This week is the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez tragedy. To mark the occasion, we spoke with three of our emergency responders who were on the ground rescuing birds and otters in 1989.

It’s a really touching look at what an oiled wildlife responder does, and how this spill forever changed the nature of our work.

Special thanks to Exxon Valdez emergency responders Jay Holcomb, Curt Clumpner and Mimi Wood Harris.

March 21, 2014

Patient of the week: Great Blue Heron


GBHE B96-1-L
Amanda Lewis examining heron, photo by Kelly Berry

Our patient of the week is this Great Blue Heron, found in Culver City, CA unable to fly. GHBEThe bird was brought to us by our colleagues at California Wildlife Center.

During intake, the heron was found to have extensive bruising around the keel area, and X-rays showed that the bird had a keel fracture. But we’re pleased to report that it’s eating and that its fracture appears to be healing, rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports.

We care for a number of Great Blue Herons each year at both our centers in California. Last year, we treated a heron covered from beak to tail in thin oil after it was found at a Southern California refinery. What’s more, the petroleum had burned over one-quarter of the bird’s body.

After months of supportive care and multiple surgical procedures, we were thrilled to return this animal back to local wetlands. Click here to read its story.

GBHE B96-2
Photo by Kelly Berry

March 20, 2014

Give during our spring drive and your gift is DOUBLED!

Jay Holcomb

Basic-Membership 3 Sustaining-Members

Dear friends,

In a few days, we’ll be marking a sobering milestone: the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. Shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, the oil tanker struck Blight Reef in Prince William Sound, home to more than 220 bird species.

International Bird Rescue’s response team was crucial in efforts to save as many oiled birds as possible. Out of this tragedy, we developed new methods of transport and stabilization, and launched an international internship program that has trained people from around the globe on how to save animals affected by spills.

Thanks to the generosity of two longtime supporters, we’re pleased to launch our spring donor drive with a dollar-for-dollar match. We have a $25,000 goal for our spring drive through the first week of April. Your gift is crucial to ensuring we continue to give world-class care to birds in need, including this Great Horned Owl, recently brought to our Los Angeles center contaminated with a clear substance on its chest and under its wing.

Alex-and-Ani-Bangle-PromotionWhat’s more, sign up today as a monthly donor of $10 a month or more, and we’ve got a special gift for you: the feather bangle by Alex and Ani. It’s a beautiful way to show your support for the pelicans and other birds that inspire all of us every day. And you’ll be an official member of our Seabird Circle. Your pledge of $10 a month or more as a sustaining member makes it all possible.

Or, you can make a single gift by clicking here. Whatever the level, all our supporters are bird rescue heroes.

Thank you for your support,

Jay Holcomb-Signature

Jay Holcomb

P.S. – Also, read about our advocacy work with Audubon California calling for coordinated monitoring of the Brown Pelican in an Los Angeles Times op-ed here.

Great Horned Owl 2

March 19, 2014

National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Annual Symposium

Curt Clumpner

PT Workshop NWRA 2014 NWRA 2014 IMG_0511
International Bird Rescue staff give a presentation on physical therapy, photos by Curt Clumpner

Last week, 500+ wildlife rehabilitators came together from throughout North America (and in some cases from around the world) to exchange knowledge and experience, to connect with old colleagues and to meet new ones, and to re-energize themselves going into spring—what is known in this venue as “baby season.”

The National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Annual Symposium took place over five days outside of Nashville, TN. The conference included more than 100 presentations by wildlife rehabilitators, wildlife veterinarians, wildlife biologists and non-profit administrators. There were lectures, workshops and roundtables, often in four different rooms at any given moment, addressing everything from reptile nutrition, mammal fracture immobilization, improving volunteer programs, non-profit business models, cage design, social media use, aquatic bird rehabilitation, succession planning and more. It’s the largest and most important educational opportunity to support wildlife rehabilitators in their goal to constantly broaden their knowledge and improve the care they give to the orphaned, injured or displaced animals.

International Bird Rescue and its staff and volunteers believe deeply in this goal and have long supported NWRA’s mission and the conference. A number of International Bird Rescue’s staff members have served on NWRA’s Board of Directors over the last 20 years, and our veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, recently joined the board to continue that commitment.

In Nashville, our staff and volunteers were once again full participants, learning from others and also sharing their knowledge and experience with more than 12 hours worth of lectures and workshops. In addition to supporting the conference with our knowledge, we sponsored the physical therapy workshop, presented by Dr. Duerr and Julie Skoglund, Staff members Michelle Bellizzi and Curt Clumpner also presented during the symposium.

We see this as a great investment in both our own organization and in our goal to increase the capacity of wildlife rehabilitators everywhere to return wildlife to the wild. —Curt Clumpner

PT Workshop NWRA 2014 NWRA 2014 IMG_0507

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March 19, 2014

Photographers in Focus: Sara Silver


Mom and Little One
Mom and little one, Shollenberger Park. All images © Sara Silver


We first spotted photographer Sara Silver’s work when purusing photos of egrets raised by International Bird Rescue that have been released at Laguna de Santa Rosa in Northern California. Every year, colonies of Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons have made the towering eucalyptus trees on a narrow median in Santa Rosa, CA into their rookeries.

Sadly, many of their young fall from the nests. Were it not for a network of volunteers and bird organizations monitoring the site, those that survive the fall would almost certainly be killed by traffic. These releases are always a testament to the resolve of local bird lovers and the resiliency of these young animals. We’re proud to work with such organizations as the Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa.

We recently asked Silver to share some of her favorite avian shots, her methods and her favorite birding spots.

Photographic beginnings and early haunts 

Silver: My interest in photography began about 10 years ago with a simple digital camera. Now I spend as much of my free time out of doors with my camera (and dog) as I can. It was easy to get hooked.

Here in Northern California I am surrounded by natural beauty — wetlands, mountains, rolling hills, sandy beaches and rocky coastline. It is a relatively easy drive to the waterfalls and majesty of the northwest as well as the deserts in the southwest. I soon found the areas I enjoyed exploring were full of birds, and I quickly discovered that birds were not easy to photograph well. Next thing I knew I was taking a lot of bird pictures!

Black-crowned Night Heron

California Quail

Ladies man, Black-necked Stilt

Snow Geese at Grey Lodge Wildlife Refuge

I was challenged and started visiting some of the local bird hangouts – notably Shollenberger Park in Petaluma, Bodega Bay, and especially a particular group of trees not 2 minutes from my home — a nesting spot I call “The Egret Trees” for lack of a better phrase.

The Egret Trees

The Egret Trees in Santa Rosa are a grouping of mature trees in a residential neighborhood that serves as a rookery for Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Cattle Egrets as well as Black-crowned Night Herons. and has for many years. I discovered that it is a wonderful place to observe nesting behaviors and a perfect place to practice bird photography. Over the years, I have spent many enjoyable hours photographing birds in flight, nest building, parenting and sibling rivalry, bird-style.

Light as a feather

Reluctant Cattle Egret, Laguna de Santa Rosa, release of rehabilitated birds

This past year I had decided not to go to The Egret Trees as often anymore, after witnessing a couple of incidents which really upset me. One occurred in the natural course of an egrets/heron’s life, but one was the result of people failing to coexist with the seasonal “invasion” of birds. Suddenly it became too hard to spend time there. I just couldn’t do it.

Then a wonderful thing happened. I was invited to attend a bird release — these birds had been saved from an early demise, and nursed back to health, many from the very rookery where I had spent so much time. It was an awesome and positive experience.

Although it may be awhile before I return to the rookery, I have since been given a more hopeful outlook, thanks to the Bird Rescue Center, which rescues, treats and rehabs injured or “homeless” birds in Sonoma County and gives them a fresh start.

If you have the opportunity to observe a release of rehabilitated birds, go and feel good as the feathers fly and the birds make their way out for a second chance. I volunteer my services whenever asked, and hope to offer more in the future.

Duck portrait

Advice for the novice

If you take the time and make the effort to observe birds, it really does become less difficult to photograph them. It’s never going to be easy. but it is always going to be worthwhile. I think a photograph of a bird soaring through the air is a beautiful thing, but capturing the spirit of a bird is harder. My favorite example of this spirit is something I call that “Crazy Egret Sunset Dance”; if you’ve seen this behavior, you know exactly what I mean. The moves are part Boogaloo and part Bolero with wing flapping thrown in.

Favorite bird? It would be hard to pick just one. I love the silly ones, like Oystercatchers and egrets. Perhaps “all of them” is most true. Or maybe the answer is whichever bird is in my viewfinder at the moment.

Gull in Flight, Corte Madera Marsh

More on Sara Silver

On Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarasilver/

Website: http://sarasilver.com

A show of my work (my first) will be this summer at My Daughter the Framer inside of Corrick’s in downtown Santa Rosa. I hope you get a chance to stop by. For more information, email me.

Prints – I am a fine art printmaker. For print information, email me.

If you would like to be considered as a featured wildlife photographer for International Bird Rescue, or would like to recommend a photographer for this regular feature, please e-mail us with your submission.

And check out some of our previous featured photographers, including Jackie Wollner of Los Angeles, Yeray Seminario of Spain,  Graham McGeorge of Florida and Christopher Taylor of Venice, Calif.

March 14, 2014

The week in bird news, March 14


Short-tailed Albatross, photo via Wikimedia Commons/USFWS

• Sometimes it just takes a simple solution and an ounce of dedication. Though albatrosses face a barrage of threats to their existence, streamers made of plastic tubing are being employed on fishing lines to successfully deter species such as the vulnerable Short-tailed Albatross from becoming victims of longline commercial fishing. [National Geographic]

• We have zooplankton feces and aggregates of algae to thank for handling most heat-trapping CO2 emissions, according to research published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Complicated stuff, but thankfully the Christian Science Monitor has a reader-friendly breakdown. [CSM]

• We’re always heartened to see local media reports spreading the word about the dangers of fishing gear. Here’s a recent report from Florida. [Bradenton Herald]

• Biodiversity in the Arctic is facing a huge threat from climate change, scientists report. “An entire bio-climatic zone, the high Arctic, may disappear. Polar bears and the other highly adapted organisms cannot move further north, so they may go extinct. We risk losing several species forever,” says Hans Meltofte of Aarhus University, chief scientist of the report. [Phys.Org]

• A push to eliminate all Mute Swans in New York State is the subject of fierce and ongoing controversy between conservation scientists and some animal groups. [NY Now]

• Audublog has a great reminder on how you can protect the vulnerable Western Snowy Plover by becoming a beach steward in California. [Audublog]

Tweets of the week:





March 13, 2014

Patient of the week: Pied-billed Grebe


PBGRPied-billed Grebe, photo by Isabel Luevano

As our animal care team and volunteers can tell you, Pied-billed Grebes are born feisty, hard to catch from the diving bird pools due to their quickness and quite willing to chomp on a finger if approached. (“They bite like little alligators,” one rehab technician tells us.) But we all admire their moxie.

We currently have several species of grebes on our San Francisco Bay center’s BirdCam, including this adult Pied-billed Grebe. This bird was found in Santa Cruz with puncture wounds consistent with a predator attack. The grebe is doing well in an outdoor diving bird pool.

Also in this pool are two Western Grebes, an Eared Grebe and a Horned Grebe. (The one non-grebe impostor? A Canvasback.) You can read more on this amazing family of aquatic birds at Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

March 10, 2014

Release! Rhinoceros Auklets, Glaucous-winged Gull and a Common Murre


Rhinocerous Auklet at SF Bay Center banded for release
Rhinoceros Auklet in breeding plumage, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Residents of the North Pacific, Rhinoceros Auklets are also known as “Unicorn Puffins” for the small horn extension on their beaks, present in both males and females during breeding season. We’ve had two of these birds in care at our San Francisco Bay center for several weeks.

One of these birds was suffering from a wing injury, while the other was emaciated upon intake. Both had been part of our “seabird menagerie” on BirdCam, and were released over the weekend near Half Moon Bay where they were originally found. Below, volunteer Colin Pierce does the release honors.

Rhinocerous Auklet at SF Bay Center banded for release
Rhinoceros Auklet in non-breeding plumage, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

RHAU release2


Also on the release docket: this first-winter plumage Glaucous-winged Gull, healed after a fractured radius, and a beautiful Common Murre!


Common Murre at SF Bay Center ready for release

Common Murre at SF Bay Center banded for release  Murre Release

March 7, 2014

Sora Rail with clavicle fracture


Photo by Isabel Luevano

Sora Rails — marsh-dwelling birds of the family Rallidae — are fairly common patients at both our wildlife centers in California. This Sora was found unable to walk or stand, and was transferred to our San Francisco Bay center from nearby Lindsay Wildlife Museum last week.

Upon arrival, the bird had regained the ability to stand and walk, but was found to have a clavicle fracture. The fracture is now healing thanks to a body wrap.