Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

August 12, 2014

Our cottonball-sized patient of the week: Black Rail chick

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Photo by Isabel Luevano

Dear friends,

In a cozy, leafy incubator within International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center, you’ll find the smallest aquatic bird patient we’ve ever cared for.

This is an orphaned baby Black Rail, an elusive bird and a threatened species in California due to habitat loss. The cottonball-sized chick was found at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma, CA, and recently was transferred to International Bird Rescue from our friends and partners at WildCare in San Rafael.

BLRAIt’s our first baby Black Rail, and though we limit human interaction with our avian patients whenever possible, we’re all awestruck by just how tiny and precious this bird is.

For a bird so rarely seen, Black Rails have become increasingly common patients. Several adult Black Rails we’ve cared for this year have been rescued after being disturbed and attacked by pets. To help build scientific knowledge of this little-understood animal, we work with the Black Rail Project at the University of California-Berkeley to band these birds, which aids in post-release research.

International Bird Rescue’s team of experts is well equipped to care for sensitive species – endangered, threatened or near threatened. These include the Marbled Murrelet, Ashy Storm Petrel, Snowy Plover and Piping Plover.

Whether it’s a rare Black Rail or a plucky Mallard duckling, we need your help to keep our wildlife centers running year-round for thousands of animals brought to us each year. Please make a donation today. Your contribution will provide much-needed support for wild birds we all love.

Sincerely,

Barbara Signature

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

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Update: The San Francisco Chronicle is on the story …

August 9, 2014

Photographers in Focus: Karen Schuenemann

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Black-crowned Night Heron, all images © Karen Schuenemann, KarenSchuenemann.com

Karen-S-Photographer-in-FocusOf all the images we’ve seen of the Black-crowned Night Heron this summer — and there have been many — this photo of a solitary juvenile bird by photographer Karen Schuenemann is one of our favorites.

Our latest featured photographer, Schuenemann is an avid birder and photographer in the Los Angeles area, where she lives and works as a retail manager.

Her off-duty pursuits? “My personal mission is capturing the urban wildlife in Southern California,” Schuenemann says. “It often amazes me how wildlife survives squeezed in between construction, roads and people. I have spent many hours watching Peregrine Falcons nest on the cliffs of San Pedro. I’ve had the opportunity to watch the parents catch their food and return to feed the youngsters. To observe the youngsters grow and take their first flight has been truly breathtaking.”

To celebrate one of the nation’s most biodiverse regions for birds (L.A. – who knew?) we asked Schuenemann to share some of her favorite shots.

Great Blue Heron, Karen Schuenemann
Schuenemann: This is a landscape on a misty morning at Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach, CA. Photographed: Great Blue Heron.

Black Skimmers,  Karen Schuenemann
These Black Skimmers were foraging in the early evening at Bolsa Chica Wetlands. The calm waters allow prey to rise towards the surface and the Skimmers’ long lower mandibles allow them to locate the fish by touch and quickly shut their mouths and have their meal.

Burrowing Owl, Karen Schuenemann
Photographed near Chino, CA: I recently encountered several Burrowing Owls that live right next to the road in a dirt patch separating a power plant and a park!

Snowy Egret, Karen Schuenemann
Taken at Bolsa Chica Wetlands, this Great Egret was captured at sunrise.
Reddish Egret, Karen Schuenemann
An uncommon sighting at Bolsa Chica Wetlands, I watched this Reddish Egret perform its unusual feeding behavior before it flew over the pond.

Peregrine Falcon, Karen Schuenemann
Taken on the cliffs of the Palos Verdes peninsula, this young Peregrine Falcon had just fledged and was practicing its flying skills.
Forsters Terns, Karen Schuenemann
Upon return of the female, these juvenile Forster’s Terns rejoiced with loud calls and jumping towards the mother at Bolsa Chica, attempting to get the meal that she brought back.

Tree Swallows, Karen Schuenemann
Bird boxes set up at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary allow Tree Swallows to build their nests. Many possible nesting sites are destroyed in the forestry process of removing dead trees. Tree Swallows are common in open fields as well as marshes.

Double-crested Cormorant, Karen Schuenemann
Double-crested Cormorant: Taken at El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach, CA, this cormorant emerged suddenly with its catch of the day.

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This Brown Pelican was plunge diving and I captured the image before it brought its pouch out of the water. 

Snowy Egret 2, Karen Schuenemann
Great Egret at Bolsa Chica Wetlands, I entitled this image “Circle of Life.”  Since the population was decimated in the late 1800s and subsequently protected, the species is increasing. However, without habitats such as the Bolsa Chica Wetlands restoration, we wouldn’t have the population on the rise.

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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.

August 8, 2014

The week in bird news, August 8

Bird-Rescue

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Photo by Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia Commons

• New York-based Friends of Animals is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over a now-shuttered program to kill Snowy Owls at New York’s Kennedy International Airport. On Friday, a federal judge heard arguments from the animal rights group , which is seeking to change policies of avian removal at the nation’s sixth busiest airport, located adjacent a key habitat for aquatic birds and migratory species. Snowy Owls showed up from Washington, D.C. to Boston during this past (and frigid) winter. [New York Times]

• Also in the bird hazing department at major airports: A Dutch company is using 3-D printing to produce “raptor drones” that could be used to scare away birds and avoid bird strikes with commercial aircraft. [Motherboard]

• A mine tailings pond dam collapse in British Columbia spilled millions of cubic meters of effluent into local waterways. Preliminary water tests in the area met drinking water standards, and while B.C. Premier Christy Clark called the test results “promising,” she stipulated, “We are profoundly concerned about what happened.” Wigeons, pintails and grebes are all common species in the area. [Vancouver Sun]

• Rancor ensues over the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, decried as a “death trap” for birds. [Mother Jones]

• Marine plastic pollution research isn’t limited to the oceans. Scientists off the coast of Lebanon are studying the effect of microplastics in the eastern Mediterranean. [The Daily Star-Lebanon]

• An abundance of prey in California’s Monterey Bay has been attracting seabirds as well as Humpback Whales. Officials are now warning the public to keep distance from this gentle giants. [CBS-SF Bay Area]

• A terrific citizen science/workplace procrastination opportunity: Help Audubon study the Puffins of Maine! [ABC News]

• BirdCam we’re watching right now: Long-eared Owl Cam, Missoula MT via Explore.org. And check out our White-faced Ibis on our BirdCam Project!

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

August 7, 2014

We heartily endorse …

Bird-Rescue

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Photo by Richard Bartz

Let’s hear it for citizen science!

The National Audubon Society is seeking the eager eyes of birders everywhere to keep tabs on Puffins featured via its Explore.org webcam. The birds are considered threatened species in the state of Maine, where the webcam project is based.

Via the Associated Press:

There are about 1,000 pairs of the seabirds, known for their multi-colored beaks and clownish appearance, in Maine. Audubon says the number of puffin fledging chicks has declined in the last two years, possibly because their key food source, herring and hake, are leaving for cooler waters. Puffins are on the state’s threatened species list.

Audubon maintains three web cameras on Seal Island, a National Wildlife Refuge in outer Penobscot Bay, 22 miles off Rockland and one of the key puffin habitats in Maine. Volunteers are being asked to watch the puffins feed and answer questions about their feeding behavior, said Steve Kress, director of the National Audubon Society’s seabird restoration program.

Read the full story here.

August 7, 2014

Update: American Avocet at our Los Angeles center

Bird-Rescue

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AMAVPhoto by Bill Steinkamp

Norman Bates was right: The old “You eat like a bird” adage isn’t true — birds really do eat a tremendous lot!

The American Avocet orphan we recently profiled on this blog is growing up fast, thanks to a shorebird smorgasboard which includes live food.

Our volunteer staff photographer Bill Steinkamp took a few photographs of this patient during a recent visit.

Like all shorebirds, avocets are affected by coastal development and human disturbance, as was the case with this animal. Your support of International Bird Rescue directly benefits wonderful birds such as this little one!

August 2, 2014

An Elegant Tern Loses Her Baby to Fishing Hooks

Bird-Rescue
Terns in tangle after being hooked together last month in Southern California.

Elegant Terns in tangle after being hooked together last month in Southern California. Photo by Nick Liberato

Dear Friends,

If you work in this business, you learn to live with a lot of heartache. For every case ending in an awe-inspiring release, there’s an animal whose injuries were just too much to bear.

Some stories are a mix of both.

PBGR-Donate-buttonOur Los Angeles center team recently received this adult Elegant Tern and a tern chick hooked together by a multi-hook fishing lure.

Nick Liberato, a biologist who monitors a tern colony on nearby Terminal Island, found the birds and took the photo upon rescue. “I spotted them as I was ushering some stray chicks back through the chick fencing and into the main rookery,” Liberato says. “At first, I thought they were just tangled in monofilament [fishing line], but when I saw that multi-hooked lure puncturing both of them, I knew my tools wouldn’t cut it, so I got them over to you guys as quickly as possible.”

Our rehabilitation team separated mother from chick and extensively nursed the severe wounds of both animals. Sadly, the tern’s injuries had already become infected, and this baby bird did not survive. The mother healed remarkably after several weeks of care, and was recently released by our intern and volunteer team at Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach, CA. You can see video of this story below.

Fishing hooks and fishing line are such a pervasive problem for seabirds, and a leading cause of injury in the birds we care for at our California centers. If you fish, be mindful of where your gear ends up. We know there are many fishermen who are responsible, and it’s our wish that you’ll spread this message to others. We are grateful that you set a good example out on the water and at the cleaning stations.

And we can all do our part by picking up plastic pollution and discarded gear wherever we see it in the marine environment. You may end up saving a wild bird’s life.

Meanwhile, a particularly busy summer of orphaned birds, injured pelicans and oiled seabirds continues full steam. By last count, we have well over 300 injured, ill or orphaned birds at our wildlife hospitals. Please consider making a donation to support the birds we all love. A gift of $100, $50, $25 or even $10 goes a long way.

In gratitude,

Barbara Signature

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

A bittersweet release: Elegant Tern from International Bird Rescue on Vimeo.

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.