Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

March 14, 2015

Update: Mystery Goo Bird Numbers

Bird-Rescue
Horned Grebe recuperating in one of our pools. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Horned Grebe, cleaned of mystery goo, recuperating in pool at San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Nearly two months after 323 mystery goo seabirds arrived, International Bird Rescue is still treating the last of the bird patients affected by this unusual contaminant.

19 seabirds, including, Surf Scoters, Buffleheads and Horned Grebes are still among those in care. A total of 154 cleaned, healthy birds have now been returned to the wild.

The birds had their feathers coated by a sticky, non-petroleum substance that grounded them along the East Bay shore of San Francisco Bay.

Mystery Goo Numbers (as of March 14, 2015)

323 = Brought to center

154 = Released to date

110 = Humanely euthanized

40 = Dead on Arrival

19 = Birds still in care (mainly Surf Scoters)

Note: About 170 birds were collected dead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

Bufflehead awaits vet clearance for release. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Bufflehead awaits vet clearance for release. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

The 19 birds that still remain in care are those that entered our San Francisco Bay center with serious but treatable medical problems. These included severe emaciation, anemia, or injuries.

Many of these rescued birds also came to the center with pressure sores to their hocks or toes from being stranded on hard land. These injures can take months of care and healing. Other patients had surgeries for keel injuries but most of these healed quickly.

Background

In mid-January hundreds of birds were rescued from Alameda south to Hayward in San Francisco Bay. Each was coated with an unknown tacky substance dubbed “mystery goo”.

Female Surf Scoter. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Female Surf Scoter. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

On Thursday, February 12, state and federal labs concluded that the substance that coated birds includes a mixture of non-petroleum-based fats or oils. Read the full press release from California Department Fish and Wildlife: http://ow.ly/J4bZp

With still no responsible party identified to help cover the cost of bird care, International Bird Rescue’s funded most of response costs with the help of the public and foundation donations. Bird Rescue has spent $150,000 on the response and continues to rely on public support to help with costs associated with this unusual contaminant response. Donate Now

Media reports

As scientists work to identify mystery goo, rescued birds return home, Los Angeles Times, March 1 ,2015

 

March 11, 2015

Saying thanks to some very helpful foundations

Laurie Pyne

somerhalderlogoInternational Bird Rescue would like to thank the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and the Summerlee Foundation, Annie Lee Roberts Emergency Rescue Fund for their generous funding that helped to rescue and treat the hundreds of birds that were coated in “mystery goo” in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The caring and concerned teams at these foundations rapidly responded to our emergency request for life-saving support. We are deeply grateful to each of them and to all of you that helped these birds get back to the wild. We couldn’t have done it without you.ConFundLogo

 

 

 

 

summerlee-foundation

 

March 3, 2015

The Release Files: Bonaparte’s Gull

Rebecca Duerr
Bonaparte's Gull takes flight. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Bonaparte’s Gull takes flight in Suisun Marsh. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

We recently returned a Bonaparte’s Gull to the wild after this patient was treated in the midst of the “Mystery Goo Response”.

This Bonaparte’s Gull was introduced as a Patient of the Week December 6, 2014. The bird was found at Silver Oak Winery in Sonoma County, and arrived with a very large laceration exposing its thigh muscles from hip to mid leg (3 inches long on a 120 gram bird!). It also had severe damage to its right foot.

BOGUThe thigh wound was surgically closed. The middle toe was not salvageable and was amputated, while the outer toe had a laceration that was sutured closed, and an injury to the inner toe’s first toe joint was stabilized with a splint for two weeks.

This bird’s injuries were consistent with what we have seen before in birds that have run into razor wire. After two months of treatment, the thigh laceration and foot injuries have healed very nicely and the bird grew new feathers on the new skin at the former thigh wound.

This resilient little gull spent the last few weeks flying and eating very well while growing in new feathers. It was released last month at the Suisun Marina.

– Rebecca Duerr, Staff Veterinarian, International Bird Rescue

Bonapartes-release-over-water-web

February 26, 2015

Honoring school kids fundraising efforts with a bird release

Bird-Rescue

Pelicans-Released-Alameda-PDS“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way…” 
~Greatest Love Of All song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed

On a beautifully clear Thursday morning we honored a special group of caring third graders from Park Day School in Oakland. We inviting them to a bird release to celebrate their fundraising prowess after they collected $603.30 for the Mystery Goo seabird response.

Thank you PDS kids and their teachers Renee Miller, Mona Halaby, and Jeanine Harmon!

All photos by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

Pelicans-Alameda-Release-SF-skyline

Among the birds released: Four Brown Pelicans at Encinal Beach in Alameda.

"Park Day School bird release 2/16/15 at Encinal Beach Alameda"

Park Day School students present ceremonial $603.30 check from fundraising efforts for mystery goo birds.

"Park Day School bird release 2/16/15 at Encinal Beach Alameda"

February 20, 2015

Honoring Volunteers: Release of 18 More Clean, Healthy Mystery Goo Birds

Bird-Rescue

2-SUSC-Release-Feb-20-2015-CR-webToday we gave thanks to some of our wonderful volunteers who were so instrumental in returning clean, healthy mystery goo birds back to the wild. As part of the celebration, 18 more seabirds were released at Fort Baker in Sausalito Friday morning.

Volunteer-Release-Feb-20-2015-CR-web

Volunteers celebrate the release the seabirds, including the Surf Scoter (above). Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

With this release, the total of clean birds returned to the wild is now 128. Another 56 birds are still in care at our San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield.

More than 300 volunteers from all over California came together to help in the care of hundreds of birds that began arriving for the East Bay on January 16, 2015 coated in a mystery substance. Read more

We’d like to again thank all the groups that sent staff and volunteers, including: Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), East Bay Regional Parks, Wildlife Emergency Services, Peninsula Humane Society, Baykeeper, Audubon California, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, Lindsey Wildlife Museum, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, OSPR, Bird Ally X, Wildlife Care Association, Native Songbird Care and Education Center, Pacific Wildlife Care, Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, Mount Diablo Audubon, Golden Gate Audubon, Native Animal Rescue, SPCA for Monterey County, Napa Wildlife, Marine Mammal Center, California Waterfowl Association, Beach Watch and SeaWorld.

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February 17, 2015

Mystery Goo Partially Identified, Cost Nears $150,000 To Rescue Birds

Bird-Rescue
"Gummy Bear" the gooed Horned Grebe was released on February 12.

“Gummy Bear” the gooed Horned Grebe was released on February 12 at Fort Baker in Sausalito. Photo by Russ Curtis

As the mysterious goo that affected seabirds in San Francisco Bay is a little closer to being identified, International Bird Rescue continues to treat affected birds a month after more than 500 hypothermic and dying birds were discovered.

With no responsible party to help with the cost of bird care, International Bird Rescue’s finances are strained. To date, the non-profit organization has spent $150,000 on the response. It continues to rely on public support to help with costs associated with this unusual contaminant response. Donate Now

“We really need the public to step up and support the care of these beautiful seabirds,” said Barbara Callahan, interim executive director of International Bird Rescue.

On Thursday, Feb 12th, state and federal labs concluded that the substance that coated birds includes a mixture of non-petroleum-based fats or oils. Read the full press release from California Department Fish and Wildlife: http://ow.ly/J4bZp

See: San Francisco Chronicle story: Scientists close in on IDing bird-killing mystery goo

Volunteer Kathy Koehler and husband, Bill, release female Surf Scoters.

Volunteer Kathy Koehler and husband, Bill, release female Surf Scoters. Photo by Russ Curtis

“We are so grateful that the goo has been identified,” said Barbara Callahan. “This was a vexing substance to remove from the birds, but we succeeded even though we couldn’t identify the substance.”

The goo covered the feathers of the seabirds, destroying their ability to stay warm, but no mystery goo was found to be on the beach or in the water, which deepened the mystery.

Each of the birds was medically stabilized and then cleaned using a combination of baking soda and vinegar, followed by washing with Dawn detergent, and rinse to repair waterproofing.

The birds treated include: Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Buffleheads, Common Goldeneyes, and Scaups. More than 70% the bird affected were Surf Scoters.

The birds were mainly rescued beginning on January 16, 2015 along the East Bay shoreline from Alameda south to Hayward. All of the live birds came in to IBR’s San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield, CA.

110 Birds Have Been Returned to the Wild

On Thursday, February 12, six more cleaned birds were released at Fort Baker in Marin County. Included in the release was a Horned Grebe, dubbed “Gummy Bear” by clinic staff. This bird came into care early in the response completely covered in goo. Photo (above) shows before and after cleaning. See “Gummy Bear” video

Horned Grebe aka "Gummy Bear" came with super gunked feathers, 3 weeks later it was released clean.

Horned Grebe aka “Gummy Bear” came with super gunked feathers, 3 weeks later it was released clean. [See Larger Photo] Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Of the 323 brought in for care, 110 now have been released back to the San Francisco Bay. Another 78 birds are still in care. 135 died in care.

170 birds were collected dead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

The birds that still remain in care are those that entered our San Francisco Bay Center with serious but treatable medical problems. These included severe emaciation, anemia, or injuries.

Many of the rescued birds came to the center with pressure sores to their hocks or toes from being stranded on hard land, and these may take up to 2 or 3 months to treat. Several dozen birds have also had surgeries for keel injuries but most of these healed quickly. Some of these have already been released; others should be ready to go soon.

No new goo-covered, live birds have been found since Thursday, January 22.

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Male Surf Scoters, 70% of the seabirds rescued, fill pool at our San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Mark Russell

February 10, 2015

Patient of the Week: American White Pelican

Bird-Rescue
American White Pelican in care at our Los Angeles Center. Photo by  Kylie Clatterbuck

American White Pelican in care at our Los Angeles Center. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck

Not all our birds in care were part of the San Francisco Bay mystery goo response. Last month our Southern California center received an American White Pelican from the Los Angeles County Animal Control. It was found in a weakened state at La Mirada Park.

This beautiful bird was very lethargic, not thermoregulating, and extremely thin. The Pelican also had a small laceration to its right wing that is currently undergoing wound management.

As of this week, the White Pelican is now living in our large outdoor aviary and gained quite a bit of weight over the 3 weeks in care. It weighs in at over 7,000g (15.4 lbs.)

Its wing wound has healed up well and was discontinued off of medication this week. Our Los Angeles Center staff is hopeful that it release this bird within the next week.

 

February 7, 2015

Patient of the Week: “Gummy Bear” Horned Grebe Mystery Goo Survivor

Bird-Rescue
Photo Horned-Grebe-Before-After-Mystery-Goo

Horned Grebe, left, before cleaning and after swimming in pool at our San Francisco Bay Center. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

We received more than 300 seabirds coated in the East Bay Mystery Goo and one particular Horned Grebe, dubbed by our clinic staff as “Gummy Bear”, really made an impression.

“Gummy Bear” was brought to our San Francisco Bay Center three weeks ago during the first wave of East Bay birds contaminated by the stick goo. In the video to the right, you can see that even the towel used to rescue the bird had to be carefully peeled off the bird’s matted feathers.

After cleaning the messy gunk from its feathers, it was discovered that this bird had abrasions to its elbows. After this Horned Grebe heals, “Gummy Bear” is expected to be released next week.

By the way, we don’t usually name our birds in care, but in this case it just stuck.

See earlier post: Mystery substance threatens seabirds in the San Francisco Bay

February 4, 2015

Nothing like a bird release to lift the spirits

Bird-Rescue

Surf-Scoter-flies-Mystery-Goo-released-1-4-15-Oakland-webA Surf Scoter flies free at the Oakland Port Wednesday. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Twenty more birds cleaned of the East Bay mystery goo were released Wednesday morning at the Oakland Port.

Dunlins, a shorebird prevalent in San Francisco Bay, is released in Oakland.

Dunlins, a shorebird prevalent in San Francisco Bay, is released in Oakland.

“There’s nothing like a bird release to lift the spirits,” said Russ Curtis, spokesperson for International Bird Rescue. “Our reward is seeing these beautiful, clean birds returned to their natural habitat in good health.”

This is the first release in the East Bay where nearly 3 weeks ago hundreds of birds were rescued coated with a sticky, unknown contaminant. The birds were released along the sand dunes at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park at the Oakland Port.

With this release, the total of birds returned to the wild is now 101. More than 110 birds still remain in care at our San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield, CA.

Among those released: 11 Surf Scoters, 4 Dunlins, 4 Western Sandpipers, and 1 Eared Grebe.

The mystery goo event began on January 16, 2015, when staff members at the East Bay Regional Park District began rescuing seabirds beached on local shores and covered in a thick substance. The affected birds lost their critical ability to stay waterproof in the cool San Francisco Bay waters.

Over the last several weeks each of the birds was medically stabilized and then washed using a combination of baking soda and vinegar, followed by washing with Dawn dishwashing soap.

To date, 323 birds were delivered to our center. 110 where DOA or died in care. Another 170 birds were collected dead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

State and private labs are still testing the goo feather samples. Earlier testing ruled out petroleum products as the culprit. See: Scientists Struggle to Identify Gooey Substance, Planet Experts

Since there is no responsible party to pay for this response, International Bird Rescue is shouldering the complete cost of caring for these seabirds. Donations are always appreciated.

Marge-Elliott-Julia-Winiarski-carrying-birds-2-15-2015-release-web
Some of our volunteers, Marge Elliott, left, and Julia Winiarski, carry birds to release site.

February 1, 2015

132 seabirds, once covered in goo, still need your help

Barbara Callahan

Photo of Surf Scoter release mystery goo 2015 response

Clean release: First 24 birds, including Surf Scoters, were released at Fort Baker on January 28th. Photo by Russ Curtis

Dear friends,

On behalf of my entire team, I’d like to thank all of you for supporting our work rescuing hundreds of seabirds affected by the San Francisco mystery goo. From our volunteers and supporters to the general public and the media, we’ve been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support for the care of these birds.

Though we’ve been thrilled to release 81 healthy seabirds thus far back into the wild, we still have 132 birds in care that will need many more days of support at our San Francisco Bay center. The testing of goo-covered feathers continues at government and private laboratories. But the substance remains a mystery.

SOS-Greater-Scaup-mystery-event-2015-CRAnd our bills for these animals, as well as non-“gooed” wild birds in our care for other injuries, continue to mount. The more time passes, the less likely that a culprit behind the dumping of this substance (if it is indeed manmade) will be found and held financially accountable. It’s people like you who have sustained us. If you haven’t yet donated and are wondering if we still need your support, the answer is Yes.

This all started on January 16, 2015, when our colleagues at East Bay Regional Park District began seeing several species of seabirds beached on local shores and covered in a thick substance. The birds had lost their critical ability to stay waterproof in the cold San Francisco Bay waters.

Photo of incoming Bufflehead

Bufflehead coated in the mystery goo. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Each of the birds was medically stabilized and then washed using a combination of baking soda and vinegar, followed by washing with Dawn detergent.

To date, 323 birds were delivered to our center. Another 151 birds were collected dead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

Our staff and more than 300 volunteers worked overtime to give these birds the best chance possible to survive. If you haven’t already, please consider supporting our work. Because this was not a spill caused by an identifiable company or party, we are have been shouldering all the costs regarding this mystery event.

Flotilla-Surf-Scoters-BirdCam-650px

Flotilla of Surf Scoters are among the 132 birds still in care.

Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated. The care of these birds, including Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Common Goldeneyes and Scaups, is lengthy and expensive. View our BirdCam

With your support we are committed as ever, to ensuring “Every Bird Matters”.

Sincerely,

Barbara Signature

 

 

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

Shorebirds-avairy-mystery-2015-CR-640px

Shorebirds, cleaned of goo, were some of our smallest patients. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

January 27, 2015

Alert: First Release Mystery Goo Birds Scheduled For Wednesday @ 10 AM

Bird-Rescue

SOS-Greater-Scaup-mystery-event-2015-CR

Great news: We’ll be releasing the first birds cleaned of mystery goo near Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito on Wednesday, January 28 @ 10 AM.

Mystery Goo Birds Release Event Information

Bird-Rescue-Relase-location-mystery-2015WHEN: Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015 10:00 AM

WHERE: Fort Baker – 435 Murray Circle, Sausalito, CA 94965

RELEASE: at boat launch

PARKING: Discovery Museum

WHO:  International Bird Rescue personnel will be available for questions/interviews

Media contact: Barbara Callahan, 907.230.2492 or 415.533.1357; Barbara.Callahan@bird-rescue.org

International Bird Rescue will release the first of the birds that came into care covered in mystery goo from the East Bay over the last 10 days. No new birds have been found to have mystery goo on them since Thursday, January 22, 2015.

The birds that have been in care have under gone expert medical stabilization, cleaning and re-waterproofing and are now the first group is well enough to be released back to the wild.

To ensure the birds have an immediate food source, they are being released at Fort Baker where there is a large herring spawn going on and tens of thousands of other seabirds of the same species in the area feeding.

The East Bay is considered clean, however, as no new goo-covered birds have been found since Thursday and there are thousands of seabirds in the East Bay that were not impacted from the goo.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 6.03.24 PMWe appreciate all the outpouring of public support. Your good words, donations and volunteer efforts continue to make the difference!

You can still support us by donating now. We continue to care for hundreds of birds at our San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield, CA.

January 25, 2015

Mystery Goo Response: Over 320 Birds Admitted; Donations Still Needed

Bird-Rescue

Photo of Surf Scoters at International Bird Rescue
Clean birds: Surf Scoters after washing. Photos by Russ Curtis – International Bird Rescue

Dear Supporters,

It has been more than a week now since the first seabirds began arriving at our Northern California center coated in a sticky, unknown substance. We’ve been inundated with a total of 322 birds that were rescued on San Francisco Bay.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 6.03.24 PMWe still need your support to care for these seabirds! Since there is no responsible party for this event, our organization is shouldering the entire cost of this mystery goo event. We estimate the cost of caring for these coated birds is running $9,500 per day.

As of today, the state has still not determined what this substance is. They have ruled out petroleum oil products as the culprit.

Read: No state or federal aid for handling bird-killing goo emergency, San Francisco Chronicle

Pools-IBR-SF-Bay-Center-mystery-2015-eblast

Pools are full of birds at the center in Fairfield, CA.

In the meantime, a dedicated group of volunteers is assisting our staff as we continue to treat and clean these beautiful birds. Updated 8:00 PM: A total of 244 have already been washed and most are recuperating in the dozens of pools at our San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield, CA.

Most of the birds affected are Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Scaups and Common Goldeneyes.

Check out our live BirdCam with some of our seabird patients on the mend.

We want to thank all the volunteers that have given so generously by contributing their time and efforts to help us. They come from organizations all over California and include: Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), East Bay Regional Parks, Wildlife Emergency Services, Peninsula Humane Society, Baykeeper, Audubon California, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, Lindsey Wildlife Museum, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, OSPR, Bird Ally X, Wildlife Care Association, Native Songbird Care and Education Center, Pacific Wildlife Care, Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, Mount Diablo Audubon, Golden Gate Audubon, Native Animal Rescue, SPCA for Monterey County, Napa Wildlife, Marine Mammal Center, California Waterfowl Association, Beach Watch and SeaWorld.

Other organizations have donated money and items to help us, including: The Hofmann Family Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Ian Somerhalder Foundation, Cargill, Clif Bar, Simple Green, and Whole Foods, Napa.

Photo of a Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye shares a pool with Surf Scoters.

We would also like to thank all our supporters who have responded with gratitude and monetary support. The San Francisco Bay’s wildlife holds a special place in their hearts and we are doing our best to honor their trust.

Sincerely,

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

PS – Donations can be made online or by mail to:
International Bird Rescue
Attn: Mystery Goo Response
4369 Cordelia Rd
Fairfield CA 94534

If you prefer to make your gift via phone, please call (510) 289-1472.

Panoramic photo of pool area at International Bird Rescue
Panoramic photo of pools used to house hundreds of seabirds at our SF Bay Center.

January 21, 2015

Lab Test Rules Out PIB – Mystery Goo Bird Rescue Continues

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Horned-Grebe-cleaning-web

Horned Grebe covered in mystery goo gets a good washing. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

State lab tests today ruled out polyisobutylene (PIB) as the cause of the mystery goo that is injuring and killing birds in San Francisco Bay.

Since Friday, January 16, International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center has received more than 300 seabirds with gooey feathers caused by an unknown sticky substance. The rubber cement like goop mats the seabirds feathers causing them to lose their insulation and become hyperthermic.

To clean the birds properly, crews are using baking soda and vinegar to loosen the goo, followed by Dawn detergent and warm water to wash out the substance.

Birds rescued are coming primarily from the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay – from Alameda south to Hayward. Several Surf Scoters were found early this week on the west side of the bay in Foster City.

As the search for clues for the exact cause of the goo, International Bird Center continues to care for a growing number of affected birds. The numbers to date include 321 birds admitted with 271 live in care. A total of 135 have been washed.

California Fish and Wildlife officials are reporting another 200 birds have been found dead in the field.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 6.03.24 PMBecause substance’s origin has not been determined, International Bird Rescue is funding this response with the generous support of public donations.

“We estimate that it costs $8,000 each day to pay for the care and washing of these seabirds, ” said Barbara Callahan, interim Executive Director of International Bird Rescue. “And we so appreciate the public’s support of these beautiful birds.”

After washing Buffleheads and Horned Grebe wade in one of the pelagic pools at the San Francisco Bay Center.

After washing Buffleheads and Horned Grebe wade in one of the pelagic pools at the San Francisco Bay Center.

Most of the seabirds affected are diving birds, including Surf Scoters, Buffleheads, Goldeneyes and Horned Grebes. A few shorebirds have also been rescued.

The search continues for stricken seabirds. Today San Francisco Baykeeper, a local conservation group, is helping International Bird Rescue by organizing additional volunteer groups to do more shoreline searches for ailing birds. Learn more

Spot an impacted bird? Report it through our an online form for public reports.

Media reports

Scientists continue to puzzle over sticky goo contaminating birds, KTVU-TV

Mystery deepens: Prime bird death suspect ruled out, SF Chronicle

 

 

 

January 20, 2015

Mystery goo continues to affect seabirds on San Francisco Bay

Bird-Rescue
A Dunlin, a very small shorebird, is washed of a mystery contaminant at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

A Dunlin, a very small shorebird, is washed of a mystery contaminant at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

As crews continue to search the shoreline of San Francisco Bay for goo-fouled seabirds, the number of birds in care continues to climb. At least 262 live birds are now in care Tuesday morning.

The seabirds, including Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Buffleheads, Scaups and smaller shorebirds have been collected along the East Bay shoreline. This includes areas in Alameda, especially around Bay Farm Island Shoreline Park south to San Leandro Marina and around Hayward.

There have been confirmed reports of a handful of listless Scoters spotted in Foster City on the western side of San Francisco Bay.

To assist the collections affected birds, International Bird Rescue set up an online form for public reports of beached birds suspected to be covered in the substance. Members of the public are not advised to collect birds at this time, given the unknown nature of the substance.

Surf Scoter cleaned of goo is recuperating in a pelagic pool at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Surf Scoter cleaned of goo is recuperating in a pelagic pool at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

The total of collected seabirds has reached 380 as of early Tuesday morning. This includes 80 found dead. 300 birds have been transported to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center located in Fairfield, CA. At least 262 are alive and 55 have been washed of the unknown sticky substance as of Monday evening. 38 birds transported to the center have been pronounced dead. At least 75 birds have been washed of the substance.

The birds are coated in sticky, gooey mystery substance that destroys feather waterproofing, which can cause hypothermia and death. A state lab is working to determine what the substance might be.

Since the substance’s origin has not been determined, International Bird Rescue is paying for all emergency seabird treatment costs. We are asking the public for support to save these precious seabirds.

“We’re so thankful for the public’s contributions to help us pay for this unusual response,” said Barbara Callahan, International Bird Rescue’s interim director. “As a small non-profit with limited resources, we depend on donations to fund this very unusual bird rescue event.”
Button donate to save seabirds

Donate online now

Or mail a check to:

International Bird Rescue
Attn: Mystery Goo Response
4369 Cordelia Road
Fairfield CA 94534

On late Friday, January 16, 2015 International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center received a large influx of birds found on both land and water by East Bay Regional Park District staffers. They were covered in a sticky mess of matted feathers.

International Bird Rescue has been saving seabirds and other aquatic birds around the world since 1971. Bird Rescue’s team of specialists operates two year-round aquatic bird rescue centers in California, which care for over 5,000 birds every year, and has led oiled wildlife rescue efforts in over 200 oil spills in more than a dozen countries.

Media reports

S.F. Bay bird rescue: Mystery goo bedevils experts, San Francisco Chronicle

Sticky situation: Mystery goop endangers birds in California, CBS-TV

Mysterious Bird Deaths due to Oily Substance, KRON4-TV

Two Surf Scoters, one female, left, and the other a male, enjoy a special moment after being cleaned of mystery goo at San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Two Surf Scoters, one female, left, and the other a male, enjoy a special moment after being cleaned of mystery goo at San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

January 19, 2015

Update: Mystery substance’s toll on Bay Area seabirds rises sharply

Bird-Rescue

Photo of Horned Grebe being washed
A contaminated Horned Grebe is washed at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center, photos by Cheryl Reynolds

FAIRFIELD, CA (Jan. 19, 2015 – Updated 9:15 pm) — The total number of seabirds reached 242 found on East Bay shores covered in an unidentified sticky substance the International Bird Rescue reported Monday night.

Of the 242 seabirds in care, 55 have been washed of the contaminant. 187 are being stabilized before they can be washed. At least 25 dead birds came to the Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center located in Fairfield.

Button donate to save seabirdsThree search-and-collection teams have found a significant number of seabirds affected by the substance near Bay Farm Island Shoreline Trail in Alameda, in addition to shoreline areas in San Leandro and Hayward.

“Our team anticipates washing between 40 and 60 seabirds on Monday, and we expect many more to be transported to our center,” said International Bird Rescue interim executive director Barbara Callahan.

“The good news is that we have modified our wash protocol and it appears to be working on healthier birds,” Callahan said. “However, some of the birds that have recently arrived are in much poorer condition, likely because they’ve had this substance on their feathers for several days now.”

International Bird Rescue has now set up an online form for public reports of beached birds suspected to be covered in the substance. Members of the public are not advised to collect birds at this time, given the unknown nature of the substance.

julie-margie-washing-seabird-mystery-2015-webOfficials are investigating whether the substance could be polyisobutylene, or PIB, which is sticky, odorless, largely colorless, and killed thousands of seabirds in the U.K. in 2013. “While on its face, this substance seems very similar to reports from the U.K. two years ago, we won’t know definitively until lab tests are completed,” Callahan said.

Surf Scoters, Buffleheads and Horned Grebes continue to be the most commonly affected species.

Because no responsible party for the incident has been identified, International Bird Rescue is currently paying for all costs associated with the event and is seeking the support of the public to care for these birds. Contributions can be made online at birdrescue.org.