Who are some of the folks most interested in preventing oil spills and cleaning up injured wildlife? That’s right: The Next Generation!
Recently, our Response Services Manager Michelle Bellizzi, met with a talented and determined young group of burgeoning scientists from Pennsylvania via video conference.
These young up-and-comers are investigating new products to remove oil from feathers. They hope someday this will make oiled bird care easier on the birds and on the people that clean them. Because we’ve had lots of experience perfecting the washing of birds using Dawn dishwashing liquid, they looked to us at International Bird Rescue for our perspective.
One of the reasons this group also sought out Bird Rescue is that they are competing in the First Lego League – an international robotics competition, with a Regional Championship in Philadelphia this weekend. One of the features of this league is to work on a project related to the annual theme. This year’s theme was “Animal Allies.” Their team name is called Bird SPA (short for Sodium Polyacrylate).
We at Bird Rescue are always seeking the best ways to care for oiled wildlife, and are excited to hear that youthful allies also are searching for new discoveries and inventions!
Volunteers join Bird Rescue’s Executive Director JD Bergeron, second from right, during a bird watching trip to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
Our wonderful International Bird Rescue volunteers help every day in so many ways. To honor their commitment, IBR Executive Director, JD Bergeron helped organize a bird walk last week to to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. In the busy world of rescuing birds, a trip for relaxation and connecting with nature is so very important.
During the walk, volunteers from our Los Angeles Center scanned the reserve waterways located in Huntington Beach, CA. The payoff was great: The group spotted 41 different bird species, including a very handsome Reddish Egret and a striking Bufflehead.
Thanks to the excellent wildlife photographer Katrina Plummer for capturing this outing.
Female Surf Scoter is recuperating in the pelagic pool at our San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds
Every week we get injured or sick birds delivered to us by the concerned public. This week we want to highlight one such rescue – someone who went above and beyond to deliver a sick Scoter to our San Francisco Bay Center.
A little attitude during first day of care is a good sign that this scoter is on road to recovery. Photo by Jennifer Linander
Emily Foden drove more than four hours this week from the town of Westport located on the storm battered coast of Mendocino County. Her cargo? A female Surf Scoter.
Emily’s friend found the bird January 20th on Rockport Beach in need of care. Knowing that Emily worked with birds (owls) she asked for help. Emily noticed the Scoter was very cold, so she warmed her up and offered her some fluids. Turning to the internet Emily then did some research to find the best place for care. The good folks at Sonoma Wildlife in Petaluma referred her to us. It took her over 4 hours to bring the Scoter to Fairfield.
When the Scoter arrived senior rehab tech, Jennifer Linander, opened the box she was huffing, but only little thin and dehydrated. As Jennifer noted the bird was BAR for “Bright, Alert and Responsive.”
Emily said she just “wanted her to have the best chance” for survival. For going the extra mile we want to say thanks to Emily and the hundreds of other folks that go long distances in effort to help save our treasured wildlife.
Earlier this month, a Brown Pelican with the blue band “N39” came back into care, after two previous stays with us.
This individual, who was last in care in last July for an abdominal puncture and a toe injury, was released last summer after those wounds healed. He first arrived in care nearly seven years ago at our San Francisco wildlife center after being stranded on January 29, 2010 in Monterey, California. The bird was emaciated, anemic, and had contaminated feathers. He was treated and released with the blue band “A91” in mid-February of that same year. His blue band was damaged and therefore was replaced during his second stay, and he became “N39”.
He has been spotted many times over the years through our blue-banded pelican reporting tool:
• Santa Barbara, 4/1/2010
• San Pedro, 2/9/2012
• Westport, WA 7/27, 7/31, and 8/13/2013
• Marina del Rey, 4/5/2014
• Ballona Creek 5/5/2014
• Moss Landing, 1/24/2015
After three months of care, X34 was released back to the wild. Photo by Jennifer Linander – International Bird Rescue
Thanks to two of our volunteers, a fishing line entangled Brown Pelican is alive, well, and back in the wild.
Last September, two of our long-time transport volunteers, Joan Teitler and Larry Bidinian, who live down in Santa Cruz, were visiting Scott Creek Beach when they saw an animal in need. Of course, once an animal rescuer, it’s hard not to find animals in need of rescuing!
Joan and Larry sighted an entangled Brown Pelican, and with much patience, were able to catch the bird. After spending a day at Native Animal Rescue (NAR) in Santa Cruz, the bird was brought to our San Francisco Bay Area Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for care. He had wounds on both of his wings and on his right leg from being entangled in the fishing line.
The wing wounds healed quickly, but the wound on his right leg became severely infected, as such injuries often do. He had a large abscess running from mid-leg down to and around the bottom of his foot and down his outermost toe. Our vet had to surgically open it up and flush it out to manage the infection. She even put in a drain (drains are usually not needed when treating birds). It took three surgeries and more than a month of wound care before the injuries and infection were resolved.
Our vet had to amputate part of the Pelican’s toe that had been too damaged by an abscess. Photo by Rebecca Duerr – International Bird Rescue
After an entire month of being “dry-docked” for wound management and wraps, he was able to start living out in our Pelican Aviary. He needed to have a final surgery to amputate part of the toe that had been too damaged by the abscess, but it healed great. We have had many re-sightings of pelicans with similar toe amputations in the past, so we were confident this would not affect his successful to return to the wild.
We are very happy to report that this bird was finally released at Fort Baker December 11, 2016 – after more than 3 months in care! He is sporting blue band X34.
He was released with his aviary buddy X33 – a female pelican who was rescued thin and freezing cold on September 12, at Stinson Beach. X33 was brought to WildCare in San Rafael where they stabilized her and transferred her to us a few days later. She was living in our pelican aviary for a while, and had put on a good amount of weight, but wasn’t flying very well initially. However, once X34 started living in the aviary alongside her, he would fly around and she started flying after him! They would always hang out together and whenever he flew somewhere, she would follow. Fortunately, they were both ready to release at the same time so they were released as a pair.
Don’t be surprised if these two are sighted together later—we have previously had aviary buddies who were released together sighted hanging out at the same location years later!
This beautiful Northern Fulmar carries a message of THANKS! We are within $5,000 of our year-end goal.
To that end, an anonymous donor has stepped up to match your gift today up to $2,000! Please give generously 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 so close to reaching our goal, and we cannot do it without your support!
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.
Along 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.
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)
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.
As 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.
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.
An 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!
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 Bird Rescue’s Response Team during the M/V Selendang Ayu Oil Spill, a particularly challenging spill in the Aleutian Islands. Because 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.
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!
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 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!
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
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
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!
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.
In addition to responding to oil spills around the world, International Bird Rescue staff work to care for birds impacted by lesser known threats like natural oil seeps under the ocean, algal blooms, marine debris, and extreme weather. We use this blog to share stories from the field and from the two California-based bird rescue centers we manage. We hope you enjoy this window into our world—we are truly passionate about caring for birds, and know that our community shares this passion. We could not do this important work without your ongoing support!