Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

March 30, 2016

Release Files: A Tale of Two Pelicans

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Brown Pelicans N32 and N33 about to take off after being released at White's Point.

Brown Pelicans N32 and N33 about to take off after being released at White’s Point by Dr. Rebecca Duerr.

The tale of two recent pelican patients gives you a peek in to International Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation program:

A female Brown Pelican N33 was rescued in San Pedro, CA with a large neck abscess, likely caused by a fish hook. The infection wrapped around the back of her neck, digging deep into her neck muscles. Our veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr, anesthetized her to remove all the necrotic (dead) material from the abscess, and the wound required several weeks of intensive wound management by our LA center staff.

See the before and after images (below) – warning: the ‘before’ picture is a bit graphic! But these are the sort of wounds we successfully treat every day. We are very happy to report that the wound healed beautifully, and she was ready to be released with her aviary buddy N32.

The next Brown Pelican N32 entered care June 14, 2015 after being found on the streets of Long Beach by LB Animal Control. After a full examination, we determined she was suffering from a facial neuropathy. She had little to no control over her lower eyelids, pouch or mandible muscles, showing a floppy pouch, droopy eyelids, and the inability to fully close her mouth. We knew we couldn’t release a Brown Pelican who was unable to control her mouth – to catch dinner, they have to hit the water mouth first at high speed!

The cause of the pelican’s problem remains unknown but we suspect a toxin of some kind, such as from some species of marine algae. Improvement was very slow but steady, and it took lots of time and patience until she regained the ability to control those areas of her body. After nine months in care we determined she had fully recovered and was ready to go!

Both birds were released March 14, 2016 at White’s Point in San Pedro and flew off strongly. They circled around their caregivers a few times before landing one on the reef and one on the water offshore.

Please support Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation programs. With your generous gift we can continue to treat each pelican with the medical, surgical, and nursing care it needs to have a second chance at a vibrant life in the wild. We love Pelicans!

Brown Pelican N33's nasty neck wound early in treatment.

Brown Pelican N33′s nasty neck wound early in treatment.

Brown Pelican N33's healed neck wound just before she was released.

Brown Pelican N33′s healed neck wound just before she was released.

March 22, 2016

Patient of the Week: Great Blue Heron

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GRBE-Avairy-wing-wrap-2016-redWe get a lot of birds with broken wing bones into our wildlife centers each year. This latest patient is a Great Blue Heron that was found in Milpitas, CA with a fracture of radius and ulna (see x-ray). Great Blue Herons are among our most challenging patients because of their size and intense skittishness. In fact, we have to keep them in quiet isolation as best we can because they can become spooked easily and harm themselves by bumping against the sides of their enclosure.

This week our dedicated staff and veterinarian at our San Francisco Bay center may “pin” the fracture soon to aid in the healing of this majestic heron. Right now, the bird is doing well with its purple wing wrap and it has a healthy appetite.

The Great Blue Heron is the largest North American heron with a wingspan of 66-79 in (167-201 cm) and a height of 45-54 (115–138 cm).

Great Blues, like many herons, were hunted to near extinction in the last century for their gorgeous blue-gray plumes. Today, they are a species of Least Concern but of special concern to us as rehabbers. Thanks for all of your support which allows us to be of service to these gentle giants. More info

Please follow us on Facebook for even more great bird stories and photos.

How will you help a bird today?

Photo by Jennifer Linander

March 17, 2016

Patient of the Week: Brown Pelican with severe pouch laceration

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Photo of Brown Pelican with torn pouch in care at International Bird Rescue

This Brown Pelican was rescued in San Pedro with a large piece missing from its front pouch. Photo: Doug Carter

Surgery of torn Pelican pouch

Delicate surgery was required to repair torn pouch. Photo: Bill Steinkamp

It may be gull month but we, of course, have had a ton of other animals needing help come our way!

Brown Pelican “Red-111″ (temporary band #) came to our Los Angeles wildlife center with an unusual and severe pouch laceration – not as large as Pink the Pelican’s tear but much more difficult to repair. A large piece of the front of the pouch was ripped off the bird’s jaw, leaving a great big hole and the pouch piece hanging like what some people mistook for a fish.

“Pelicans are good at healing mild damage to their pouches, but if they can’t eat they can’t heal,” said Dr. Rebecca Duerr, staff veterinarian,

Unfortunately, the ripped piece was dying, so Dr. Duerr had to remove it, then take a big tuck and sew the opposite side across the gap. It took about 150 stitches to sew the pouch. She is hoping the bird’s pouch will stretch with time now that it has mostly healed and he’s outside in the aviary.

In the meanwhile, he can enjoy the menu and fly around the large flight aviary.

Photo of pelican pouch surgery at International Bird Rescue

Pelican under anesthesia just before surgery to repair torn pouch. Photo: Bill Steinkamp

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After surgery pelican takes flight in the 100-foot aviary at our Los Angeles center in San Pedro. Photo: Doug Carter

 

February 26, 2016

Patient of the Week: Canada Gosling

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Our first baby bird of the season — a Canada gosling — is also our patient of the week!

Found earlier this month on the grounds of the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, CA, the gosling was then delivered to our friends at Lindsay Wildlife and, 10 days later, transferred to our San Francisco Bay center.

The gosling is growing quickly: it weighed 98g at rescue, and its weight is now 354g and climbing!

This week we received two more orphaned goslings and all the birds are sharing quarters in a duckling box at our center.

A Canada Goose typically lays a clutch of five to seven white eggs, although clutches can range from as few as two to as many as 12. Newly hatched goslings look a lot like ducklings with their yellowish gray feathers and dark bill. By nine to ten weeks, however, they have turned gray and grown their flight feathers.

We treat hundreds of goslings and ducklings each year at both our California centers. This year is starting off with a beauty!

 

February 22, 2016

New Oiled Birds Tied To Old Sunken Ship Still Leaking Off San Francisco

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Oiled Red-necked Grebe

Oiled Red-necked Grebe in care. Photo: Cheryl Reynolds

Oiled seabirds recently cared for by International Bird Rescue have been conclusively traced back to a leaking cargo ship that sunk off the coast of California more than 60 years ago.

Since December of 2015, Bird Rescue’s wildlife center in Fairfield has cared for nine oiled birds including a Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Western Grebe, and six Common Murres. All the birds were rescued along beaches in San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.

“International Bird Rescue exists to help mitigate human impacts on birds, and the Luckenbach unfortunately is a huge human mistake that continues to taint these beautiful seabirds,” said JD Bergeron, Executive Director. “We will continue to use our 45 years of experience to wash and rehabilitate contaminated wildlife, to train others to do so, to innovate with care options. Ultimately, this whole effort is to get more of these birds back to the wild.”

To date, three birds have been released, two are still in care, and the four remaining have died. A Red-necked Grebe was one of those released. Here is description of the steps to recovery: http://blog.bird-rescue.org/index.php/2016/02/patient-of-the-week-red-necked-grebe/.

Feather samples from the oiled birds sent to a California state lab confirmed that the oil came from the S.S. Jacob Luckenbach that sank in 180 feet of water on July 14, 1953 about 17 miles west-southwest of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. This cargo vessel was loaded with 457,000 gallons of bunker fuel. It has been leaking sporadically over the years – especially during winter months when strong currents bring oil to the ocean’s surface.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) announced these findings late last week.

Luckenbach sank 17 miles off San Francisco coast in 1953 and has been leaking oil ever since.

Luckenbach sank 17 miles off San Francisco coast in 1953 and has been leaking oil ever since.

In early 2002, oil associated with several “mystery spills” was first linked to the Luckenbach. These included the Point Reyes Tarball Incidents of winter 1997-1998 and the San Mateo Mystery Spill of 2001-2002.

Over the years, Bird Rescue estimates it has treated thousands of “mystery spill” birds.

“Bird Rescue has shouldered much of the cost of caring for these oiled birds, going back many years.” said Bergeron. “The oceans are becoming less and less hospitable for birds and other marine wildlife, even without these toxins. We step up to help because we believe every bird matters, and we’re grateful for the incredible community support we get.”

By September 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard and the trustees removed more than 100,000 gallons of the fuel oil from the vessel and sealed the remaining oil inside the vessel – including some 29,000 gallons that was inaccessible to be pumped out of the ship’s tanks.

What to do if you observe oiled wildlife

Anyone observing oiled wildlife should not approach or touch the animals. Please report the exact location and condition of the animal to Oiled Wildlife Care Network at (877) 823-6926.

How oil affects birds

When oil sticks to a bird’s feathers, it causes them to mat and separate, impairing waterproofing and exposing the animal’s sensitive skin to extremes in temperature. This can result in hypothermia, meaning the bird becomes cold, or hyperthermia, which results in overheating. Instinctively, the bird tries to get the oil off its feathers by preening, which results in the animal ingesting the oil and causing severe damage to its internal organs. In this emergency situation, the focus on preening overrides all other natural behaviors, including evading predators and feeding, making the bird vulnerable to secondary health problems such as severe weight loss, anemia and dehydration.

Resources

http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/maritime/expeditions/luckenbach.html

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/OSPR/NRDA/Jacob-Luckenbach

Red-necked Grebe preens its feathers after being washed of oil. Photo Cheryl Reynolds

Red-necked Grebe preens its feathers after being washed of oil. Photo Cheryl Reynolds

February 16, 2016

Patient of the Week: Red-necked Grebe

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An oiled Red-necked Grebe is our patient of the week. This grebe whose temporary tag was “Red-33″ came into the center with oil contamination on December 18, 2015. He was stabilized, washed, then treated for foot injuries likely caused by beaching when the oil removed his waterproofing.

After nearly 2 months in care, he was returned to the wild on February 10, 2016.

Here’s the steps to recovery:

Intake

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe at International Bird Rescue

When this bird arrived, you could barely recognize what species he was due to the heavy contamination with oil. Every oiled bird receives a thorough examination upon intake in order to assess related injuries such as skin burns, foot and toe damage, and emaciation.

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe feathers at International Bird Rescue

While examining an oiled bird, Bird Rescue staff assess the extent of contamination and collect oiled feather samples for use by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oil Spill Response and Prevention office.

Photo of oiled Red-necked Grebe toes at International Bird Rescue

Grebe feet are among the most beautiful of bird feet, with their lobed toes. They are unfortunately also among the most delicate. An oiled bird will often be forced to beach itself because its feathers no longer retain waterproofing or heat. Within a very short time, these delicate toes can become damaged by sand and rough surfaces. This damage can be nearly impossible to undo if the bird does not come into care quickly enough.

 After stabilization and wash

Photo of Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

After stabilization, the bird goes through the wash process. This photo was taken right after the wash process. The grebe is preening and bathing to get its feathers back in order, a very good sign!

 Preening is cleaning

Photo of preening Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

Preening activities immediately after the wash ensure that the bird is doing its part to maintain waterproofing.

Ready for release

Photo of Red-necked Grebe in a pool at International Bird Rescue

Success is a fully waterproof grebe with healthy feet and a little extra weight on it to ease the transition back into the wild and the renewed search for its own food! Thanks to everyone who helped this bird with direct care or a donation!!

Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

 

February 8, 2016

Patient of the Week: California Gull

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This California Gull came to our Los Angeles center this week after being hit by a car in Carson, CA. The impact resulted in compound fractures (see x-ray) of both the radius and ulna in the left wing.

Our veternarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr DVM, pinned the bones back together and the patient is now in a recovery cage.

First on the gull’s to-do list after surgery? Fluff and preen those feathers to cover the wrap as neatly as possible. Second? Maybe think about the fish in the dish (once sure no fingers are available).

Go little gull!

Photos by Rebecca Duerr

X-ray-CA-Gull-2-2016

February 1, 2016

Patient of the Week: Great Egret Tangles With Octopus

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After treatment a lucky Great Egret recuperates at the Los Angeles center.

After treatment for a octopus bite, a lucky Great Egret recuperates at the Los Angeles center. Photo by IBR

This is the story of a Great Egret, an octopus, and a Good Samaritan.

Earlier this week, we received a new patient—a Great Egret who had suffered significant trauma to his left leg. We have, of course, seen a lot of birds with injured legs before; but what was different about this patient was how he’d sustained his injuries.

It seems the bird had an “altercation” with an octopus in view of a man who was fishing along the shore in San Pedro, California. When the fisherman realized that the bird and the octopus were entangled in a deadly struggle, he came to the rescue to separate the combatants. Despite the aggravated octopus turning his ire to the egret’s rescuer, the fisherman was ultimately able to bring the injured egret to us at our Los Angeles center.

Fortunately, the egret is now recovering. Octopuses have a toxin in their bite, and this bird has lacerations to its thigh, hock and foot joints where this could be a factor. Initial inflammation at the wounds is decreasing and the bird is standing and eating, but is having some trouble positioning his foot without a supportive wrap. Currently we aren’t certain if this is due to the lacerations or due to neurotoxin in the octopus’ bite.

We’ll never know which animal instigated the conflict, but we have hopes this egret will make it to release and have another go at having octopus for lunch!

The leg wound oin the Great Egret was treated and then vet wrapped to help heal. Photos by IBR

The leg wound on the Great Egret was treated and then vet wrapped to help heal. Photos by IBR

January 28, 2016

Record Year of Bird Patients in 2015

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Surf-Scoters-Pool-C-mystery-2015 copy

Clean Surf Scoters, contaminated by Mystery Goo, were among the record number of birds cared for in 2015 . Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

2015 was an unusually big year for International Bird Rescue. We received a record number of injured and sick aquatic birds during all seasons and there was no “slow season” as we have had in previous years.

More than 6,000 birds – including those from a mystery goo event, a Santa Barbara oil spill, and a mass stranding of Common Murres – are included in the extraordinary increase in patient numbers at our two California wildlife centers, run in conjunction with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) at UC Davis on behalf of the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

“These increased numbers of birds, especially in Northern California, are concerning,” said JD Bergeron, Bird Rescue’s Executive Director, “and suggest that we may need to develop even more robust funding solutions to be able to keep up with the food and medication needs of these patients. We are concerned that aquatic birds may be facing graver challenges due to the longstanding drought, warming sea waters, violent El Niño storms, reduced habitat, and increased competition for food.

Oiled Brown Pelican treated during May 2015 Refugio Pipeline Spill.

Oiled Brown Pelican treated during May 2015 Refugio Pipeline Spill.

“On the bright side, our team of deeply dedicated staff and volunteers have been tireless in sustaining this ‘alert’ level of effort, coming in extra days and staying later in the evening to ensure that all our patients get the needed care. Further, we are immensely grateful to the thousands of individual, corporate, and foundation supporters who keep showing up to help fund our work. Every dollar helps us to help more birds. Together, we will continue to pursue our mission to mitigate the human impact on seabirds and other aquatic bird species.”

Of the total 6,083 patients, the San Francisco Bay Center had the highest number of birds: 4,372. Some of this can be attributed to the 300+ mystery goo birds (mainly Surf Scoters and assorted grebes) that were treated in January of last year and the more than 500 hungry and stranded Common Murres that flooded the center in Fairfield. Also 40 oiled seabirds were treated and washed in 2015.

At the Los Angeles Center the numbers totaled 1,554 for the year. Of those, 57 birds came in oiled from the Refugio oil pipeline break in May near Santa Barbara and ongoing natural oil seep along the Southern California coast.

January 24, 2016

Patients of the Week: Common Murres, once oiled now cleaned

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COMU-four-after-cleaning

Cleaned of oil, Common Murres spend time in pelagic pools before being released from our San Francisco Bay center.

This week our patients of the week are oiled Common Murres. A handful of these seabirds from the Monterey/Santa Cruz area have been rescued and transported to the San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield.

The birds are coming with light to heavy oiling on their undersides. The petroleum source has yet to be identified.

Oiled-Murre-intake-web

Common Murre during intake is photographed to document oiling. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

To clean the murres, our center staff and volunteers use a combination of methyl soyate (a methyl ester derived from soybean oil), DAWN dishwashing liquid, and high pressure shower wash to remove the oil from their feathers. After spending time regaining their natural water-proofing, the healthy murres are usually released into San Francisco Bay at Fort Baker near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Common Murres are diving birds that nest on high cliffs and spend most of their lives on the open water. The public will often spot these oiled birds along beaches at the tide line. At this point these birds are cold, hungry and tired from trying to preen the oil out of their feathers.

This species is has a hard time in past years with chronic oiling along the California coast from Santa Barbara to Northern California. Also a murre stranding was documented earlier this year from the central coast to Alaska. Thousands of birds are being affected and many ended up at our center in the fall of 2015.

January 19, 2016

45th Anniversary of Oil Spill That Led to Creation of International Bird Rescue

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Photo of Oiled Surf Scoter from 1971 SF Bay spill

Oiled Surf Scoter found near Land’s End in 1971 San Francisco Bay Oil Spill (Golden Gate Bridge in background). IBR photo

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the oil spill that led directly to the creation of International Bird Rescue. On the early morning of January 19, 1971, two Standard Oil tankers, the Arizona Standard and the Oregon Standard, collided in foggy conditions near the Golden Gate Bridge. The ruptured tankers spilled at least 800,000 gallons of crude.

Among other terrible outcomes, the spill affected 7,000 birds. Volunteers collected nearly 4,300 of them, mainly Western Grebes and Surf Scoters, and brought them to makeshift rehabilitation centers.

Alice Berkner, the founder of Bird Rescue, remembers: “Here were about 16 different treatment centers scattered around the Bay Area. A friend of mine, who happened to be a veterinarian, asked me if I wanted to go to the hastily established Richmond Bird Center and help out.”

Only about 300 birds were successfully rehabilitated and released—in part given the lack of established rehabilitation practices for oiled birds at the time.

Jay Holcomb, Bird Rescue’s long-time director—who passed away in 2014—told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2012, “There were dying birds everywhere and no one knew what to do. It was as horrible as you can imagine,” said Holcomb. “It was then that we realized there needs to be an organized attempt for their care.”

Oregon-standard-San-Francisco-Bay-1971-spill

1971 collision of two Standard Oil tankers spilled at least 800,000 gallons of crude into San Francisco Bay

“As long as I live I will never forget the odor that assaulted me as I walked through the doors of the Center,” said Berkner. “It was a horrendous mix of rotting fish, bird droppings, oil, and, strangely enough, Vitamin B.”

International Bird Rescue Research Center (now “International Bird Rescue” was hatched in April of 1971 in the “little red house” at Berkeley’s Aquatic Park. Since then, it has led oiled bird rescue efforts in over 220 oil spills in more than a dozen countries.
 In the 1990s, Bird Rescue became a founding partner in California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN).

Today, Bird Rescue runs two full-time bird rehabilitation centers in partnership with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) and OWCN, located in Fairfield and San Pedro, as well as an as-needed oiled wildlife response facility in Anchorage, Alaska.

“From an environmental tragedy 45 years ago, Bird Rescue was born to deliver on the promise of mitigating the human impact on seabirds and other aquatic species through response, rehabilitation, and research,” said current Executive Director JD Bergeron. “And our 45th year promises to bring continued excellence in response and rehabilitation, as well as renewed focus on research, education, and outreach, especially to children, the next generation of wildlife and nature stewards.”

January 14, 2016

One Year Later: Webinar Explores What We Learned From Mystery Goo Event

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Horned Grebe covered in "Mystery Goo" before cleaning, left, and after cleaning. Affectionally named "Gummy Bear" the birdwas returned to the wild. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Horned Grebe covered in “Mystery Goo” before cleaning, left, and after cleaning. Affectionately named “Gummy Bear” the bird was returned to the wild. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

One year ago on January 16, 2015, we received reports of a spill of a mysterious sticky substance along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay that no one could identify! A large number of water birds was affected by this unknown substance. Many of the birds – which included Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Buffleheads and others – were covered in slime, dirt, and rocks, destroying their waterproofing and ability to maintain body temperature.

All the affected birds required intensive care and Bird Rescue had to develop a whole new cleaning process for this substance. This “Mystery Goo” turned out not to be a petroleum product, which meant there was no protocol for who should take responsibility for the birds and how they would be treated and cared for. Putting our own resources on the line, Bird Rescue stepped into that void and accepted more than 320 birds. Our supporters generously stepped up to help us fund this unusual event.

A year later, we would like to share what we learned.

Join us for a free online webinar on Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 7:00 PM.

Please register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4367155004328262402

December 31, 2015

Help Birds Soar Farther in 2016!

JD Bergeron

Pelican-Brown-dragging-wing-BS

Dear Friends and Bird Allies,

Just a quick reminder that it’s the final day of 2015 and you can still give the gift of flight with a tax-deductible donation.

As a bird lover we depend on your generous gifts to keep our clinic doors open 365 days of the year to make sure the 5,000+ avian patients get the best possible care.

If you’ve already donated, thank you again for your support! If you haven’t yet, please join us and make a contribution to Bird Rescue.

With warm wishes for a wonderful New Year!

Sincerely,

JD-B-signature-300px

JD Bergeron
Executive Director
International Bird Rescue

How will you help a bird today?

Photo by Bill Steinkamp

 

December 23, 2015

Thank You For Giving Birds A Second Chance

JD Bergeron

Photo of Snowy Egrets raised at International Bird Rescue's San Francisco Bay Center.

Dear Friends and Bird Allies,

Maybe it’s snowing where you are, but we never get a snowy day around our centers. We do get our share of Snowy Egrets: 308 this year!

This year, we are counting our blessings. With thousands of birds in need of care – your generous support in 2015 has made all the difference in our ability to give these wild birds a second chance at life.

From the rescue of baby Snowy Egrets (shown) at the 9th Street Rookery in Santa Rosa… to the response to our work with pelicans, gulls, and cormorants on the Santa Barbara oil spill in May… to the volunteers who worked tirelessly helping Surf Scoters slimed by Mystery Goo in San Francisco Bay – your help has carried us through a very busy year and is so appreciated.

As the holiday season enters this week of the festival of lights and you spend more time with family and friends, we want to remind you that as a bird ally you are in our thoughts.

Happy holidays,

JDB-Sig

JD Bergeron
Executive Director
International Bird Rescue

How will you help a bird today?

Photo above: Baby Snowy Egrets. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

 

December 22, 2015

Patient of the Week: Lesser Scaup

Bird-Rescue

Photo of Lesser Scaup

A female Lesser Scaup is our patient of the week. This scaup was brought to our Los Angeles Center by a concerned member of the public. The downed bird was found on the streets of Long Beach and the rescuer thought she looked like she was going to be attacked by crows.

Upon intake the Bird Rescue staff the noticed that the scaup appeared to be contaminated with an unknown oil-based substance. She was washed clean and is currently living in one of the rehabilitation pools.

Lesser Scaups are some of the most numerous and abundant diving ducks in North America – especially in inland waters of the western United States. In winter they are often seen on lakes and bays in dense flocks, numbering in the thousands. They are very similar to the larger Greater Scaup.

How did you help a bird today?