Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

September 24, 2014

A new aviary at our San Francisco Bay center

Bird-Rescue

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Snowy Egret, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Good news for the birds of California and beyond!

California state wildlife agencies have approved funding in the amount of $100,000 to create a new aviary for wild birds in Northern California harmed by oil spills and other environmental problems, officials announced Wednesday.

The 3,600-square-foot project will create a critically needed new aviary for egrets, herons, shorebirds and multiple species of waterfowl cared for year-round at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center, located in Fairfield and operated by our team at International Bird Rescue. Funding comes from the UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR).

Construction of the new $175,000-$200,000 structure is scheduled to begin in spring 2015.

The aviary will be built in memory of Jay Holcomb (pictured below), a pioneer in the field of oiled wildlife care who served for decades as International Bird Rescue’s executive director. Holcomb died on June 10 from kidney cancer at age 63.Logos-for-Release

“Jay Holcomb dedicated his life and career to helping birds in crisis, especially those injured due to human activities such as oil spills,” said Dr. Michael Ziccardi, Oiled Wildlife Care Network director. “I can think of no better way to honor his memory than helping to build a world-class aviary at one of the premiere OWCN facilities in California.”

In addition to the initial $100,000 contribution, Dr. Ziccardi said that his organization will also match private contributions for the project donated to the Jay Holcomb Legacy Fund, established by International Bird Rescue in July, up to an additional $100,000. Tax-deductible contributions can be made online at here.

jay holcombThe San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center is the primary facility to treat birds and other animals affected by oil spills in Northern California. The 12,000-square-foot center can accommodate up to 1,000 birds, and features outdoor aviaries and pools for a wide variety of seabirds and other aquatic species. Oiled animals from the 2007 Cosco Busan spill in the San Francisco Bay were transported and rehabilitated at the center, which routinely cares for nearly 3,000 birds annually.

“The Office of Spill Prevention and Response stands committed to ensuring the best achievable response to an oil spill, and this facility will provide injured wildlife with critical aid and rehabilitation,” said OSPR administrator Thomas Cullen. “California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network is recognized throughout the world as a center of excellence in oiled wildlife care, and by helping to fund this project, we will maintain that excellence.”

Avocet IMG_2988-LBoth the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Dawn®, widely known for its use in cleaning oiled birds, have also committed generous funding to the new aviary. Dawn® is a longtime sponsor of International Bird Rescue, contributing both financially and through product donations.

The new aviary will comprise 14 separate enclosures designed specifically for the unique needs of aquatic birds in a wildlife rehabilitation setting. Species to be cared for include Black-crowned Night Herons, wading birds commonly found in local urban areas. This species was the subject of extensive national news coverage this summer after a rookery in Oakland was disturbed by tree trimmers, causing a number of baby birds to fall from their nests. Five surviving chicks were raised by International Bird Rescue and released in June.

The project was originally conceived by Holcomb, Ziccardi and staff of both International Bird Rescue and UC Davis in 2000 as a planned expansion of the San Francisco Bay center after its initial construction. The current design was developed in 2007 by architect Robert L. Shaw of Eugene, OR.

In July, local wildlife advocates and representatives of environmental groups from around the world paid tribute to Holcomb during a memorial event held at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Under his direction, International Bird Rescue grew into one of the world’s preeminent wildlife organizations, caring for animals affected by large-scale oil spills such as Exxon Valdez in 1989 and the Gulf Spill in 2010, where Holcomb and his team worked in four states to save pelicans, gannets and other birds harmed by the environmental disaster.

Black-crowned-Night-Heron-Karen-Schuenemann“An aviary that will care for thousands of injured birds each year is a moving and fitting tribute to Jay Holcomb,” said Barbara Callahan, International Bird Rescue interim executive director. “Jay’s dying wish was that his work continue full-steam. This funding will help us to accomplish that mission, and we’re so thankful for the support of all of our partners in protecting California’s precious wildlife.”

You can help support the construction of this new aviary, and your gift will be matched! Visit the Jay Holcomb Legacy Fund page for more info.

Bird photos: American Avocet (above) by Bill Steinkamp; Black-crowned Night Heron (below) by Karen Schueunemann.

September 16, 2014

Save the Date for the 2015 Effects of Oil on Wildlife Conference!

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EOW Save the Date
Save the date, fellow bird rescuers! Along with our partners at Aiuká, we’re hosting the next Effects of Oil on Wildlife Conference in Anchorage, Alaska on May 18-22, 2015.

Information on panelists, paper submissions and more will be found in the coming weeks at eowconference.org.

September 16, 2014

Renew your membership now and…

Barbara Callahan

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Dear friends,

Every fall, we humbly ask you to join or renew your membership with International Bird Rescue.

What we cannot say enough is, Thank you. A majority of our funding comes from people like you. And thanks to a longtime generous donor, when you join as a new member or renew your membership, your gift is DOUBLED.

IBR-breakdownIn 2014, we’ve seen it all: A pelican’s throat slashed by unknown assailants, a tiny aquatic patient among California’s most threatened, a colony of Black-crowned Night Herons disturbed by tree trimmers that resulted in our raising of many orphaned chicks … the list goes on and on. We even said goodbye to our beloved executive director, who left an indelible mark on the world of wildlife conservation and rehabilitation.

Will you help secure a solid future for this vital work? Your membership dollars support:

• The expert animal care for thousands of birds each year at our wildlife centers

• A global oil spill response team that ­has led emergency efforts on six continents

• Research and advocacy into seabird health and conservation that are critical to understanding global marine issues

And thanks to our partners, we have some wonderful perks for your membership. Click here to check them out! Join our Seabird Circle monthly giving program at $20 a month and you’ll receive all three gifts!

There’s never been a better time to become a member or to renew your membership.

Your support makes all the difference. And now you can double your impact through a matching gift from an anonymous donor. We need your support in order to secure this matching donation.

Every bird truly does matter. And so does every member.

Sincerely,

Barbara Signature

Barbara Callahan
Interim Executive Director

Puffin photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider/Flickr Creative Commons

September 12, 2014

Dispatches from the International Sea Duck Conference in Iceland

Curt Clumpner, Preparedness Director

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Harlequin Duck, photo by Andrew A Reding/Flickr Creative Commons

Over the past week, Reykjavik, Iceland has be the site of the 5th International Sea Duck Conference. More than 140 people from nearly 30 image_largecountries have listened, questioned and discussed a wide variety of issues important to understanding sea ducks, their biology, habitat, threats and survival. Unlike most conferences, we have also gotten daily volcano updates and had the opportunity to see eider ducks feeding at the shore. Iceland and Reykjavik are much as what you might expect, very modern surrounded by beautiful isolation.

The program has been both interesting and valuable for me and the work we do at International Bird Rescue. The papers have addressed effects of climate change, body condition measurement techniques, emerging diseases, developments in radio telemetry techniques, and sea duck monitoring and modeling. The primary species studied and discussed are the Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Harlequin Ducks, and Common, King and Spectacled Eiders — all species that we have worked with in many responses going back to our founding in the 1970s. Nearly every presentation contains nuggets of information that can be applied to preparedness and response including rehabilitation. Being here provides an opportunity to find these nuggets as well as to network with the scientists who can be key in getting accurate information about local species at risk if a spill occurs.

While I have been surprised by how many of the participants I have met over the years, most of them are not regular participants in the Sea Duck Conference1-1rehabilitation or oil industry conferences we regularly attend. Their perspective is one that we less regularly hear, and that makes it even more valuable to hear their ideas. Responding to oil spills all over the world presents a number of different challenges, but one of the biggest problems is that we almost always lack local knowledge. We rely heavily on local people and local biologists working with the species affected by an oil spill to mount the best possible emergency response and to achieve the best possible care. Having a familiar face makes it that much easier to develop trust and understanding and get down to the emergency at hand.

One of the most interesting presentations for me was Dr. James Lovvorn’s talk on Designating Critical Habitat in a Climatically Changing Arctic: Eiders, Sea Ice and Food Webs, as one of my current projects is working on planning and preparedness on the remote Northwest Alaska coast of the Chukchi Sea. Although not as immediately of obvious value but very thought provoking were a number of papers on personalities, stress and brain size — all of which I hope to learn more about to further our rehabilitation success.

team_curt_cAll in all, it has been great experience, leaving me eager to apply what I have learned and also eager to learn more from some newly discovered colleagues.

Curt Clumpner

Preparedness Director

Map: Seabirds of Iceland via European Environment Agency

September 10, 2014

See you Sunday at the Wine Country Optics & Nature Festival!

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A must-see for birders, wildlife photographers and conservation-minded folks! Stop by our table and say hi while you’re there!

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September 9, 2014

Climate disruptions affecting North America’s bird species

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Over half of North America’s bird species will see their geographic ranges dramatically shrink as a result of climate change in the coming decades, according to a new study by the National Audubon Society.

Based on decades of data from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the report finds that 126 avian species are “climate endangered,” meaning that they are projected to lose over 50% of their current habitat based on widely accepted greenhouse gas emissions projections. A loss of habitat and geographic shift in where birds can successfully feed and breed poses the risk of extinction for species that may not successfully adapt.

Among those predicted to lose habitat range include the Common Loon (see map above), the Bufflehead (photo right), and the California Gull — all Bucephala-albeola-007commonly seen at our wildlife centers in California.

“Common sense will tell you that with these kinds of findings, it’s hard to believe we won’t lose some species to extinction,” David Yarnold, president of the National Audubon Society, said in an interview with the New York Times. “How many? We honestly don’t know. We don’t know which ones are going to prove heroically resilient.”

Read the full article here.

 

September 3, 2014

Patient of the week: Brown Booby

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Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck
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Brown Boobies are rare visitors to Southern California; this is only the second such patient we’ve received over the past year.

The juvenile Brown Booby you see above was found at Dockweiler Beach in Los Angeles and rescued by our friend Peter Wallerstein with Marine Animal Rescue. Upon intake our team found the bird to be emaciated and mildly dehydrated.

But after working with the bird all day, the team was able to get this booby self-feeding again. It’s since graduated to an outdoor aviary.

A year ago, International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles center had another species of booby in care — a Blue-footed Booby, one of many that had mysteriously “invaded” SoCal. This patient was found injured on a south Los Angeles sidewalk and later released, as you can see in the video below.

September 3, 2014

Protecting Brown Pelicans

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Protecting Pelicans by Franzi Muller for International Bird Rescue. Click on image for printable full-size.

It’s been a year of disquieting news about one of our beloved and most common patients, the California Brown Pelican. In the words of one prominent wildlife biologist, “the bottom dropped out” this spring at key pelican breeding sites in Mexico as well as the Channel Islands — the sole nesting site for this subspecies in the United States. Changes in ocean temperature and prey availability are potential suspects.

At International Bird Rescue, we’re committed to individual care of oiled and injured pelicans brought to our wildlife centers in Northern and Southern California. We treat these birds for a variety of reasons. Our graphic artist-in-residence, Franziska Muller of Germany, designed this infographic on threats to pelicans’ survival. We invite you to print out this wonderful image and distribute it wherever you see fit. We’re all eager to get the word out that pelicans still need our help, five years after they were delisted from the Endangered Species List. We’re also in active conservations with partner environmental groups about how we can best protect this iconic species for generations to come.

In a few weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to do your part! On Sept. 20, International Coastal Cleanup Day will draw thousands of ocean lovers out to the shores to pick up trash and debris. We encourage everyone to keep an eye out for any discarded fishing tackle, which is a huge problem for pelicans, as you can see in the infographic above (please exercise caution in picking up any tackle with sharp hooks).

You can find out more about California Coastal Cleanup here.

Internationally, the Ocean Conservancy’s website is a terrific resource for worldwide events.

August 31, 2014

Lessons learned (or ignored) from the Passenger Pigeon’s fate

Bird-Rescue

passenger pigeons_woodcut from the 1870s shows passenger pigeons being shot in LouisianaJohn W. Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, writes one of the finest op-eds of the year, a stirring call to action to save vulnerable bird species of America from the fate of the Passenger Pigeon.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of “Martha,” the world’s last-remaining Passenger Pigeon who died at the Cincinnati Zoo on Sept. 1, 1914. The species population once numbered over 3 billion, before rampant hunting and habitat destruction led to steep losses in the 19th century.

With alarming declines today of many bird species in America, including the Eastern Meadowlark and the Northern Bobwhite, Fitzpatrick in a New York Times op-ed offers a modest proposal:

I suggest that the broader conservation argument transcends cost efficiencies and scientific analyses and should focus instead on the moral questions posed by Martha. Most of us wish we could see those storied passenger pigeon flocks for ourselves, so why aren’t we doing everything possible to keep some of our most common wild things from meeting the same fate? Don’t our great-grandchildren have the right, as part of their American heritage, to experience choruses of meadowlarks singing “spring is here!” from treetops and fence posts?

Read the full oped here.

August 29, 2014

Patient of the week: Ashy Storm Petrel

Bird-Rescue

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ASSPStorm Petrels belong to the order Procellariiformes, which includes such seabirds as fulmars and albatrosses. One of six storm petrel species found off the West Coast, the Ashy Storm Petrel is a species of special concern in California (the IUCN lists them as endangered). Ashy Storm Petrels are infrequent patients at our California wildlife centers.

The latest petrel in our care was originally found in the harbor area in San Pedro, CA. Apparently this petrel had crash-landed near the shipyard before transfer to our Los Angeles center, where our team performed a physical exam that thankfully showed good body condition, good blood values and no injuries.

After a final check of the bird’s waterproofing, our team released the storm petrel back to the coastal environment.

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Photos by Kylie Clatterbuck

August 29, 2014

We’re hiring!

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International Bird Rescue is currently accepting applications for a part-time rehabilitation technician position at our San Francisco Bay wildlife center!

Click here for more info on this hands-on position in an exciting wildlife hospital environment.

 

August 27, 2014

Devastating fish hook injuries, but a pelican’s pluck prevails

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Photos by Kelly Berry

BRPEThis Brown Pelican was brought to our Los Angeles center on August 18 from the Long Beach area, where it was found wrapped in a large amount of fishing tackle. Rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports that one lure had four fishing hooks of various sizes, two treble hooks and a long strand of fishing line.

All six hooks were embedded into the bird’s wings, causing puncture wounds and wing droop. The good news is that all hooks and line were removed, and the pelican’s wounds are healing well.

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.

You can learn more on this issue at the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project’s website.

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August 27, 2014

NatGeo: Icelandic seabird colonies in peril

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Photo by Frans Lanting, National Geographic

Troubling news out of Iceland, the world’s primary breeding ground for such amazing seabirds as puffins and razorbills, and a veritable “Serengeti for fish-eating birds.”

National Geographic reports on the dramatic decline of seabird colonies and horrendous chick die-offs:

“There are just dead chicks everywhere,” said Freydis Viafusdottir, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Exeter in Cornwall, England. “Not only do you have to provide your field assistants with food and shelter, but also some psychological help after many, many days of collecting dead chicks.”

Similar trends have been reported throughout the North Atlantic, including Norway, Scotland and the Faroe Islands.

Researchers interviewed blamed climate change for disturbing sensitive breeding seasons and adversely affecting fish populations on which seabirds depend:

“What is happening in Iceland, we see happening in so many other areas in the North Atlantic. And the fact that we’re seeing them over such a wide area points to a common factor … and that is climate change,” said Aevar Petersen, a retired Icelandic Institute of Natural History ornithologist.

Other experts place the blame squarely on over-zealous commercial fishing practices that have decimated capelin numbers.

Read the full story here.

August 26, 2014

Released! White-faced Ibis

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

WFIBThe White-faced Ibis who graced our online birdcam has been released!

As you may remember, this juvenile bird 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. Diagnosis: a fractured radius and ulna.

Our staff veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, pinned the injury, and this patient graduated through several enclosures at the center before release in local wetlands (see release photo below).

This is the first grown ibis we’ve worked with in quite some time. But we’ve had plenty of experience with baby ibises: In 2007, 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.

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August 19, 2014

International Bird Rescue teams up with the Port of Long Beach!

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Today, we’re excited to announce a new partnership with our friends at the Port of Long Beach to protect and honor the birds of our beloved coastal ecoystems! As part of this collaboration, the Port has committed $20,000 in 2014 to the care of our bird patients!

Here’s the backstory on this partnership:

A few months ago, the Port stepped forward to help us care for Pink the Pelican, a California Brown Pelican found in Long Beach with his pouch mutilated from ear to ear. News outlets nicknamed the bird “Pink” for his temporary leg band during the bird’s stay at our wildlife center in nearby San Pedro.

The perpetrators of this animal cruelty act have yet to be found. But thanks in part to The Port of Long Beach and its Green Port Policy, we were successful in giving Pink a second chance out in the wild.

So in the spirit of Pink, we’ve teamed up with the Port to bring you more stories of seabirds and shorebirds that are harmed by the human environment, yet receive expert treatment by our animal care staff. Each featured bird is symbolically “adopted” by our Port friends, who will support the animal from intake to joyful release.

AMAVThis month’s featured patient: An orphaned American Avocet.

Long-legged and often found in fresh and saltwater wetlands, the American Avocet is instantly recognized by its distinctive upturned bill that the bird uses in a sweeping motion to catch small aquatic prey in shallow water and mudflats.

This avocet was brought to us as an orphan after it was found abandoned in an industrial area. Our staff has raised the baby bird from incubator to outdoor aviary, where this avocet currently is located.

American Avocets depend on some of Southern California’s last remaining wetlands, including the nearby Ballona Creek and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach.

Tomorrow, we’ll be showing you an up-close-and-personal look at this bird during a routine exam by the wildlife rehabilitation team.

If you’d like to “adopt” your own animal, there are many to choose from at many different levels of support. Learn more by clicking here.

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