Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

November 4, 2014

Patients of the week: two Great Blue Herons, two human-caused injuries seen all too often

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Great Blue Herons are among the most majestic of aquatic birds, with their S-curved necks in flight, graceful stature andGHBE lightning-quick reflexes as they hunt for prey at water’s edge.

Though this species has been protected by federal law for nearly a century, our wildlife teams regularly care for herons injured by human causes — some incidental, others deliberate. Today, International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center is caring for herons affected by both.

The Great Blue Heron you see above was rescued by our friends at Wildlife Emergency Services after it was found crouched in the backyard of a Hollister, CA home. Caregivers at SPCA for Monterey County Wildlife Center took X-rays of the heron and found that it had been shot. The bird has since been transferred to us, and is recovering from a fractured wing in addition to the gunshot wounds.

Wildlife Emergency Services has secured a reward of $5,050 in this case; anonymous tipsters with information leading to the arrest and conviction IMG_1375-Lof the person or persons responsible can call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife CalTip line at 888-334-2258 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 650-876-9078.

Great Blue Herons are known to sometimes hunt for fish in backyard ponds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers a simple solution for homeowners and their koi fish: Put a length of drain pipe in the pond for the fish to hide from wading birds seeking a quick meal.

Our second Great Blue Heron (right) at International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center has a more common affliction: injuries due to fishing line entanglement. Both of these birds are being housed in outdoor heron aviaries with privacy screening to limit visual contact (Great Blues can be high-stress birds in captivity).

Your support as a member is what makes this work possible. Thank you very much!

October 28, 2014

Brown Pelican with fishing gear injury

Bird-Rescue

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Photos by Kylie Clatterbuck

A common sight in our Los Angeles wildlife clinic: Here is the latest Brown Pelican to come to us with a fishing gear injury, this one affecting the bird’s left leg and foot.

Fishing gear in the environment is one of several issues addressed in Judy Irving’s new documentary Pelican Dreams, now in theaters. We heartily recommend this film for an intimate look at pelicans and the threats they face. photo 1-L

October 26, 2014

Love pelicans? Here are 5 ways you can help them.

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Everyone here at International Bird Rescue is thrilled that Pelican Dreams, a documentary by Judy Irving six years Pelican-Dreams-Final-Poster-A-204x300in the making, takes flight this week in theaters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area — and across the country soon afterwards! Irving has dedicated the film in memory of International Bird Rescue director Jay Holcomb, who died in June at age 63.

This full-length feature follows California Brown Pelicans from their nesting colonies in the Channel Islands and Baja California to feeding grounds along the Pacific coast. As with The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Irving brings a unique style to wildlife documentary filmmaking, one that’s highly intimate, even poetic.

Central to the narrative, Irving zooms in on two injured birds cared for by wildlife rehabilitators. International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center plays a leading role in the film: Viewers will get an intriguing glimpse of our pelican aviary, which can accommodate over 100 pelicans in need of expert care.

International Bird Rescue is a national leader in saving pelicans injured by human-caused threats. Every year, our veterinary and rehabilitation team cares for hundreds of these remarkable birds. We also work with partner organizations on the regional and national level to advocate for comprehensive monitoring of Brown Pelicans, which were removed from the Endangered Species List five years ago but continue to face threats to survival. Click here for a Los Angeles Times op-ed on this issue by International Bird Rescue’s Andrew Harmon.

A growing number of Pelican Dreams fans have asked us how they can help protect and preserve pelicans. We can think of five ways you can make a difference:

1Become a member of International Bird Rescue. We depend on the kindness and generosity of wildlife lovers like you to fulfill our mission to save seabirds and other aquatic species from human-caused problems, such as oil spills, plastic pollution, even animal cruelty.

Starting at $35, membership connects you with fellow pelican aficionados through our e-newsletters. You’ll also AWPE-Cheryl-Reynoldsreceive invites to members-only bird releases and International Bird Rescue events in 2015. Members who contribute $100 or more are eligible for the Puffins and Whale Tails miniprint by International Bird Rescue “artist in residence” David Scheirer. Click here to get started.

Want to make a bigger impact? Become a Pelican Partner and you’ll be invited on a private release of a Brown Pelican cared for at an International Bird Rescue center in California.

2Pick up discarded fishing gear and ocean trash. Fishing gear (think monofilament line, fish hooks and lures) is one of the most common threats to pelicans along our coasts. A large percentage of pelicans admitted to our wildlife centers have fishing gear-related injuries on their throat pouches, legs, wings and feet. Removing this debris from the environment has a direct impact on the health and well-being of pelicans and other seabirds.

3Volunteer. Whether it’s with International Bird Rescue or a partner wildlife group, volunteering is a fantastic way to give back to wildlife in your community and beyond. International Bird Rescue’s volunteer program is a unique, hands-on opportunity to work with animals. We also have volunteer needs in our administrative, development and operations departments. All volunteer duties are vital to the “Every Bird Matters” mission.

4Report sightings of Blue-Banded Pelicans along the Pacific Coast. To better track pelicans post-release, we place large, plastic blue bands with letter/number identification (“V13,” for instance). Birders all along the West Coast have reported hundreds of sightings. If you see a Blue-Banded pelican, please click here to report your sighting — and take a photo of the bird if you can!

5Keep pelicans wild. Like many birds, pelicans are susceptible to habituation. Birds that associate humans with food are more likely to dumpster-dive for scraps, beg on fishing piers, become entangled in fishing line, contaminate themselves with fish oil at fish-cleaning stations, and otherwise become too comfortable with the urban environment, where they are bound to run into problems. Keeping a respectable distance from these wonderful birds and refraining from feeding them is a great way to help keep them wild.

We also invite you to visit Pelican Media and discover more of Irving’s wonderful work. And tell a friend about Pelican Dreams!

 Protecting Pelicans
Protecting Pelicans infographic by Franzi Müller — click on image for full size version.

7564920904_c0ec633e9a_z Pelicans on Duty by Bill Gracey/Flickr; above: American White Pelican by Cheryl Reynolds/International Bird Rescue

October 25, 2014

The great grebe-a-thon: Almost there!

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We’re almost there! Thank you so much for everyone who has adopted a crash-landed grebe to support its care and give one amazing bird a second chance to make it south!

October 23, 2014

Sponsored: Long-billed Dowitcher

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Thanks so much to our friends at Dowitcher Designs in Santa Barbara, CA for sponsoring the care of this injured Long-billed Dowitcher! The bird has healed and will be up for release soon! www.dowitcherdesigns.com

Own a business? Interested in sponsoring a wild bird patient? Email us and let’s get started!

October 22, 2014

Patient of the week: Common Poorwill

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"Common Poorwill # 14-2978 in care @SF Bay Center"
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

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This eccentric new patient is a Common Poorwill, a species of nightjar and one of the few birds in the world known to undergo a hibernation-like state called torpor. They are nocturnal and forage through the night sky for moths and other insects.

This patient was recently transported to our San Francisco Bay center by Vallejo Animal Control, having been found on nearby Mare Island.

There are no visible injuries, but the bird is emaciated and was hypothermic upon intake. (Click on the player to the right to hear this bird.)

We gave this patient plenty of supportive care before transferring the poorwill to our friends and wildlife partners at Lindsay Wildlife Museum. Thanks, Lindsay!

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Common Poorwill, Arizona, photo by Dominic Sherony/Wikimedia Commons

October 22, 2014

Here’s how you can help crash-landed migratory grebes in California…

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Eared Grebe-Cheryl Reynolds
Eared Grebe, photo by Cheryl Reynolds

With fall migration in full swing, large numbers of migratory birds are moving through California on their way south. These birds follow the Pacific Flyway, one of four major routes in the Americas for migratory travel.

Autumn becomes a very busy time for International Bird Rescue due to birds that have crash-landed in urban areas during migration. Both our centers are currently caring for a large number of crash-landed birds, primarily Eared Grebes (pronounced “greebs”).

EAGRWhy do these birds crash land? Crash-landed birds, also known as grounded birds, are birds that have hit the ground and are unable to regain flight. Eared Grebes, for instance, can easily mistake wet pavement and shallow ponds as deeper waterways, and often become grounded in parking lots and streets.

Eared Grebes have beautiful and remarkable yellow ear tufts during breeding season. The ones you see in this post sport non-breeding plumage as they migrate to the southwest US and into Mexico.

About the size of a grapefuit, Eared Grebes are the smallest of the diving birds and are known for their excellent swimming ability, with lobed feet placed far back on their bodies. However, grebes are not suited for land and require a long water runway to take flight. When grounded, these birds will end up dragging themselves as they try to swim. Unless captured, treated for their injuries and relocated to water, they will not survive.

In Southern California alone, injured grebes in our care have been found in many locations, including:

A runway at LAX
Union Station in downtown Los Angeles
• Two swimming pools in Malibu
A front yard in Santa Monica
• At the busy intersection of Wilshire and Centinela in Santa Monica
• The Ventura County Fairgrounds

International Bird Rescue is very thankful for the support of bird lovers everywhere who want to help. Thanks to the Port of Long Beach, our first 10 Eared Grebe patients have been symbolically adopted.

We currently have over 50 Eared Grebes in care — over twice the number during the same period last year, for unknown reasons — and many have yet to be symbolically adopted as part of our Adopt-a-Bird program. You can adopt your own Eared Grebe, for yourself or for a loved one. Click on a grebe below to get started.

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Migratory Grebes Crash Land Throughout California from International Bird Rescue on Vimeo.

October 21, 2014

Opening this Friday: Pelican Dreams, a film by Judy Irving

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A project six years in the making!

In a story of friendship, survival and the spirit of flight, filmmaker Judy Irving (The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill) follows a wayward, starving California Brown Pelican from her “arrest” on the Golden Gate Bridge into care at a wildlife rehabilitation facility, and from there explores pelicans’ nesting grounds, Pacific coast migration and survival challenges. International Bird Rescue is proud to have its work and mission prominently featured in the film.

Pelican Dreams (Rated G, 80 min.) premieres on October 24 in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Rafael, CA. The documentary opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 7 and nationwide soon after. For a theater near you, visit PelicanDreams.com.

October 13, 2014

Patient of the week: Long-billed Dowitcher

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Photo by Isabel Luevano

LBDWIf you’re ever on the beach in California, chances are it won’t be too difficult to spot a Long-billed Dowitcher busy at work, searching for prey using its distinctive long bill to probe wet sand and sediment in a “sewing machine” motion.

This Long-billed Dowitcher was recently transferred to us from our friends at Native Animal Rescue (NAR) in Santa Cruz, CA. The bird was found grounded in the yard of a member of the public in nearby Pleasure Point. During the intake exam, our team discovered a fractured clavicle and a wound over the dowitcher’s left elbow, rehabilitation technician Isabel Luevano reports. The injuries are likely the result of being caught by a predator.

On Friday, the bird under went surgery by Dr. Rebecca Duerr to stitch up the laceration over its elbow. This patient of the week is now living in one of San Francisco Bay center’s shorebird enclosures, sifting for the small invertebrates that our team deposits into pond mud for the dowitcher to discover.

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Long-billed Dowitchers, photo by Eugene Beckes/Flickr Creative Commons

October 10, 2014

The week in bird news, October 10

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• Ocean temperatures are rising faster than many scientists had predicted. Most unsettling: Since 1970, the upper 2,300 feet of the Southern Hemisphere’s oceans may be warming at twice the rate of previous estimates.

“Seas have risen 8 inches since the industrial revolution, and they continue to rise at a hastening pace, worsening floods and boosting storm surges near shorelines around the world,” Climate Central’s John Upton reports. “Another 2 to 7 feet of sea level rise is forecast this century, jeoparizing the homes and neighborhoods of the 5 million Americans who live less than 4 feet above high tide, as well as those of the hundreds of millions living along coastlines in other countries.” [Climate Central]

• Scientists are studying mercury content in Little Auks of the Arctic to identify potential contamination in food chains of northern climes. [Scientific American]

• Preliminary results in the study of American White Pelican eggs in Minnesota have found evidence of WhitePelicanLanding640contaminants from the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, including the dispersant Corexit, according to researchers at North Dakota State University. [MinnPost; photo via Creative Commons/Chuck Abbe]

• In climate change preparations, California leads the nation, Grist reports. Read the state’s climate change adaption strategy here. [Grist.org]

• Add another human-caused hazard to nesting birds. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory found that open pipes posed a “potentially very large” risk of bird mortality for species including Ash-throated Flycatchers, Acorn Woodpeckers and Spotted Towhees. [American Bird Conservancy]

Tweets of the week:

October 3, 2014

The week in bird news, October 3

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• Few sights are more depressing than that of a plastic bag floating down an urban waterway as it heads right for the ocean. Though a worse predicament comes to mind: That same plastic bag entangling and suffocating a bird.

On the West Coast, this sight will hopefully be on the decline.

This week, California became the first state to ban single-use plastic bags from grocery stores and other retailers. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the legislation into law Tuesday, though plastic bag lobbyists have vowed to push for a ballot measure in the Golden State to overturn the environmental victory.

“This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown wrote in a signing message. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

It’s yet to be seen whether a campaign to overturn the law will succeed, the Sacramento Bee reported, as more than one-third of Californians already live in municipalities and counties where single-use plastic bags are banned.

Major retailers will be barred from using plastic bags by July 2015, with smaller businesses phasing them out by July Gullwithplasticbag2016.

We’re hoping cases like this one won’t be seen again at our wildlife centers: Here, a California Gull is treated by our San Francisco Bay center after a member of the public found the bird struggling with a plastic bag wrapped tightly around its neck and body. [Sacramento Bee]

• An oil spill in Quintero Bay, Chile is threatening a small number of marine bird species including Humboldt Penguins. [The Marine Executive]

• A long-running attempt to relocate Double-crested Cormorants from the old span of the eastern San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge continues to face challenges. As we’ve done for several years, International Bird Rescue is at the ready to care for any eggs or chicks that may be disturbed or displaced during this careful process. [San Francisco Chronicle]

• An interview and preview of Judy Irving’s new documentary, Pelican Dreams. [San Francisco Chronicle]

• The team at Dawn stops by our Los Angeles center to celebrate World Animal Day and our amazing volunteers! [Business Wire]

• Naturalists in Australia are struggling to eradicate fox predation on Pied Oystercatchers. [ABC-Australia]

October 2, 2014

Celebrating the volunteer spirit with Dawn!

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On Thursday, October 2, our Los Angeles center team was beyond excited to welcome Adrian Grenier of HBO’s Entourage and Keegan Allen of ABC’s Pretty Little Liars for a day in the life of a volunteer at International Bird Rescue!

Adrian and Keegan were our “honorary volunteers,” and got a fantastic look at what our volunteer team does every day to care for thousands of animals each year. This behind-the-scenes event was in partnership with our good friends at Dawn®. Whenever we tell people where we work, the first question we typically get is, “Do you really clean birds with Dawn?” The answer remains an emphatic “Yes!” Dawn has been our go-to product to care for oiled wildlife, and research continues to show it’s the best product for these animals in need of our help.

Best of all, our staff, volunteer team and media later embarked on an afternoon release experience at White Point with a beautiful view of Catalina in the distance.

We released an adult California Brown Pelican, a Brown Booby and seven Western Gulls, all patients of International Bird Rescue. Many thanks to the team at Dawn as well as our friends at The Marine Mammal Center.

The release event coincides with the latest “Virtual Volunteer” video from Dawn, which followed our team through their animal care work during a week this spring. Check it out below!

Photos in slideshow by Bill Steinkamp

Want to volunteer? We are always accepting new volunteers at our wildlife centers in California. Every day, International Bird Rescue strives to improve medical and husbandry techniques for aquatic birds in captivity. We are proud of the dedication and support of our volunteers who participate in every aspect of Volunteerthe rehabilitation process. Their involvement is vital and directly impacts the successful return of animals to the wild.

In order to volunteer, you must be at least 18 years old, have a sincere desire to help wildlife and commit to at least a four-hour shift a week. We are looking for volunteers who are dependable, responsible and able to take direction.

Click on the volunteer to the right and get started. Oh, and get a taste of volunteering in the video below!

September 27, 2014

Patient of the week: Virginia Rail

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Photo by Bill Steinkamp

This week, both our wildlife centers in California have cared for Virginia Rails, VIRAreclusive birds found in freshwater marshes.

This rail was found soaked and cold on Dockweiler Beach, not far from Los Angeles International Airport, by our friend and partner Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue. Rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports that after a full examination, the clinic team determined that the bird had suffered an unknown trauma — the evidence of which was dried blood around the bird’s right ear and a small patch of feathers missing from its face.

This rail was tube-fed for a full day before it began self-feeding. Impressive weight gain followed, and after the bird’s blood values were back to normal, our team released this secretive patient back into suitable marsh habitat.

September 26, 2014

The week in bird news, Sept. 26

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Map courtesy Marine Conservation Institute

• When the world’s largest marine reserve quadruples in size, you know it’s been a good week in the conservation world.

On Thursday, President Obama expanded the total area of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to 490,00 square miles — about three times the size of California.

While the overall size of the monument expansion is considerably less than what the administration originally proposed in July (782,000 square miles), it’s a victory protecting remote islands and surrounding open sea from commercial fishing. This can only mean good news for seabirds.

Via Vox:

5702927666_58b6d8d9e9_zThe area covered by the new reserve features a large number of fish, marine mammal, coral, bird, and plant species that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. There are several endangered species, such as the hawksbill sea turtle and the humphead wrasse. Additionally, the expansion increases the total number of protected underwater mountains called seamounts (known to be areas of high biodiversity) to 130, up from 50 in the old reserve.

While the reserve covers remote areas that don’t suffer heavily from local pollution or commercial fishing, there are some tuna fleets that operate in the area. They typically use purse seining techniques, which involve tightening a net around a school of fish attracted to something called a fish aggregating device. In many cases, this technique produces high amounts of bycatch — fish from other, unintended species that are discarded — so tuna fishing can deplete all sorts of fish species in an ecosystem. [Vox.com; photo: Masked Boobies, found on Jarvis Island and other remote islands protected by the marine reserve (photo via US Fish and Wildlife]

• Controversy builds over the incineration of migratory birds flying over a massive solar power plant in California. [WSJ]

• More research on marine pollution’s effects on seabirds show that plastic in the environment is highly absorbent of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic, which can impact fertility levels of birds as well as lead to malnutrition. [ABC-Australia]

• Dead seabirds are washing up at Pismo Beach along the central California coast, and authorities have yet to determine why. [KSBY-San Luis Obispo]

• Hungarian photographer Gyula Sopronyi gives a captivating bird’s eye view of barges as they traverse our oceans and rivers. [Huffington Post]

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September 24, 2014

A sneak peek of Pelican Dreams in Sonoma

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Mark your calendars!

On Wednesday, October 8, our friends at Sonoma Birding are hosting a sneak-peek of Pelican Dreams, Judy Irving’s documentary on one of California’s most beloved birds. The film is a project six years in the making, with plenty of footage from our San Francisco Bay center. Our team will be in attendance to give you a wonderful picture of the work we do to help injured pelicans.

When: Wed, Oct 8 from 7pm -8:30pm
Where: Veteran’s Memorial Building, 126 First Street West, Sonoma CA
Tickets: $8 at the door

Via Sonoma Birding:

Pelican Dreams: Ready to Fly!!

Judy Irving, a Sundance- and Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker known for The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, is coming to Sonoma. Now it’s pelicans and their ancient magic, near-extinction and recovery paralleling our human relationship to the environment. One August afternoon, a confused, tired and very hungry young pelican landed on the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge, causing a spectacular traffic jam and providing the beginning of a perfect narrative arc for this film.

Come see clips and hear from International Bird Rescue experts, who provided rehab care for “Gigi” (the pelican named for Golden Gate).

CA brown pelicans flying