Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

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

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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

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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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August 15, 2014

Golden Eagle entangled in barbed wire

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

GOEASoon after sunrise on August 14, this Golden Eagle was found entangled in a barbed wire fence by our very own San Francisco Bay center volunteer and outreach coordinator, Cheryl Reynolds.

Despite the awful predicament you see in the photo above, the eagle luckily was located at the Grizzly Island Wildlife Complex not far from our wildlife center.

With the help of volunteer Kathy Koehler and a local CalTrans biologist who happened to drive by, the team was able to cut the wire on each side of the bird. However, one barb had punctured the eagle’s leg, requiring the medical attention of our staff.

With the eagle under anesthesia, Dr. Rebecca Duerr (shown below with center manager Michelle Bellizzi assisting) successfully removed the barb during surgery on Thursday morning.

The eagle was later transferred to raptor specialists at Lindsay Wildlife Museum. The bird’s prognosis remains very guarded as it may have nerve damage to the leg and a respiratory problem.

Raptor entanglement with barbed wire is a common problem seen by wildlife rehabilitators. Here’s another such story via Teton Raptor Center in Wyoming.

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Photos by Cheryl Reynolds and Isabel Luevano

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"Barbed wire that was removed from Golden Eagle #14-2708 leg"

 

August 15, 2014

The week in bird news, August 15

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Yellow-billed Cuckoo via Wikimedia Commons

• The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking to protect over a half-million acres across the western United States as critical habitat for the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, whose population has been decimated by dams, livestock grazing and other environmental factors.

“The designation of critical habitat is an important step in recovering the western yellow-billed cuckoo,” said Jennifer Norris, Field Supervisor for the Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “Critical habitat identifies areas with essential nesting and fledgling sites where conservation actions are needed to protect and recover this imperiled songbird.”

Comments on the proposed habitat rule are being accepted through October 14. Read the full USFWS press release here.

The proposal promises to be a flashpoint on Capitol Hill, Politico reports. [Sierra Sun Times]

index• Big game poachers are poisoning African White-backed Vultures (pictured right) because their circling behavior above slaughtered elephant carcasses often tips off authorities. [Yale Environment 360]

• Marine biologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Sylvia Earle’s Netflix documentary Mission Blue premieres today. [Grist]

• CNN offers up some glorious clickbait with this round-up of summer aquatic bird photographs, including a wonderful White Tern. [CNN.com]

• How the California drought is crushing the Tricolored Blackbird population. [Audubon]

• Oy. Federal wildlife officials are trying to keep people and pets off Passage Key, a four-acre barrier island near Tampa Bay that’s become a weekend hotspot for beachgoers, some of them nude. The sandbar is a protected nesting spot, officials say.

“We want visitors to understand the ecological importance of this island,” said Ivan Vicente, visitor services specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “There aren’t many sandbars left for seabirds and shorebirds to nest and rest. As long as visitors remain in the water around the island, the seabirds and shorebirds will successfully continue to nest in Passage Key.” [Fox 13 News-Tampa]

• At SeaWorld, the world’s first “test-tube penguin.” [Daily Mail]

Tweets of the week: