Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘birds’

May 13, 2010

Day 12: Alabama Center receives first oiled bird

Here’s the daily update of oiled wildlife care during the Gulf Oil Spill:

On Wednesday the Alabama Oiled Bird Rehabilitation center received its first oiled bird, a Royal Tern. It was captured on Horn Island. Continued efforts to search that island and others in that region are ongoing. 

The other centers did not receive any new oiled birds.

Half of our Search & Collection teams in the Louisiana were grounded yesterday due to high winds and unsafe seas. The other half was able to work some areas near the Eastern side of the Mississippi River delta area and spotted a few oiled pelicans but were unable to capture them.

The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, visited us for a tour at the Fort Jackson Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center.

We will keep you updated on any new developments.

Thanks,

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

Here are the latest bird numbers:

Ft. Jackson, LA Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

Live oiled birds (intaken in LA since beginning of the spill)
2 brown pelicans
2 northern gannet
1 green heron
1 laughing gull

(one of the live gannets died)

Dead on arrival oiled birds
2 northern gannets
1 magnificent frigatebird

Pensacola, FL Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

Live oiled bird
1 northern gannet

Theodore, AL Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

live oiled bird
1 Royal Tern

Total birds Released: 2 (1 brown pelican, 1 northern Gannet)

May 12, 2010

Day 11: Gulf Spill: Oiled bird care update

On day 11 of IBRRC’s Gulf Oil Spill response, Executive Director Jay Holcomb, has his daily update:

On Tuesday we received an oiled northern gannet from the Grande Isle area to the west and an oiled laughing gull from one of the offshore islands. Unfortunately the gannet died overnight but the gull is doing well as it is lightly oiled. 

We continue to send out our search and collection teams in search of oiled birds. They attempted capture on a few oiled brown pelicans yesterday but the birds were flighted and strong.

Here are the latest bird numbers:

Fort Jackson, Louisiana Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

4 live oiled birds in care
(6 intakes in LA since beginning of the spill)
2 Brown Pelicans
2 Northern Gannet
1 Green Heron
1 Laughing Gull

(one of the live gannets died)

Dead on arrival oiled birds (intakes at LA since beginning of the spill)
2 Northern gannets
1 Magnificent Frigatebird

Pensacola, Floria Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

1 live oiled bird: Northern Gannet

Total birds Released: 2 (1 Brown Pelican, 1 Northern Gannet)

Listen to Jay’s radio interview on KGO-810 News Radio
(2:30 mp3 file)

Thanks again for your continued interest in our efforts,
– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

Wildlife response

International Bird Rescue is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has 16 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

Tri-State Bird Rescue and International Bird Rescue have responded to a combined total of 400 oil spills. The groups worked together in the Venice Louisiana area to care for
over 200 baby pelicans after crude oil from a broken pipeline was strewn over one of the islands in the Breton Island Refuge during a tropical storm in 2005. They also partnered on a South Africa rescue effort in which 20,000 endangered African Penguins were oiled in 2000.

International Bird Rescue Research Center: http://www.ibrrc.org/
Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research: http://www.tristatebird.org/

To report:
• Oiled wildlife: 1-866-557-1401 (Leave a message; checked hourly.)
• Oil spill related damage: 1-800-440-0858
• Oiled shoreline: call 1-866-448-5816.

Background on spill

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010 and sank in 5,000 feet of water. More than 100 workers scrambled off the burning rig in lifeboats. 11 workers perished in the disaster.

The ocean floor crude rupture is now gushing at least 5,000 barrels — or 210,000 gallons — of oil a day. While engineers continue to work feverishly to cap the well, the oil slick is now approaching 4,000 square miles. Booms protecting nearby islands and beaches and chemical dispersants have kept much of the oil from reaching gulf shores. Shifting winds are expected to move more oil toward shore this week.

More on the Oil Spill:

The Times-Picayune

CNN

New York Times

May 11, 2010

Day 10: 2 birds released, readiness continues

On day 10 of IBRRC’s continuing Gulf Oil Spill response, 2 cleaned birds were released in Florida. They are only 3 oiled birds now in care, but as the spill continues to move onshore, the potential for more oiled wildlife is still a strong possibility.

Here’s International Bird Rescue’s Jay Holcomb, with his daily update on our efforts:

Yesterday, May 10, we sent the northern gannet (bird number 1) and the first pelican with a US Fish & Wildlife Service representative to be released in Florida. The release was successful. We are down to 2 live oiled birds in LA (one brown pelican and one green heron). One live gannet remains in care in Florida. 

We are still receiving visits from many facets of the media. We are expecting a visit from the governor of Louisiana today and tomorrow we are hosting Peachy Melancon, wife of Senator Melancon.

Our field teams are still working the outer islands in Louisiana with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and have yet to capture or see any severely oiled wildlife. They have only seen spotty oiled birds that are flighted and appear healthy.

We are still getting many requests for volunteering. As you can see my these blog postings, we are very quiet and are spending our time searching for oiled birds and continuing to set up rehabilitation centers in 4 states in expectation of the worse case scenario which would be if strong winds or storms pushed the oil onto bird breeding islands or in the coastal marshes. The volunteer hotline remains open for people to leave their information on and they will be activated if and when those resources are needed. Thank you for your patience in this matter.

Call the volunteer hotline: 1-866-448-5816. More info

This is a very unusual spill as the potential is great but the impact to date has been minimal at least on bird species. So, its a bit of a waiting game but that has given us the time to prepare for a large scale event. I will keep everyone updates as things happen.

In the mean time, we worked on a spill in this area a few months before hurricane Katrina. Read our article about how we cared for over 200 oiled baby pelicans in 2005. That will give you an idea of how we work in this region.

Thanks,
– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

International Bird Rescue is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has 16 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010 and sank in 5,000 feet of water. More than 100 workers scrambled off the burning rig in lifeboats. 11 workers perished in the disaster.

The ocean floor crude rupture is now gushing at least 5,000 barrels — or 210,000 gallons — of oil a day. While engineers continue to work feverishly to cap the well, the oil slick is now approaching 4,000 square miles. Booms protecting nearby islands and beaches and chemical dispersants have kept much of the oil from reaching gulf shores. Shifting winds are expected to move more oil toward shore this week.

To report:
• Oiled wildlife: 1-866-557-1401 (Leave a message; checked hourly.)
• Oil spill related damage: 1-800-440-0858
• Oiled shoreline: call 1-866-448-5816.

More on the Oil Spill:

The Times-Picayune

CNN

New York Times

May 9, 2010

Day Nine: Gulf spill wildlife update: 5 oiled birds

On the ninth day of the Gulf Oil Spill wildlife response, International Bird Rescue continues to work with Tri-State Bird Rescue, the lead oiled wildlife organization, to staff rehabilitation centers in Louisiana, Alabama Mississippi and Florida. IBRRC’s Jay Holcomb checks in with his daily update on the wildlife response:

On May 8 we sent out 6 field teams, under the direction of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, to continue to look for oiled birds. Only some spotty oiled gulls have been sighted so far. No new oiled birds have been recovered. The 4 live birds in care at Ft. Jackson, LA and the one live bird in Pensacola, FL are all doing well. 

Here are the latest bird numbers:

Fort Jackson, Louisiana Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

4 live oiled birds

* 2 brown pelicans
* 1 northern gannet
* 1 green heron

3 dead oiled birds

* 2 northern gannets
* 1 magnificent frigatebird

Pensacola, Floria Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center

1 live oiled bird

* 1 northern gannet

Thanks again for your continued interest in our efforts,

– Jay Holcomb, Executive Director, International IBRRC

The bird rescue group has 16 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

There are now four Oiled Bird Rescue Centers in Fort Jackson, Louisiana, Theodore, Alabama, Gulfport, Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida.

Accredited media staff can visit the Fort Jackson, LA rescue center any day from 1 pm to 2 pm. It’s located at MSRC:, 100 Herbert Harvey Drive, Buras, LA 100 Herbert Harvey Drive, Buras, Louisiana.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010 and sank in 5,000 feet of water. More than 100 workers scrambled off the burning rig in lifeboats. 11 workers are missing and presumed dead.

The ocean floor crude rupture is now gushing at least 5,000 barrels — or 210,000 gallons — of oil a day. While engineers work feverishly to cap the well, many officials worry the leak could go on for months.

(Photos above: Top: Oiled Brown Pelican is stabilized before washing at the Fort Jackson; interior shot of inside of the Louisiana Oiled Bird Rehabilitation Center, middle, wash area and bird pens in background)

May 2, 2010

Day 2 update: Gulf oil spill bird rescue

As the massive Gulf oil spill continues to evolve, IBRRC’s Executive Director Jay Holcomb is providing daily updates from center of the wildlife rescue operation.

(Photo above: Washing the first oiled bird, a Northern Gannet, at Fort Jackson, LA rescue center Photo: Courtesy of Les Stone)

Holcomb is heading the organization’s Gulf spill response team. He has responded to over 200 oil spills around the world, including Exxon Valdez and the 1979 Gulf spill. With him are a veterinarian, rehabilitation manager and capture specialist.

Here’s his Day 2 update:

In Fort Jackson today we washed the juvenile northern gannet found by one of the clean-up boats. It actually swam up to the boat so was really very lucky to survive. Its condition is stable and it will be going outside in a small pen with a pool tomorrow.

The first big press visit took place today with over 50 members of the media showing up. The International Bird Rescue and Tri-State Bird Rescue staff had decoys and demonstrated how bird-washing techniques. The media also got to see the Gannet being tube-fed.

We are in the process of getting more supplies and getting geared up. The shipment of Dawn arrived this morning from P & G. The center in Theodore, Alabama is also being set-up by Julie Skoglund and Duane Titus from IBRRC and Sarah Tagmire from Tri-State. We are also beginning to set-up centers in Mississippi and Florida in preparation for the potential of oil moving in that direction. (Photo above: Getting Fort Jackson rescue center setup)

The weather has been really windy and the water is choppy so crews haven’t been able to get out on boats to search for animals. Tomorrow there is an 80 percent chance of thundershowers so this might not be able to happen for a day or say.

Right now, preparation is still the name of the game. We will keep you posted.

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

Background
A Team of California bird rescue specialists from International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) are on site in Louisiana and Alabama preparing bird rescue centers to clean up seabirds caught in the Gulf coast oil spill. Working in partnership with Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research the rehabilitation facilities are in Fort Jackson, Louisiana (just north of Venice) and Theodore, Alabama.

Media are welcome to visit the Fort Jackson rescue center any day from 1pm to 2pm: MSRC, 100 Herbert Harvey Drive, Buras, LA.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform approximately 45 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana. The drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010 and sank in 5,000 feet of water. More than 100 workers scrambled off the burning rig in lifeboats. 11 workers are missing and presumed dead.

Nine days later, the U.S. Coast Guard says a torrent of oil is five times larger than previous estimates. The leak is now gushing 5,000 barrels — or 210,000 gallons — of crude oil a day, not a 1,000 barrels that was originally reported. While engineers work feverishly to cap the well, some officials worry the leak could go on for months – potentially becoming a devastating spill of epic proportions.

Bird species at risk along the fragile gulf coast include Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican. Their breeding season has just started.

April 23, 2010

The DAWN-ing of oiled bird washing at IBRRC


In a video report, Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Director, reflects on how DAWN dish washing detergent became the number one tool for cleaning oil from wildlife.

How Dawn Has Helped

More than 30 years ago, the IBRRC was seeking a solution to clean oil from bird’s feathers. IBRRC discovered that Dawn dishwashing liquid was powerful enough to effectively remove oil from birds’ feathers, while remaining gentle on their feathers, skin and eyes. Since then, rescue groups worldwide have chosen Dawn to clean aquatic animals.

“Dawn has made a difference in helping us save countless birds and animals over the years,” said Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director. “But this effort is even bigger. This says we all can make a difference and every little bit helps.”

“Everyday Wildlife Champions” still going strong

So far more than $370,000 has been raised in the DAWN Everyday Wildlife Champions program to support two wildlife organizations in California.

For each bottle you purchase—and then activate it online using the bottle donation code—one dollar* is donated to our wildlife conservation partners. Fifty percent of each dollar is donated to the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) and fifty percent is donated to the Marine Mammal Center (MMC). Both organizations hold longstanding commitments to the preservation and improvement of animals and their natural habitats.Also, DAWN now has over 100,000 fans on it’s Facebook page and it just launched a new “Expedition” program: http://www.facebook.com/dawnsaveswildlife?v=app_4949752878

More info: Dawn Saves Wildlife: http://www.dawnsaveswildlife.com

*Up to $500,000. Must activate donation online.

April 18, 2010

Behold the Sargasso Sea Garbage Patch

Just in time for Earth Day: The 5 Gyres Project has news and videos of even more plastic trash circulating in the North Atlantic Ocean. The researchers found a soup of garbage in the Sargaso Sea – an area from Bermuda to the Azores Island – that contained stew of floating trash similar to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

North Atlantic Garbage Patch from 5 Gyres on Vimeo.

Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, CA claims that “Humanity’s plastic footprint is probably more dangerous than its carbon footprint.”

Moore is credited with discovering the Pacific garbage patch in 1997. He says the Atlantic Ocean contain as much or more plastic debris. Because the Atlantic is stormier, debris there most likely have been diffused, he said.

Algalita is one of the sponsors of this latest scientific efforts.

The industrial world generates large amounts of plastic debris that end up in the oceans: odd pieces of plastics thrown carelessly overboard, fishing lines and nets, container ship losses and all the junk carried by rivers and streams into the ocean.

These debris are a hazard to shipping and especially to marine life. Here at IBRRC we receive many injured birds each year caught in fishing line.

Also high levels of plastic debris has been found in seabirds (Albatross, Sooty-Shearwaters etc.) gizzards.

What we know

• Plastic water bottles take 450 years to decompose
• Fishing lines and nets can take up to 600 years to decompose.
• Plastic bags or balloons in the ocean are dangerous. (They can look like a jellyfish meal to a sea turtle)

What we all can do:

• Reduce your use of disposable plastic products
• Reuse and recycle what you can.
• Buy reuseable grocery bags to cut down on plastic bag use.
• Tell others about the dangers of marine debris.
• Pick up litter.
• Volunteer for beach and stream clean-ups.
• Remind others not release balloons into the atmosphere.

Read more

San Francisco Chronicle: A 2nd garbage patch: Plastic soup seen in Atlantic

The 5 Gyres Project

January 26, 2010

Cosco Busan bird toll update; Plovers survive spill

A new federal bird report on the damage caused by a 2007 San Francisco Bay oil spill says the endangered Snowy Plover survived the spill in good numbers, but other species weren’t so lucky.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report says at least 6,700 ducks, loons, cormorants, gulls, pelicans and other birds were probably killed by the bunker fuel that spilled from the Cosco Busan Nov. 7, 2007. The container ship was being escorted by a pilot boat in heavy early morning fog when it side-swiped the Bay Bridge support structure.

The bird death toll was determined by multiplying the known bird body count by a factor of roughly 2.3.

According to the report, a 2.3 figure was computed by studying how long bird carcasses laid on beaches, how hard they were to find and how many of the deaths were caused by factors unrelated to the oil spill.

The good news is that nearly all Bay Area snowy plovers — tiny white-and-brown birds that nest in sand dunes and are listed federally as a threatened species — survived the deadly oil spill. The oil spread from Oakland and Alameda waters out the Golden Gate and closed beaches in San Francisco and Marin Counties.

IBRRC was one of the lead organizations responding to the spill and treated over 1,000 birds in its Northern California OWCN wildlife rescue center.

Birds killed due to 2007 Cosco Busan accident:

1,632 Diving ducks, including scoters and scaup
87 Loons
1,133 Western, Clark’s and other large grebes
494 Eared, horned and other small grebes
129 Northern fulmars
484 Cormorants
215 Gulls
21 Brown pelicans
609 Common murres
13 Marbled murrelets
130 Other members of the alcid family
1,421 Shorebirds
318 Other marsh or land birds

6,688 Total

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner

Photos courtesy:

Oiled Surf Scoter in Alameda. (Photo: Glenn Tepke)

Snowy Plover along shore (Photo: Tom Grey)

November 6, 2009

When it rains, it pours

Dear friends,

As you know, International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) is in the midst of a large-scale rescue effort to save seabirds threatened by a massive algal bloom off the coast of Oregon and Washington State. After more than a week of 17-hour days, our dedicated staff and volunteers have washed over 400 birds. 150 have already been returned to the wild.

In the midst of our efforts we were deeply saddened to hear that a U.S. Coast Guard crew, colleagues to those that so generously gave their time and resources to airlift these birds to safety, were involved in a fatal air crash near San Diego while flying the same C-130 plane. On the same day, International Bird Rescue was activated by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to respond to an oil spill in San Francisco Bay and we still have rescue teams in the field as I write. It has been quite a week.

This unusual algae event has had all the wildlife casualties but none of the financial resources available to save seabirds from oil spills so it is your incredible generosity that is giving these beautiful birds a second chance.

To date, we have raised two-thirds of the money we need to complete our mission and save these birds. I want to personally thank you for helping us get so far.

If you have not yet donated to save these birds and are inspired to do so we still need your help to find the remaining $15,000 to buy food for the birds, essential medical supplies and equipment. If you have already given but know someone who may wish to make a lifesaving contribution, please help us spread the word by forwarding on this message. Please donate now

We are all deeply touched by your kindness and generosity. Thank you for answering the call of these majestic marine birds.

Sincerely,

Jay Holcomb
, Executive Director
International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC)





Above photo: A Red-throated Loon caught in deadly sea-slime gets washed and rinsed. (Photo: Paul Kelway/IBRRC)

November 5, 2009

More slimed birds released; 200 back in wild

International Bird Rescue released 16 more healthy slime-free seabirds back into the wild today following a massive algae bloom incident off the coast of Oregon. Airlifted to safety by the U.S. Coast Guard, the rescue mission, which has united wildlife organizations and Bay Area residents, has saved the lives of hundreds of migratory birds.

IBRRC’s dedicated staff and volunteers have been working around the clock for more than a week in an unusual rescue mission that had all of the casualties but none of the financial resources usually available to save wildlife when oil is to blame. Instead, rescuers turned to the public to help save these seabirds from a life-threatening algal foam. Donate now

“We knew we had the expertise to help these animals,” said Jay Holcomb, Director of International Bird Rescue, “but it has been the incredible support we have received from wildlife groups, businesses and the public as well as access to a purpose-built oiled wildlife facility that is making this possible.”

“We also want to particularly acknowledge the tremendous support of the Coast Guard who airlifted most of these birds to California,” added Holcomb. “They made a real difference to this mission and we were so saddened to hear that colleagues of that crew were involved in the crash near San Diego. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of everyone involved.”

By the end of this week over 200 seabirds will have returned to the wild to continue their southern migration, the remainder leaving the San Francisco Oiled Wildlife Care & Education Center (SFBOCEC) in the coming days. International Bird Rescue is still seeking donations to support the rescue effort, which is likely to continue for at least another week.

More info about Sea Slime ’09

August 17, 2009

Bird hazing twist at airports: Warning birds visually

A new idea in hazing birds from busy airport flight paths includes the idea that birds can be warned when they’re in harms way. According to a recent NPR news report, some wildlife biologists are testing their theory by communicating with them visually.

“Vision is the primary sensory pathway in birds,” says a researcher. He and his research team hope to “play upon that sensory pathway, understand it and use the lights that are on the aircraft basically to buy time for the aircraft — and buy time for the birds.”

After US Airways jet hit geese after takeoff from a New York airport and made an emergency landing in the Hudson River in January, it turned spotlight on the high level of bird strikes. Airports try a lot of tricks to keep birds away, but now some researchers are shining light on a possible solution.

At Plum Brook Station, a 6,000-acre, high-security government campus near Sandusky, Ohio, scientists are literally flying a plane at groups of geese and watching how they react. It’s a radio-controlled model plane — a 9-foot wingspan aircraft that looks like a miniature Cessna.

It’s a phenomenon that others have investigated less formally. One effort mentioned in a National Transportation Safety Board report in May was by Qantas Airlines. The Australian carrier reported a 10- to 40-percent drop in bird strike rates after they mounted pulsating lights on their 737s.

Read and listen to the full report on the NPR website

June 6, 2009

If birds ruled the world

This is terrific article from the Washintonian.com:

If birds ruled the world, here’s what they’d do:

First, they’d advise human operators of mowers, pruners, leaf blowers, and sprayers to back off a little. Then they’d ask you to provide more—more shrubs to nest and hide in, more trees, more berries, more flowers to attract insects and produce seeds, more wet leaves to harbor worms, more twigs for nest building.

And that lawn you work so hard on? Birds don’t get the appeal. Stephen W. Kress, writing in The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds, is even a bit harsh: “Lawn itself, especially expansive rolling fields of it, is one of the most destitute bird habitats on earth.”

But you don’t have to turn your garden into an overgrown tangle to attract birds. Most of the things birds prefer will actually make the lives of gardeners easier and their gardens more beautiful. For example, replacing as much lawn grass as you dare with medium-size shrubs and small trees will save you time and money. Should a dandelion or two flower in the remaining turf, at least the goldfinches will be happy.

Read more

April 23, 2009

Good news: Owens Lake bird life improving

A bit of good news in the bird world is always welcome and this month the spotlight is on Owens Lake on the eastern side of the Sierras. The Los Angeles Times has a very upbeat piece documenting the increased counts of migrating birds at the Central California lake.

For many years the lake was a dusty mess as water was diverted to thirsty Southern California. At one time the lake was 30 feet deep. In 2001 the LA Water agency finally acted to control a huge dust problem. They now flood the 100 square mile lake bed with ankle deep water and thus encourage birds and their insect prey to proliferate.

At this year’s bird count, organized by Audubon volunteers, the numbers of all species were up from last.

Read the entire story: Bird census at Owens Lake shows nature returning

April 1, 2009

Shop at Ralphs Market? Signup to help birds

If you shop at Ralphs Supermarkets you can help us by simply signing up your Ralphs Rewards card with our organization. Every time a you shop and swipe your card, IBRRC automatically earns a rebate.

Complete signup directions are on our site

Rules on this program changed dramatically last year. You now need to sign-up online for us to receive the rebate. Please note, IBRRC’s NPO number is 82954. Signup now at Ralphs site

This is small hassle, but well worth the effort. The birds and folks at IBRRC appreciate your efforts!

February 11, 2009

Another wake up call: Global warming and birds

If you’ve been on the fence regarding global warming, here’s a sobering Audubon California report that should move you to some sort of action.

The study released Tuesday finds that California will lose significant numbers of its native birds as the continuing shifts in climate change quickly shrinks the range and habitat of more than 100 species. See Audubon website

According to the report:

Climate change is already pushing species globally poleward and higher in elevation. In California, directional changes in climate during the 20th century were substantial. Throughout this period, and in the centuries before, California also experienced cyclical changes as a result of a weather pattern known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation4. Hence, bird species in California have managed to survive various forms of past climate change, often by shifting their distributions around the state. But will they be able to continue to respond to future changes of a much larger magnitude?

Two factors argue that they will not. The first is that our current network of protected lands was not designed to buffer species, communities, and whole ecosystems against large-scale processes like climate change. The second is that the major climate variables influencing species’ distributions are expected to change so quickly that even highly mobile species like birds will be unable to keep pace. Hence, future climate change threatens California’s birds with massive range reductions and, in extreme cases, statewide extirpations and global extinctions.

These dire predictions are based on models of future climates, and serve as a companion to a nation-wide Audubon Society study. Using data collected over the past 40 years, that study concluded that 177 bird species in the U.S. are spending the winter farther north because of a warming world.

In California, scientists worry that the quickly warming climate might not only force certain species to move northward, but wipe out others that are not quick to adapt.

At IBRRC our observation and treatment of sick Brown Pelicans these last two months seems to support our concerns. In fall 2008, Pelicans spent longer in the north where fish stocks seem to be more plentiful. When the weather changed quickly in Oregon and Washington, they got stuck in freezing temperatures and fled south. Some got off course and other died in route. Over 200 ended up being treated at our California bird centers. See: Update on California Brown Pelicans in distress

All is not lost. The study suggests that if we can significantly curb our output of greenhouse gas emissions (cars, factories) and invest in conservation (walk, bus, bike, invest in a lower wattage footprint) we can greatly reduce the damage.

Come on folks, this is not a drill. Our health, planet and bird’s lives depend on us to get off our butts!

Read: Curbing greenhouse gas emissions will reduce future California bird loss (PDF download)