Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘Brown pelicans’

July 7, 2010

The eye of the storm: Oiled bird care Gulf update

Nearly 80 days into the BP Gulf oil spill, IBRRC’s Executive Director Jay Holcomb has an update from the center of oiled avian treatment in Louisiana:

Hello from Fort Jackson! We had a very busy few weeks, treating hundreds of oiled brown pelicans. Mostly adults, but some nestlings too. 

It has quieted down enough to write a quick update. The lull we’ve been experiencing in the last couple of days may be due to the weather, which has been stormy. Storms and high seas prevent rescue teams from getting out to the islands and shoreline to look for oiled wildlife. As the weather improves, we expect an influx in new patients of varying species in various stages of development.

In the past week, we have had a few interesting new arrivals, like this juvenile Roseate Spoonbill that received its wash yesterday. (See video above)

Additional news: We will be moving our main oiled bird facility in Louisiana from Fort Jackson to Hammond in the coming weeks. With hurricane season upon us, it’s imperative and required by the Office of Homeland Security we be located outside the ‘evacuation’ zone.
View Larger Map

Tomorrow, we will be releasing some of the few remaining adult brown pelicans. Each one is ringed with a metal federal band and a colored plastic leg band to identify it from afar. The birds are being released as far from the spill as possible, hoping they will stay away, but there is no guarantee they will not try to fly home.

As for our operations throughout the Gulf, we have Tri-State Bird Rescue and International Bird Rescue team members staffing facilities in Pensacola, Florida, Theodore, Alabama, and Gulfport, Mississippi tending to wildlife casualties in these respective states. At each center, the mornings begin with rounds, checking on patients and providing them with fresh meals. By mid-morning, washes have begun. Throughout the day, washed birds are evaluated for release.


– Jay, from Fort Jackson, Louisiana

IBRRC has more than 40 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

This oil gusher involves a ruptured well 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 died.

The spill has not slowed in the Gulf of Mexico and in its wake it has harmed the fragile breeding grounds for Brown Pelicans and other shorebirds. 10 weeks after the blow out, BP is drilling two relief wells to stem the tide of crude in the nation’s worst oil disaster.

June 1, 2010

Video report: Saving one brown pelican at a time

Nice video produced by The Miami Herald to understand the oiled bird washing going on at the Fort Jackson Wildlife Care Center in Louisiana.

Narrated by IBRRC’s Jay Holcomb (misidentified as Exec Director for Tri-State Bird Rescue) and Dr. Erica Miller who is staff veterinarian Tri-State.

International Bird Rescue and Tri-State are teaming up to handle the bird rescue response at the Gulf Oil Leak. Our 20+ staff are spread over four Gulf area states: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

The massive oil leak involves a ruptured well head 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 died in the explosion and fire.

February 20, 2010

Staggering Number of Sick Brown Pelicans Flood Bird Rescue Centers

Hundreds of Brown Pelicans filled flight aviaries at both of Bird Rescue’s wildlife centers. Photo: International Bird Rescue

International Bird Rescue admitted a staggering 435 wet and sick California Brown Pelicans since January 1, 2010.

The good news is that more than 200 pelicans have been released back into the wild.

At our Los Angeles bird center, 101 live pelicans currently are in care. The San Francisco Bay center has approximately 20.

Wet, sick and dying pelicans have been flooding into Bird Rescue’s wildlife centers following the heavy rains, flooding and pollution from run-off that hit the California coast in early January 2010. As seabird specialists, Bird Rescue is doing its best to treat as many of these sick, cold and wet wildlife casualties at both of its California seabird rescue clinics.

The public has responded to our call for monetary help and donated supplies to assist this unprecedented rescue.

The influx of sick and starving pelicans garnered many media stories in 2010.

February 10, 2010

Answering the call: Rescuing cold, wet pelicans

We posted a new video on our YouTube Channel as a rescue team from International Bird Rescue Research Center responds to a call about 30 cold, wet California Brown Pelicans in Los Angeles Harbor area.

The San Pedro center has received numerous calls from the public reporting dead, dying or sick birds along the Southern California coast since early January.

IBRRC now has more than 350 pelicans in care at two California bird rescue centers. Between the two centers, IBRRC is feeding a 1,000 pounds a fish a day to pelicans in care.

We’re appealing to the public for cash donations to help pay for treatment of these majestic birds.

See more YouTube videos: Saving Seabirds

July 28, 2009

Photo of the week: Releasing Brown Pelicans

Back to the wild in San Pedro, CA with our release of rehabilitated Brown Pelicans.

These beautiful pelicans were taken care of at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center (LABCEC) in Southern California.

Over the years, IBRRC has treated thousands of Pelicans at its two California bird centers. Thanks to contributions and foundation grants, our bird centers each have 100-foot pelican aviaries to help these majestic birds recuberate from injuries, sickness and stress.

How can you help? Adopt a Pelican!

Details about Pelicans in Peril

June 2, 2009

Fishing line injury study: Pelicans most affected

A recent study has concluded, not surprising, that pelicans suffer the most fishing line injuries. Over 30% of the animals harmed by fish hooks and entangled fishing line were Brown Pelicans.

The report was published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 45(2), 2009, pp. 355–362. The report was authored by Brynie Kaplan Dau including contributors, Jay Holcomb of Bird Rescue, Kirsten V. K. Gilardi and Michael H. Ziccardi of UC Davis’ Wildlife Health Center.

The study says that pelican injuries caused by fishing gear were most common in the Monterey Bay region, where 59.6% of the pelicans rescued and admitted to a rehabilitation center were injured by fishing gear over the 6-yr period.

The highest prevalence of fishing gear–related injury in gulls was documented in the Los Angeles/Orange County region (16.1%), whereas the highest prevalence is in pinnipeds (elephant and harbor seals) were seen in the San Diego region (3.7%).

A total of 9,668 cases were included in this study, of which 1,090 (11.3%) were fishing gear–related injuries.

To reduce risk of injury and death for coastal marine wildlife and people, the SeaDoc Society, a marine ecosystem health program of the University of California Davis Wildlife Health Center, launched the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project in 2005. To date, more than 11 tons of lost fishing gear have been removed from near shore marine waters surrounding the Channel Islands, and hundreds of pounds of recreational fishing gear (such as fishing line and hooks, tackle, and ropes) have been cleaned off public-access fishing piers.

To prevent the accumulation of discarded gear at these piers, mono-filament disposal stations have been established on many coastal public piers.

The paper was published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases. Read the abstract

March 28, 2009

IBRRC launches Pennies for Pelicans program

Want to help a pelican? Donate your pennies and loose change to IBRRC’s new Pennies for Pelicans program.

All proceeds will go towards changing the lives of these birds, and giving them a second chance to return to the wild.

A donation of 1% of a dollar can add up fast. Its fun and easy program for anyone to participate in and help save Brown Pelicans!

Why pelicans need your help

Pelicans have been brought to our two California centers this year in unusually large numbers. They are incredible birds with an iconic face, long bills, unique pouches and they are big eaters. One pelican can eat up to five pounds of fish a day during a rehabilitation!

To help us pay for all the fish, IBRRC will be placing collection boxes at specific locations. If you would like to have one at your high traffic location, please let us know.

Soon we will have Brown Pelican curriculum available for teachers with age-specific educational activities. Stay tuned for information on this exciting new program.

Since 1971, the non-profit International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) has been dedicated to saving oiled, injured and sick aquatic birds worldwide. IBRRC is a member of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) and manages two bird rescue centers in California: Cordelia/Fairfield (Solano County) and San Pedro (Los Angeles County). The organization has responded to over 200 oil spills.

IBRRC is a non-profit 501-c-3 organization. Your contribution to any of its programs is tax deductible. To donate online, we can accept donations through PayPal. You can also adopt-a-pelican.

Pennies for Pelicans was the idea IBRRC volunteer, Liz Drummond. The logo was designed by Michelle Bellizzi, our Rehabilitation Manager at the Northern California bird center.

More info: Pennies for Pelicans Program

April 30, 2005

2005 – Coatzacoalcos, Mexico

Ruptured PEMEX oil pipeline soaks wildlife in Gulf of Mexico

oiled Brown pelicans in mexicoA stubborn oil spill along the coast near Veracruz, Mexico affected hundreds of birds and animals. A total of 175 birds were captured by joint IBRRC/IFAW Emergency Response (ER) Team. The spill occurred on December 22, 2004.

As aviaries were being constructed on the waters edge near the Coatzacoalcos River, dozens of pelicans and other seabirds flew overhead or sat around on the tops of the nearby buildings watching the activities going on below. Most of them appeared to be oiled.

“We have about 100 birds in-house and another 400 on-house!” said Jay Holcomb co-director of the ER Team, trying to add some humor to a very trying experience.

The rescue team captured large numbers of pelicans on a daily basis simply by baiting them in. Most were in good condition and all ate well so the turnaround from washing to release was quick.

According to Paul Kelway of the ER Team, the group captured a large number of pelicans on a daily basis simply by baiting them in. Most are in good condition and all ate well so the turnaround to washing and then to release was quite quick.

Species treated included Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, herons, snakes and box turtles as well as a hawk, Kingfisher, iguana and a water turtle.

The ER Team approached 15 people strong at the height of the spill. Volunteers included students from the University of Veracruz.

Spill details

The broken PEMEX oil pipeline spilled at least 7,000 gallons (26,000 liters) of oil affecting birds and animals in the Veracruz area of the Gulf of Mexico.

Reports estimated that up to 400 pelicans were impacted and requiring washing and rehabilitation. Because the oil traveled up to 7 miles (11km), the damage to wildlife and beaches was worse than originally thought. The ER Team recruited additional help in order to recover and wash more birds.

The oil spilled from a ruptured pipeline into the Coatzacoalcos River on Dec. 22, 2004 following an explosion at a pumping station near Santiago Tuxtla, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) east-southeast of Mexico City. The blast caused a burst of high pressure that ruptured the oil line 70 miles (110 kilometers) away in Nanchital, just south of the Gulf port city of Coatzacoalcos.

The pelicans rescued by the ER Team were cared for at a makeshift facility owned by Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). The team identified possible facilities where access to good amounts of hot water was available and where the rehabilitation process following washing could be carried out. It was determined that the Fisherman’s Club was the best available facility
for rehabilitation.

The IBRRC/IFAW team gathered and trained volunteers from the local university in Veracruz to assist with the oiled wildlife operation. Pemex hired over 1,000 workers to assist in the oil cleanup. Water heaters were also purchased to provide sufficient quantities of hot water for the washing process. Pens and pools were built on the beach to house and wash the birds.

The ER Team worked with Pemex to set up waste tanks in order to properly dispose of the waste water generated by the animal washing.

About the ER Team

IFAW’s Emergency Relief (ER) Team is managed cooperatively
by International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) which brings over 30 years of experience responding to oiled wildlife. The team is comprised of leaders in the field of wildlife rehabilitation, biology, veterinary medicine and management who are professionals from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, South Africa, UK and USA. In 2000 the team jointly led the response to the Treasure Oil Spill in Cape Town, South Africa, with SANCCOB, which was the largest of its kind. This required a three-month operation involving 12,000 volunteers and ultimately of the 20,000 oiled African penguins, 90% were released back into the wild. The IFAW ER Team has attended more than a dozen major oil spill wildlife disasters around the world in recent years. IFAW’s ER team now has such experience that it is recognized as having a global presence that supersedes other oiled wildlife response organizations.

Media stories

Black Gold Leaves a Stain on Mexican Coastal Region, Los Angeles Times

– Compiled by Russ Curtis/IBRRC with help from IFAW reports.