Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘found’

January 26, 2010

IBRRC takes stock of pelican storm casualties

As of today, IBRRC’s Los Angeles Center has now received a total of 130 non-oiled birds since the beginning of last week’s storms. 107 of these birds were pelicans. In addition, 9 oiled birds from natural seep and 6 oiled birds from the spill in Huntington Beach have been received.

The center is shutting its doors to pelicans and other birds being transferred from other wildlife centers for the next 48 hours to help cope with the influx of wildlife casualties.

IBRRC’s San Francisco Bay Center has now received 50 pelicans and expect another 20 in the coming days. A number of ducks (including buffleheads and canvasbacks) have also arrived, some that have been shot and others downed by the storms.

We will be trying our best to keep updating these numbers.

Media report:

KTLA-TV: Hundreds of Pelicans Rescued After Latest Storms

October 23, 2009

American Trader Oil Spill Survivor: Pelican Found Alive 19 Years Later

Dear friends and supporters,

We want to share with you some exciting news about a pelican that was spotted last month in Southern California. The Brown Pelican was one of many that International Bird Rescue (IBRRC) rehabilitated in 1990 during the American Trader oil spill in Huntington Beach, CA. This rare and invaluable band encounter and live bird sighting was observed September 27th, 2009 in Long Beach, CA.

Brown Pelican banded with IBRRC R-318 band was spotted 19 years after being cleaned of oil and released during the American Trader response.

What was also significant was that this was an adult pelican when we originally received it for washing and rehabilitation which means that the bird was at least 4 years old at the time. This means that the bird is now over 23 years old and one of the oldest rehabilitated oiled birds on record. It was also one of the birds that was used in a post release study done during that oil spill where 31 of the rehabilitated brown pelicans were fitted with radio transmitters on their backs.

Below are excerpts from an email sent to us by Brown Pelican biologist and authority, Dan Anderson, regarding this exciting sighting:

Well folks, the pelican 609-11405 was indeed a REHABILITATED individual released with one of our radios on it, released by IBRRC at Terminal Island on 26 February 1990. Thus, it was a 19-year survivor from getting oiled and then cleaned by IBRRC, and at least 23 years old when Robb picked up on it (likely older). Congratulations Jay on the REHAB success! It was a full adult when oiled (therefore at least 4+ years old) and at the time of banding and likely a medium-sized male, but in very good condition at release (4.8 kg = “huge” and fat), 35.5 cm culmen. Its IBRRC number was R-318. Overall results were reported in our 1996 paper and this bird was considered still-alive at the end of the study. Obviously, it went on to become quite successful, at least in surviving.

On longevity, this is an oldie, although Frank and I have an unpublished account of an Anacapa individual that survived more than 40 years. It’s a complex story, however, and we haven’t written anything up yet. I also collected an 18+ year old on one of the colonies (San Lorenzo Sur) in the early-1980s that had been one of three birds caught one night at the Farallon Islands in CA. Given the something like 20,000 BRPE banded by Frank Gress and I over the years,we will start looking at BRPE demographics in the future. I think we have been at it long enough now to be able to develop some life-tables (also working on some alternative techniques to compare to banding studies). Lots to do and so little time.

– Dan Anderson, Professor Emeritus, Wildlife Biologist, UC Davis 10/20/09

For many years Bird Rescue and our colleagues in the field of oiled wildlife rehabilitation and response have studied the post survival of oiled birds that have been rehabilitated. More and more studies are being done now but one of the ways that we have consistently, although sporadically, received information about released oiled birds is when we receive leg band encounters. All oiled, rehabilitated birds are federally banded upon release.

Found a banded Pelican? Report it through the Bird Rescue website

Thanks for your continued support,

Jay Holcomb, Executive Director, IBRRC

July 3, 2009

Good news for at least one Caspian Tern

We have some good news to share this week. On July 1, 2009 we received word that one of the Caspian Terns chicks that IBRRC staff and volunteers nursed back to health in 2006 was spotted recently at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands colony near Huntington Beach, CA.

This banded bird was one of two dozen baby terns rescued after their nests were washed away by crass barge workers cleaning structures in the harbor. The spotted tern also appears to be a breeding bird. (Note: Photo above from release in 2006)


Many people may remember that in the summer of 2006, approximately 2,000 Caspian and Elegant terns nested on two empty barges in the Long Beach, California Harbor. The colony was the northernmost breeding colony in the world and the first recorded colony established on barges. News of the rare colony spread quickly and stories began appearing in newspaper, television and birder blogs.

On June 28, 2006 IBRRC received urgent reports of dead baby terns washing up on some beaches in Long Beach. Our rehabilitation staff immediately went to investigate and found over 300 mostly dead baby terns, some only a day old, littering the beach. 13 live baby terns were rescued and rushed to our center in San Pedro. It was clear that somehow these birds were pushed off one of the barges! News crews recorded the crime scene while USFWS and California Dept. of Fish & Game began investigating.

The next night, Thursday, June 29, the second barge of terns was moved and all the baby terns from that barge were again swept into the harbor. On Friday morning hundreds more dead and dying tern babies littered the same beach. Our staff responded again. All in all a total of 24 baby terns were rescued alive and 405 dead baby terns were collected and kept as evidence.

It was a tragic and heartbreaking ending to what had become a thrilling sight for everyone who saw the thriving colony. IBRRC staff cared for the live birds and also took on the gruesome task of counting every body as evidence. (Migratory birds are protected by both state and federal laws and animal cruelty is a felony in California.)

We ended up raising and rehabilitating ten elegant tern chicks and 15 Caspian tern chicks. Six weeks later the elegant tern chicks had caught on quickly to feeding on live fish and grew to be strong and capable hunters; but the Caspian terns continued to beg and did not feed as aggressively as the elegant terns did. Tern biologists told us that it is typical for them to act lazy and beg to their parents for long periods of time. The decision was made to release the two species separately, at two different locations.

On August 14, 2006, nine elegant terns were released at Cabrillo beach, where other of their species were feeding. They had been fitted with double bands, one Federal and one color and also had been marked with a bright green dot, so birders could easily identify and report the sighting of them.

The bird seen at Bolsa Chica had been released at the Salton Sea with the rest of the chicks on August, 19, 2006. We worked with tern biologist, Kathy Molina, who banded the chicks with both with a service band (# 925-76178) and an alphanumeric band (C-45). This bird was missing the plastic alphanumeric band at Bolsa Chica, which is not surprise as they don’t always last that long. When released at the Salton Sea, it was of mid-weight and spotted hanging around for a week afterwards, then it wasn’t seen again.

The following Saturday, the 15 Caspian Terns were driven to Salton Sea where thousands of their species were nesting, feeding and their was an abundance of small fish to feed on. We felt that being among other Caspian’s would give them the best chance of survival.

The company charged for pushing the terns chicks off the barge admitted their crime and said that they wanted to clear the barge decks so that they could fire off fireworks for the 4th of July. In 2008 the company was found guilty of cruelty and was only given a $15,000 fine that went to the National Wildlife Federation. IBRRC was NOT REIMBURSED for a single penny of the $30,000 plus that it cost us to pick up the dead birds, save them, rehabilitate the live chicks, work with agency people to build a case and deal with the emotional effects of this tern massacre!

Looking for the silver lining

This is a significant sighting, three years later, and although it is only one bird it implies that more may have survived and that our techniques in rehabilitating tern chicks works. The tern colonies in Long Beach Harbor have since taken up nesting on a good landfill area in the harbor and seem to be doing well.

The silver lining to this story is that at least one these chicks has made it. We can assume and hope that others may have survived as well. IBRRC bands all its released birds and receives less that a 1% sighting of banded birds.

From our website in 2006: Rare tern colony decimated

July 30, 2008

Happy Babies: Cormorant video

Last month a handful of double-crested cormorant eggs were saved from nesting next to powerlines near the Dumbarton Bridge near Palo Alto, CA. After being rescued and rushed to IBRRC in Fairfield, five of them survived after hatching. They were raised by staff and kept wild.
You can see the babies in this video:

Michelle Bellizzi, IBRRC’s Rehabilitation Manager in Northern California says:

Because cormorants aren’t precocial like many other waterbirds, they required handfeeding for several weeks, and the risk of imprinting and/or habituation was fairly high. To keep them wild, we used a “Kormorant Kostume” and Cormorant puppet to feed them up to 6 times a day. They heard the soothing sounds of a cormorant colony (procured by a wonderful volunteer who visited the cormorant colony at Lake Merritt in Oakland) day and night to familiarize them with the natural sounds of their elders.

WildCare in Marin has graciously “lent” us their non-releasable education cormorants to serve as surrogates, so that the baby cormorants are able to see wild adult cormorants in action. The babies are currently in an aviary that mimics closely their natural habitat (without the power lines) – they’re in with birds that they usually nest around: pelicans, gulls, and other cormorants. We hope that they’re ready for release in mid/late August.