Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘how oil affects’

May 21, 2010

Video: Explaining how oiled birds get washed

Jay Holcomb of IBRRC explains why it’s so important to remove oil from a birds feathers. He also describes how an oiled pelican captured at the Gulf Oil leak is cleaned of crude this week at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Center in Louisiana.

When a bird encounters oil on the surface of the water, the oil sticks to its feathers, causing them to mat and separate, impairing the waterproofing and exposing the animals sensitive skin to extremes in temperature. This can result in hypothermia, meaning the bird becomes cold, or hyperthermia, which results in overheating. Instinctively, the bird tries to get the oil off its feathers by preening, which results in the animal ingesting the oil.

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 1, 2009

Company admits 1,600 ducks died in oily waste

A Canadian company is under fire this week for under-reporting duck deaths at an oil sands plant in northern Alberta.

A Syncrude executive admitted 1,606 duck carcasses were collected from the toxic oily waters – three times more than was reported following the incident last year. The ponds contain waste from the process of separating oil from sand.

The birds died in April 2008 after becoming coated with the residual oil floating on the pond’s surface.

The company was accused of failing to prevent the birds from landing near the oily waters. The mining giant is scheduled to appear next next month in a Fort McMurray court on charges that carry up to $800,000 in combined fines. The charges also could include jail time for individuals deemed directly responsible.

Syncrude says it’s working to improve waterfowl hazing protocols in an effort to discourage waterfowl from tailing ponds areas: Details

Tar sand extraction is an important Canadian industry but environmentalists have criticized the process as having a terrible affect on birds. See: Tar Sands Mining Ravages Birds

News report:

CNN: Canada oil firm confirms 1,600 bird deaths

January 29, 2008

Remnants of Cosco Busan? Tarballs on beaches

Big patches of oil debris and tarballs are washing up on Northern California beaches this week. The first question on people’s minds, is this the remnants of the Cosco Busan oil spill in San Francisco Bay on November 7, 2007?

From Ocean Beach in San Francisco south past San Mateo County beaches, the oily mess has cleanup crews out picking up the debris. Recent storms may be the culprit.

Story from the San Francisco Chronicle

Video report from ABC7-KGO-TV

January 21, 2008

SF Bay spill restoration: Public forums Jan. 22 & 29

The six government agencies responsible for the restoration of the San Francisco Bay after the Cosco Busan oil spill, will hold two public meetings in January 2008.

The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 11 AM. The location of the meeting is First Floor Auditorium at the Elihu M. Harris State Building, 1515 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94601. Building info and location

The second meeting will be held Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 6:30 PM in the Cascade Room at the Mill Valley Community Center 180 El Camino Alto, Mill Valley, CA 94941. See map to the location

According to webpage for California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), “the primary purpose of the meetings is to provide an opportunity for the public and other organizations to learn about the restoration process and to provide any additional information and data they collected.”

The November 7, 2007 spill killed at least 2,500 birds after 58,000 gallons of bunker crude oil spilled into the bay. Less than a third of the oil has been recovered.

IBRRC update

San Francisco Chronicle story

November 22, 2007

Renewed efforts to ban bunker crude

The use of bunker crude oil, the bargain basement substance that leaked into the San Francisco Bay this month, is under renewed pressure to have it banned. From politicians to scientists to environmental groups, bunker crude is under the gun.

Ocean shipping companies love the $1.70 a gallon price, but with cheap oil comes expensive and damaging consequences. The heavy oil has left lasting damage to the bay’s ecosystem and bird life. The latest 58,000 gallon spill is yet to be cleaned up and dead and dying birds are still being collected in many areas of the bay. Also in the burning of this oil, emissions can be acute and even in cities like Oakland, CA where docked and idling ships run generators, there are threats of litigation over its use.

The toxic gunk is stored in auxiliary “bunker” tanks that power ships’ generators. The Cosco Busan was carrying at least 1 million gallons of the low grade fuel when it ran into the San Francisco Bay Bridge on November 7, 2007. As of this week, only a fifth or 12,000 gallons of the spilled oil had been cleaned up.

This heavy fuel oil is well know carcinogen and contact with skin is ALWAYS to be avoided. When its burned, this high sulphur fuel said to be more than 1,000 times dirtier than the diesel fuel used in trucks and buses.

Also see:

The Friends of the Earth

November 17, 2007

Washing birds of oil: Almost there

Note: This is Jay Holcomb’s latest update from inside the bird rehabilitation center in Cordelia:

We currently have about 970 Live birds at the center and over 200 of them have made it to the pools and are reconditioning their feathers, eating and resting. By no means are they home free but they are 75% through the rehabilitation process.

People think it’s all about washing the birds. Well, that clearly is an important part of the process but the care they get prior to wash and after the wash is equally as important. I wanted to explain why the pool time is so important to these birds. Here we go.

Aquatic birds have the amazing ability to live in very cold climates. This is because they have an insulating coat of feathers that protects them from the elements. When they get oiled, the feathers matt and the birds are exposed to the cold. Their aquatic environment, the one thing that provided safety, now becomes the main factor that plays into their demise. They are forced to get out of the water and become vulnerable to predators and weather conditions. Hopefully they are captured and cared for by groups like IBRRC who have experience in doing this work.

Fast forward to the wash

When we wash the birds we remove all the petroleum from their feathers and they are 100% clean. They go from the wash tub to the rinse station and there the soap, in our case Dawn dishwashing liquid, is rinsed thoroughly out of their feathers. The most amazing thing happens. As we rinse the soap out of their feathers with high pressure nozzles, their feathers actually become dry. So in essence we are drying their feathers with clean hot water. Its pretty cool and we are always amazed at their feathers natural ability to repel water.

When the rinsing process is complete and all of the soap out of the feathers, the bird goes immediately into a drying pen. There the bird is dried with warm air from pet dryers. The same dryers used in grooming dogs. After the bird is 100% dry it goes into a pool and begins to swim, eat, bathe and preen its feathers. Each feather has microscopic barbs and barbule hookelets that are woven together during the preening process creating a water tight barrier and since the feathers are naturally repelling water, they all work together to provide an overall insulative barrier on the birds body like shingles on a roof.

Here is the biggest misconception:
People think that we or the birds have to restore their natural oils. That is incorrect. Birds feathers are naturally waterproof as proven in the rinse. So, all the bird has to do is preen and get its feathers back in alignment and our job is to make sure the bird is clean and monitored while it is going through this process. The natural oils are really a conditioning agent that come from a gland at the base of the tail. Its called the uropygial gland and it aids in long term feather conditioning.

So, we move the birds in and out of the pools as they get their feathers aligned and become waterproof. Once they are waterproof and can stay in the pools then they are well on their way to release. They have to eat, rest. exercise, we need to monitor them for anemia, weight gain etc. but the waterproofing process is intense and I wanted to explain it as best I could so people understand a bit of the process.

Next time I will talk about the criteria we use for release of the birds.

Thanks everyone for your support and well wishes. We are grateful beyond words.

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

November 17, 2007

Oil spill coverage: SF Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle staff has done a remarkable job covering the SF Bay Spill.

I recommend checking out the online version of its printed paper. Remember those? They cost 50 cents and used to get ink smudges everywhere. Until they switched to soy based inks…but I digress.

Spill coverage

November 16, 2007

Despite worries, Dungeness crab season opens

The Dungeness crab season opened as scheduled Thursday amid health concerns by those who wanted all fishing banned as cleanup continues on last week’s oil spill.

The state announced that only the San Francisco Bay and three miles of Pacific coast, from Point Reyes to San Mateo County, would be off limits to commercial fishing.

It should be noted that a lot of crabbers and fishermen jumped in to help with the oil spill wildlife response: Hear Larry Collins talk about the group’s efforts, he’s a commercial fisherman and president of the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners.

In his own words: NPR report

November 14, 2007

Being grateful for what we have in California

From Jay Holcomb, International Bird Rescue’s Executive Director:

I am resting for a minute so I thought I would write a very short update for the blog. First, thank you all for your well wishes and support. We are so grateful to the people who have contributed their time or money to this effort and to IBRRC’s other programs.

New Video report by Contra Costa Times

Secondly, although this is another horrible oil spill impacting the birds we all love to see in our wonderful bay, I want to say to you that we have something unique in this state that no one else has and that we should all be grateful for. I am and maybe that is because I have been through the horror of trying to care for oiled birds in funky disgusting old buildings that were called “emergency bird treatment facilities”. They never worked!

Since 1990 we now have a state mandated program, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, OWCN, that allows us to provide the “best achievable care” for oiled birds in Califonia. IBRRC is a member participant of the OWCN and we manage two large oiled birds facilities in the state for the network. The center we are working in during this spill is our headquarters based in Cordelia, CA. The other facility is in San Pedro, CA, near Long Beach. We love both facilities and after years of working out of warehouses and horrible make-shift emergency centers that very much limited our ability to care for oiled birds, a day does not go by that I am not grateful for what we have in this state.

IBRRC was one of the first groups in the world to even try to rehabilitate oiled birds way back in 1971 when two oil tankers collided in the fog in San Francisco Bay. And now we’re veterans of over 200 oil spills. Can you believe it?

It is hard to imagine we have been all over the world and managed the oiled bird rescue and rehabilitation programs at the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Treasure oil spill in Cape Town, South Africa where the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and IBRRC jointly worked with local groups to save over 21,000 oiled penguins. Yes, 21,000 penguins and we had remarkable 95% release rate in that spill.

But no where else in all these spills and all these countries do they have a program that coordinates concerned and trained people like our response team and builds and helps maintain state of the art oiled bird rehabilitation facilities. It is only here in California that this is ready and available for use in these tragic spills.

So even though we are ALL fed up with politics and bureaucracy, I just want to point out that at least we have this great program for the birds that live or fly through our state.

That is if for now. We are posting pictures so that you can see the birds we are caring for and we will keep people updated as this spill progresses.

Thanks again for all your support,

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

November 11, 2007

Map of SF Bay oil spill

Google has a helpful map that shows areas and beaches affected by the 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel that spilled into the bay after a container ship side swiped the Bay Bridge on Wednesday morning, November 7, 2007.
See the map

November 10, 2007

Sea of good will

From all over California the offers to help keep rolling in:

“If this is as big as they say, every person in the Bay Area that wants to help, should be used to help. Please give the Bay Area community the opportunity & instructions to help resolve this disaster in our own backyard. I have 2 good hands, 2 good feet & 2 days off work. Please don’t let that go to waste…” – J.C.

“If there is anything I can do to help with this horrendous tragedy, please contact me, thank you.” – L.B.

“I live in Santa Barbara and I am willing to travel to the Bay Area to volunteer, or to bring supplies from San Pedro to San Francisco.” – E.C.

“I’m available this week and maybe longer to help with the current oil spill. I understand that you might not be ready to accept volunteers. If so, just ignore this message. I’ll keep on checking the website. Thanks for your work.” – C.C.

“…Please find a use for me!” – T.O.

“I have no training, but am willing to learn, I am 55 years old with free time, thank you.” – G.H.

“Hello, I read through your web site and realized they are not many opportunities to help without training. However if there are any ways I can help with my time, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I take directions well and am a true nature and animal lover. I’d rather do something than feel powerless…” – C.P.

Note: I gathered some of these comments from hundreds of volunteer application submissions off IBRRC’s website. We’ve forwarded all these offers of help to the state’s volunteer coordinator. The OWCN site gives more updated info.

Please know, your good words and deeds will somehow be utilized. Thank you!