Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘ibrrc’

June 20, 2010

2010 – Gulf spill response: FAQs

Oiled Pelicans before cleaning and after during 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

Oiled Pelicans before and after cleaning during wildlife response at 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.

From IBRRC’s Jay Holcomb, who is at the center of the BP Gulf oiled bird response in Louisiana:

We are almost into July and have just taken in our 600th bird here in Louisiana at the Fort Jackson Bird Rehabilitation Center. The majority of those birds have come into the center in the last 2 weeks when a section of oil was carried to shore near Grand Isle, LA and impacted many brown pelicans and other smaller bird species.

_Pelican-Bath-LA-06-21-10

Cleaning oiled pelicans at the Fort Jackson Bird Rehabilitation Center.

Currently we have about 300 clean and beautiful brown pelicans outside in large cages getting ready for release. They are starting to be released today in groups and we will continue to release them twice a week until they are all gone. There are currently about 100 oiled pelicans in the building waiting to be washed and some smaller species of birds such as gulls and herons.

The heat here is very difficult to work in but everyone is doing well and moving the birds through the rehabilitation process. We have set up specific times for the media to come and film the birds and the work so that it limits the stress on people and animals. The media has been very cooperative with us.

I play a few roles here in Ft. Jackson and one is the External Affairs role that puts me in touch with the media and the world at large so I thought I would take this opportunity to answer some of the main questions that I am being asked daily.

Question: Where the pelicans are going to be released?

Answer: The pelicans are being flown to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Will they come back to Louisiana? There is that possibility but the US Fish & Wildlife Service has determined that this is the best place to release them at this time. It is a long way from the spill so we are hoping that they stay in the area, at least for a while. The smaller inland birds are being released in the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area just north of Lafayette as they become ready.

Q: How long is IBRRC and Tri-State Bird Rescue going to be in the Gulf of Mexico helping care for the birds?

A: Well, as long as the oil is gushing from the earth and birds are at risk of getting oiled then we will be here.

Q: Is BP supporting your efforts to care for the oiled birds?

A: Yes, BP is the responsible party and is paying for all the costs associated with the care and rehabilitation of oiled birds. IBRRC and Tri-State Bird Rescue are hired to manage the rehabilitation program for the oiled birds from this spill so in actuality we are contractors for BP.

Q: What will the success rate be for oiled brown pelicans?

A: It’s impossible to predict the future but these are very healthy and strong birds and have a good chance at surviving the rehabilitation process. The majority of these birds are handling the stress of oiling, washing and rehabilitation extremely well, as expected. Over 300 of them have been cleaned and are in outside aviaries at this time getting ready for release. Brown pelicans typically have a high survival rate in oil spills when they are captured early on and given the appropriate care, as has happened here to date. I expect the majority of them to make it but time will tell and we will report on these birds as we move through the spill.

See also: Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill detailed wildlife reports

Q: How can people help or donate?

A: Well, as I have said before, we currently have plenty of help and are not in need of volunteers. As well as the Tri-State and IBRRC response teams, wildlife paraprofessionals from the Gulf Coast States are supplementing our workforce. In Louisiana, this is being coordinated by LSART (Louisiana State Animal Response Team).

Regarding donating to the cause, there are pelicans and thousands of other wild animals all over the country that need help and are cared for by wildlife rehabilitators. I urge everyone to locate their local wildlife rehabilitation organization and support them and their great work in helping our precious wildlife get a second chance at life. Check with your state department of Fish and Game and they can help you locate a worthy wildlife rehabilitation organization.

Beware of the NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) that claim they are raising money to help either restore the gulf or set up mass volunteer networks for spill response. Everyone wants a piece of this pie and a number of these groups who have never done much about oil spill response in the past are now asking for money, holding fundraising events, telethons etc. and using many tactics including celebrity endorsement and the media. They are opportunistic and take advantage of every oil spill or big disaster and I strongly urge you just to be cautious. Before you donate ask how and where your money will be spent before you give.

Again, the real unsung and under-funded heroes who help wildlife around this country are the wildlife rehabilitation organizations who work 24/7 to care for our precious wildlife. They are hands on, on the front lines and the results of their efforts can be witnessed every time they release a rehabilitated animal back into the wild. My strong suggestion is that you support these organizations if you really want to help wildlife!

Thanks for visiting our blog. I will be in touch soon with more news and to answer more questions and share more pictures.

– Jay Holcomb, Executive Director, IBRRC

Background

International Bird Rescue Response Teams starting working in Gulf Coast within days of the Deepwater Horizon well blow out on April 20, 2010. With nearly 40 years of experience on more than 200 spills, IBRRC brings a wide variety of skills working with oiled wildlife.

Photo cleaning Roseate Spoonbill at Gulf Oil Spill in 2010 by International Bird Rescue

Response team members clean a Roseate Spoonbill of oil at Fort Jackson Center, Louisiana. Courtesy photo: © Brian Epstein

June 17, 2010

CNN report: Cleaning oiled birds in Louisiana


Duane Titus talks to CNN’s Anderson Cooper on his visit today to see the ongoing oiled bird care at the Fort Jackson Wildlife Center in Buras, Louisiana.

As of noon today, 634 oiled birds have been captured, 783 dead birds collected and 42 have been released – mainly in Florida. Official wildlife numbers available each day around Noon CDT.

June 10, 2010

Post release survival of oil affected sea birds

From Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director:

Hi everyone. We are very busy here in Louisiana at the gulf oil spill, but doing well. We are washing the very oiled pelicans and other birds that you have seen on TV and most of them are doing very well. More on that aspect of our work later. I want to address a few issues that have come up in the media recently. First of all, let me say that this is the time during an oil spill that the skeptics come out. These “experts” are quoted and their opinions, no matter how ill researched or biased they are, become controversial and newsworthy. I spent much time during the Exxon Valdez oil spill, 21 years ago, and in every other oil spill since then addressing them and I now just consider this a part of the politics of an oil spill.

For those who are concerned about the survival rates of oiled birds, based on recent news coverage (or the outdated studies they cite), I’d like to address the topic head-on. I am writing from personal experience, as a veteran of more than 200 oil spills, and as a representative of one of the foremost oiled bird rescue and research organizations in the world. IBRRC and Tri-State Bird Rescue–who is leading the Gulf response effort–host a bi-annual conference on the Effects of Oil on Wildlife, and, as such, are well versed in the latest science. The “experts” that I am referring to rarely, if ever, attend this global forum for oiled wildlife professionals, nor do they attempt to learn about advancements and successes in oiled wildlife rehabilitation.

How well do birds survive in the wild when they have been oiled and rehabilitated?

Recent studies (a few of which are listed below) indicate that birds can be successfully rehabilitated and returned to the wild, where many survive for years and breed.

The papers cited by opponents of oiled bird rehabilitation—like Oregon’s biologist Brian Sharp’s infamous 1996 report “Post Release Survival of Oiled, Cleaned Seabirds in North America” Ibis. Vol. 138:222-228—tend to rely on anecdotal band returns (meaning there is no daily tracking method for individuals released and no control groups observed.) These surveys are misleading because they fail to consider some important variables: the protocols used to care for the birds in question, the experience of the organization caring for the oiled birds and basic things like how the bird’s health and water proofing were assessed prior to release.

Simply put, one would not lump together the survival rates of human patients receiving emergency trauma care between two hospitals like Mogadishu’s Madina Hospital and New York’s Bellevue Hospital. Yet surveys like Sharp’s do just that, they lump together released birds treated at various centers, under different conditions, with different resources and experience levels.

Studies support oiled, properly treated sea birds

A growing number of studies using radio telemetry, satellite tracking and long-term breeding colony observations are more accurately illustrating the post oiling survival of sea birds:

Wolfaardt, A.C. and D.C. Nel. 2003, Breeding Productivity and Annual cycle of Rehabilitated African Penguin Following Oiling. Rehabilitation of oiled African Penguins: A Conservation Success Story.

Newman, S.H., Golightly, R.T., H.R. Carter, E.N. Craig, and J.K. Mazet 2001, Post-Release Survival of Common Murres (Uria aalge) Following the Stuyvesant Oil Spill.

Golightly. R.T., S.H. Newman, E.N. Craig, H.R. Carter and J.K. Mazet. 2002, Survival and Behavior of Western Gulls Following Exposure to Oil and Rehabilitation.

Anderson, D.W., F. Gress, and D.M. Fry 1996, Survival and dispersal of oiled Brown Pelicans after rehabilitation and release.

These studies indicate that many seabirds do survive the oiling and rehabilitation process successfully returning to their wild condition. And in some cases (when birds are located and observed in breeding colonies) have been shown to breed successfully for many years following their oiling, rehabilitation and release. These studies show that a bird’s survival is often based on how a specific species can cope with the stress of the entire process from oiling to rehabilitation, and that their overall survivorship across species is far greater than Sharp’s assertions. As survivorship may be correlated to individual species it is irresponsible to draw conclusions of survivability from one species to another, rather, in depth studies must be conducted for each species considered if we are to begin to answer this question with any measure of reliability.

Pelicans handle stress better than most birds

In regards to pelicans specifically, IBRRC works year-round with brown pelicans at our two rescue centers in California, treating, on average, 500 injured, sick and oiled pelicans every year. Our release rate on these animals is 80% or higher for general rehabilitation. Pelicans, like penguins, can tolerate the stress of rehabilitation much better than birds like loons and murres for example. All of our birds (including pelicans) are federally tagged upon release. Sightings and band recoveries indicate that a high percentage of them survive. One recent example was a brown pelican, oiled and rehabilitated, during the American Trader spill in 1990 in Southern California. This bird was sighted still alive in Newport Beach earlier this year, 20 years on, and is considered one of the oldest brown pelicans ever recorded.

While this is just one bird it is a good example of the type of band returns we see from oiled and non-oiled pelicans. Of course it’s important to also remember that it is these individual birds that make up populations. At the ‘New Carissa’ oil spill in Oregon in 1999, the snowy plover population in Coos Bay was 30-45 birds. We captured 31 and rehabilitated all of them. They are an intensely studied bird and each one is considered valuable to the species. Studies of the birds showed that there was no difference in the mortality of these previously oiled birds to those never oiled.

What gives IBRRC, and Tri-State Bird Rescue, the best chance to make a difference to threatened species during oil spills is the year-round dedication to saving individual lives that has been at the heart of our mission for nearly 40 years. This approach has helped us to develop teams of trained animal care and oiled wildlife professionals that understand the intricacies of this specific field of rehabilitation and continually strive to improve our techniques as well as build a more comprehensive scientific picture of our work over time.

June 4, 2010

Distressed oiled birds emerge in worst U.S. spill

The images are haunting this week in the unabated BP Gulf oil leak as video and photos of heavily oil coated birds flash across the screen for all the world to see. (Above: CBS-TV News Video)

By Thursday afternoon still photographs taken by Charlie Riedel of the Associated Press showed images of multiple distressed seabirds caught in an oil slick on Louisiana’s East Grand Terre Island. See more: Boston.Com’s The Big Picture

For many these are the first horrific images they’ve seen; it surely will not be the last as the 6 week oil leak continues to spew crude in the Gulf Of Mexico.

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.

May 9, 2010

Birds we care about: The Brown Pelican

Brown-Pelican-Tom-Grey-Photo- copy

Brown Pelican: Photo by Tom Grey

Here at IBRRC we love the Brown Pelican. It’s part of our logo and we pride ourselves in treating this bird with the respect and care it deserves.

Since its beginning in 1971, IBRRC has worked hard to become the premier brown pelican rehabilitation organization on the west coast of the United States.

At both our centers in California, with the help of our individual and foundation supporters, we constructed 100-foot flight aviaries to help pelicans recuperate from sickness and injury. We’ve had remarkable success in treating and then releasing them back to the wild.

Earlier this year, both of our centers were inundated with these majestic birds. In three months we treated almost 600 of the pelicans after severe storms walloped California. The wet, sick and dying pelicans flooded into IBRRC centers after heavy rains and pollution from run-off that hit the California coast in early January 2010.

And we always liked this famous poem about one our favorite birds:

A rare old bird is the pelican;
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week;
I’m darned if I know how the helican.
                               – Dixon Merritt

As we respond to the Gulf oil spill we hope the pelicans stay out of harms way. If they don’t, we will be there in force to help them in a speedy recovery.

Photo of Brown Pelican courtesy Tom Grey

May 4, 2010

On the mend: First Gulf oiled bird floating clean

The first oiled bird brought in for treatment at the Gulf Oil Spill, is now recuperating in stable condition. The Gannet spends its time in the pool improving its water-proofing at the Fort Jackson, Louisiana wildlife rescue center.

The juvenile northern gannet was found early in the spill by one of the clean-up boats.

“It actually swam up to the boat so was really very lucky to survive,” said Jay Holcomb, International Bird Rescue’s executive director.

IBRRC continues to help Tri-State Bird Rescue gear up for more oiled birds. There are now three new wildlife rescue centers in the gulf states: One each in Louisiana, Theodore, Alabama and the newest is in Pensacola, Florida.

May 3, 2010

Day 3 Update: Storm hampers oiled bird capture

On the third day of our response, International Bird Rescue continues to work with Tri-State Bird Rescue, the lead oiled wildlife organization, to set up and staff rehabilitation centers in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, where the growing Gulf of Mexico oil slick is expected to impact birds.

IBRRC’s Executive Director, Jay Holcomb, is writing daily updates from the epicenter of the wildlife rescue. Here’s his day three oil spill update:

Today the high winds and thunderstorms prevented attempts for clean-up or oiled bird capture. In the meantime, the IBRRC team is continuing to work with Tri-State Bird Rescue, the lead wildlife organization on the ground, to prepare the centers in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

We continue to care for the one bird recovered so far: a Northern Gannet. It was washed yesterday and is in stable condition.

We have also now activated more of our response team to augment the centers and support search and collection efforts. They will be arriving on Monday, May 3rd.

We know that there has been an outpouring of concern from people all over the country wishing to help. IBRRC is not in the position to coordinate volunteers or other trained people. We can only reiterate that the best thing you can to do for now is to call the volunteer hotline that has been set-up by BP: 1-866-448-5816.

The latest NOAA oil slick map shows the Deepwater Horizon spill enveloping the Gulf of Mexico – including shoreline areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. It’s moving eastward and is expected to hit Florida shores by midweek.

In Alabama Gov. Robert Riley is calling in the National Guard to help with barriers against the sea of oil. Riley is quoted as saying that 80% of the thousands of feet of boom laid down off the gulf coast had broken down because of rough seas and bad weather.

Read more:

Los Angeles Times

Miami Herald

(Photo top: Lumber is unloaded for building bird boxes at Fort Jackson, LA rescue center)

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.

May 1, 2010

Staff off to Turkey to present oil spill training

As many of IBRRC’s response team headed to the Gulf of Mexico to assist with the massive spill unfolding, two of bird rescue’s senior wildlife managers are heading off to Turkey. They will give a week-long training session as part of a larger, regional oil spill plan hosted by the oil industry.

Barbara Callahan and Curt Clumpner will present two training sessions – each 2 and ½ days-long – including an overview of oiled wildlife response and rehabilitation.

As part of this same regional plan, the training team has given oiled wildlife trainings in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and will finish with the training in Turkey.

Attendees include wildlife veterinarians, biologists, wildlife rehabilitators and industry managers in the region.

April 29, 2010

Special hotline numbers for Gulf Oil Spill

IBRRC has been receiving an outpouring of support and phone calls from people wishing to volunteer to help at the Gulf Oil Spill. Although our team has been activated, anyone wishing to learn how they help must contact the BP Community Support Team Hotline at 1-866-448-5816. Note this is voice mail system, so be ready to leave a message with your contact information.

To report oiled wildlife affected by the Gulf oil spill please call the Wildlife reporting hotline at 1-866-557-1401.

Note: Please understand that while IBRRC knows you may want to help, we’re not the lead organization in this spill and will not coordinate volunteer resources at this time.

Thanks for your support and understanding,

The IBRRC Team

April 28, 2010

Pledge/vote on World Oceans Day at Oceana!

We’re pleased to announce that on World Oceans Day, Oceana is honoring those who have made a significant, ongoing contribution to ocean conservation.

This year, our very own Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s executive director, has been nominated as an “ocean hero”. The group had hundreds of heroes nominated, and a panel of experts selected a handful of adult and junior finalists. Vote here

Also, for every pledge made, Oceana will receive a $1 donation.

Oceana, founded in 2001, is the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation. They have offices in North America, Central America, South America and Europe. The group campaigns to help return the world’s oceans to former levels of abundance. It uses a science, law and celebrities to help get its message across to the general public. Read more

Oceana Video 2009 from Oceana on Vimeo.

April 2, 2010

Penny earns her name: Pennies removed from duck

A domestic mallard brought to IBRRC in January had pennies removed from its gastrointestinal tract.

Jay Holcomb of IBRRC explains how “Penny” the duck was successfully treated by our staff and veterinarian at our bird rescue center in Northern California.

She was released last week.

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 11, 2010

Giving thanks to all our supporters

There’s been a outpouring of support this past month from all our supporters as we respond to the pelican crisis that has hit Central and Southern California.

Many of you have responded with cash donations, a pelican adoption or an offer to volunteer. Some have purchased t-shirts or delivered coffee and food. For all of this, IBRRC is so very grateful.

A number of organizations and businesses have stepped up to help us, too. One of our long-time corporate sponsors, Pelican Products of Torrance, CA donated $2,000 to help us cover the costs of caring for these hungry Brown Pelicans. See the Press Release

In the past Pelican Products has also donated flashlights, searchlights and water-proof cases for our spill responses.

We also want to thank Procter & Gamble for its donation of two transport vans, a continuing supply of DAWN dishwashing liquid and TIDE soap. In 2009 P&G also helped raise awareness and donations with its Dawn Saves Wildlife program that donated money for each bottle of DAWN purchased and activated online.

Thanks again for sharing our goal of caring for sick, injured and oiled pelicans and other aquatic birds.