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Posts Tagged ‘International Bird Rescue Research Center IBRRC’

March 7, 2011

Natural Seep Oiled Birds Continue to Flood IBRRC

At the end of January, International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) reported that nearly 50 oiled birds had been brought in for care after being coated with oil in a natural seep event along the Southern California coast. Since then, more than 64 new birds severely impacted by this heavy, sticky oil have arrived in our Los Angeles area rehabilitation clinic – 41 of them since February 22.

Species include many Western and Clark’s Grebes, Common Murres, Pacific Loons, California Gulls, Western Gulls, Red-throated Loons, a Northern Fulmar and a Common Loon.

Oil seeps occur naturally all along the coast of California, notably in the Santa Barbara Channel near Coal Oil Point. This area emits about 5,280 to 6,600 gallons of oil per day. Oil can be lethally harmful to seabirds—particularly to diving birds that spend a great deal of time on the surface of the water where the oil sits. It interferes with the birds’ ability to maintain their body temperature by impairing the natural insulation and waterproofing properties of their feathers, which can result in hypothermia, as their metabolisms try to combat the cold. Oiled birds often beach themselves in this weakened state, and become easy prey for other animals.

Preparing for Natural Seep Oiled Birds

IBRRC knows, from 40 years of experience, to anticipate these birds every year, with the largest number coming in during the winter months. This year, however, has been a particularly challenging one, as severe storms move seep oil around at a time when large numbers of migratory birds are utilizing offshore areas as their feeding grounds.

Who pays for their care?

In the case of a natural event, there is no responsible party to cover the costs of caring for oiled wildlife, and IBRRC and other rehabilitation organizations rely heavily on the public’s help. California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) has generously provided some funding, yet the remaining costs to treat and care for these birds continues to grow as more oil disperses along the coast.

Please consider making a donation today. Every bird matters, and so does every gift.

February 17, 2011

Duck Doing Well After Treatment for a Belly Full of Lead

A male mallard is in recovery this week after the successful removal of BB pellets from his stomach by International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) staff.

The drake arrived in late January at IBRRC’s Southern California center, and was not able to stand or walk. He was very dehydrated, had poor blood values, and was clearly in distress

When he was x-rayed, IBRRC staff discovered approximately 30 BBs in his stomach.

On February 1, staff members anesthetized the mallard and flushed out the pellets, using warm water and gavage tubing. Two days later he was able to stand again, and began recovery in Bird Rescue’s warm water hospital pools.

He is improving each day.

IBRRC has been saving aquatic birds around the world since 1971, and is a world leader in emergency response, rehabilitation, research and education. Its team of specialists has led oiled wildlife rescue efforts in over 200 oil spills in 11 States, two U.S. territories, and 7 different countries. Bird rescue is equally proud of the care it provides to the 5,000 injured, hungry, or orphaned birds that come into its centers each year. It is committed to ensuring that every bird impacted by changes to their environment is given hope to survive and thrive.

January 25, 2011

Natural Oil Seep Prompts Bird Rescue in Calif.

Nearly 50 oiled birds have been in care this month at International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) after being coated with oil in a natural seep event along the Southern California coast.

Since January 6, 2011, IBRRC has received 28 Western Grebes, 18 Common Murres, a Common Loon, a Pacific Loon and a Clark’s Grebe.

IBRRC receives many birds that are contaminated with natural seep oil in our rehabilitation clinics year round. Birds are often severely impacted by this heavy, sticky oil, and it presents numerous challenges to our rehabilitation staff.

Oil seeps occur naturally all along the coast of California, notably in the Santa Barbara Channel near Coal Oil Point. This area emits about 5,280 to 6,600 gallons of oil per day. Natural seeps have been active for hundreds to thousands of years and have been documented by early explorers and by coast-dwelling Chumash Indians who used the oil in many ways including waterproofing baskets and constructing wooden canoes.

Impact to Birds

Oil can be lethally harmful to seabirds—particularly to diving birds that spend a great deal of time on the surface of the water where the oil sits. It interferes with the birds’ ability to maintain their body temperature by impairing the natural insulation and waterproofing properties of their feathers, which can result in loss of body weight, as their metabolisms try to combat the cold, and death from hypothermia. Oiled birds often beach themselves in this weakened state, and consequently become easy prey for other animals.

Preparing for Natural Seep Oiled Birds

Each bird that is impacted by natural seep oil is part of a larger population, but we know that every one is important in its own right and deserves the best possible care. We also know, from 40 years of experience, to anticipate these birds every year, with the largest number of birds coming in during the winter months. At this time of year, storms tend to move seep oil around while large numbers of migratory birds are utilizing offshore areas as their feeding grounds. Since their arrival at our rehabilitation clinics is predictable, we have endeavored to schedule our international interns around the birds’ arrival so that our trainees can be immersed in the complexities of oiled bird rehabilitation. The interns get invaluable, one-of-a-kind experience and the birds get the highest quality care.

Who pays for their care?

IBRRC has received natural seep oiled birds since our inception in 1971. As this is considered a “natural” event, with no responsible party, IBRRC and other wildlife rehabilitation organizations rely on the public to help cover the costs of caring for these birds. In recent years California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) has generously provided some funding, however, the remaining cost is substantial in stormy years like this one when more natural seep oil is dispersed along the coast.

January 25, 2011

Jay Holcomb’s 25 years of IBRRC leadership

Dear friends,

On January 10, 2011, I officially turned the reins of International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) over to Paul Kelway. He is now the Executive Director of IBRRC, functioning in an updated and reconstructed position that will allow him to lead the organization into the future. I am certain that he will do this very well, as he is a compassionate, intelligent and capable person. I will be working with him, the staff and our Board of Directors on a daily basis, but Paul holds the responsibility of guiding IBRRC and meeting its mission.

I want to share with you something that I think is important. Earlier this year I received two awards that are meaningful to the field of wildlife rehabilitation and conservation and wanted to explain to you why I think that they are significant. I was hard at work with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico last summer when Oceana’s Ocean Hero award was given to me, so I was not in the position to say much about it. I was really honored to receive it and I love what it stands for. Then in September 2010, I also received the John Muir Conservationist of the Year award. I realized that although these awards honored me, they were actually acknowledging the message of our work, “recognizing animals and nature as important and worthy of our attention.”

I am a wildlife rehabilitator; that’s been my career and my life. All I have ever wanted to get across was the value, importance and beauty of animals, and to accept some accountability and responsibility for their welfare – especially when they are impacted by human activity. This desire was born out of watching and befriending animals as a kid, and by listening to disturbing things that people thought of them. Very early in my life, I became aware that I had a sense of purpose that I could not shake– nor did I want to – so I just lived as I was compelled to. At age 5 or so, I became aware of an intense desire to help animals but had no idea how to make it happen. I held that knowingness in my mind, knew it would happen, and basically allowed it to unfold in front of me. I spent the next 40 years or so working with companion animals and rehabilitating wild animals.

In a nutshell, that’s how it happened for me. I want everyone to know that these two awards are really a major win for wildlife rehabilitation and for the preservation of nature. I mean, I’m a coot, raccoon and gull (very common species) rehabilitator being recognized as a Hero and Conservationist of the Year in the name of the great John Muir? That in itself is extraordinary, because if you look at my achievements you will see that they are all about helping “common” individual wild animals – animals that are discarded as unimportant. I guarantee you that this is exactly how they are held in the minds of most people. If that were not true, then we would not have endangered species and massive loss of habitat. That evidence is all around us and it points to our own attitudes. Early on, I became aware of the skewed outlook that many people had about animals and nature. I have always felt that all life is equal, and the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, are held in nature and in the simplest of animals. They should be revered, protected and adored as they are the most misunderstood living things on earth, yet carry sacred knowledge that we all want and strive to understand. Who are we? What’s it all about? Just look at all of the religious figures and naturalists alike who went into nature and observed it to find the answers to all of their deepest questions and challenges.

The fact that two prestigious conservation organizations have recognized me, a simple wildlife rehabilitator who sees all animals as equal and deserving of our compassion, means that they too consider wildlife rehabilitation a valid endeavor.

During the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill I was constantly asked by reporters, “Why is it important to care for these animals?” I think it’s obvious, but clearly not everyone does. Keep in mind that two highly respected environmental organizations, Oceana and the John Muir Society, just recognized a wildlife rehabilitator and his work in putting the common and simple animals on the pedestal by honoring me with these awards. That is why these awards are valid and important; they recognize a wildlife rehabilitator who has spent a great portion of his life caring for all animals, endangered to common, and sees the value in all of them.

In essence, my life has been living my message to the world; it always has been. The last 25 years have been a wild ride that took me all over the world, exposed horrible atrocities to me, and allowed me to touch and help wild animals – a privilege that I have never taken for granted. IBRRC became an avenue for me to express myself and carry on my mission. I am beyond grateful to IBRRC’s founder, Alice Berkner, for seeing something in me and bringing me on board in 1986, and for all that IBRRC has given me! You can be a great writer or painter, but without paper or canvas you are just a dreamer. My canvas has been IBRRC, and I will never forget that without it I would have been just another dreamer.

Another thing I learned from nature was to evolve myself, as nature does. I am doing that by letting go of the directorship of IBRRC, and am now the Director Emeritus and ready for whatever that brings. I don’t know how it will unfold but I think the upcoming year will bring about great opportunities for IBRRC and me. I officially close this chapter and open a new one.

That’s all for now. Power to the coots, the raccoons and the gulls . . . all the animals . . . even the starlings!

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

November 24, 2010

Year end update: Just two words: Thank you.

Dear Friend,

As I reflect on our accomplishments in the past year, I want to thank you for making this work possible through your continued support and encouragement.

Supporters like you are vital to keeping our rescue centers up and running – so that we can continue to save birds from all types of crises, maintain our ongoing research and training, and remain prepared to deploy at a moment’s notice in response to a massive emergency like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf.

During the months many of us were in the Gulf, supporters like you made it possible for us to continue all the other rescue work we do around the clock, every day – and there was plenty of it. Below are just some of the numbers that paint the picture of our ongoing work made possible through your support:

365 — days each year we are caring for oiled and injured birds at our two rescue centers in California.

— total number of birds treated at our rescue centers so far in 2010. The five most common species treated were: Mallards, Brown Pelicans, Black-Crowned Night Herons, Western Grebes, and Canada Geese.

2839 — number of Pacific birds admitted and treated at our two rescue centers in California between April 20 and September 30, during the height of the Gulf spill.

4 — number of smaller West Coast oil spills IBRRC responded to in 2010.

5 – the number of oiled birds received in the last week from natural seep along the California coast.

600 —number of critically ill pelicans treated by us following the heavy rains, flooding and pollution from run-off that hit the California coast in January 2010.

5 — pounds of fish consumed by a recovering pelican every day.

25,000+ — hours logged by IBRRC volunteers in 2010.

39 — number of years IBRRC has been rescuing and saving injured seabirds from crises. (That’s right, 2011 is our 40th anniversary!)*

24/7 — hours and days a week IBRRC is on-call for wildlife emergencies.

Again, I can’t thank you enough for helping to make this work possible. We truly could not do it without you.


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

*P. S. We look forward to keeping you updated on our plans to celebrate IBRRC’s 40th anniversary in the spring of 2011.

October 1, 2010

Support the birds: Buy a Gulf Oil Spill t-shirt

To commemorate the historic 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, IBRRC is now selling a limited edition t-shirt to honor the birds and wildlife responders who worked so hard to save animals in this disaster.

It is available for purchase at IBRRC’s online store.

This special t-shirt will have a limited printing of 1,000 shirts.

Designed by response team member, Rebecca Dmytryk Titus, the front of the t-shirt shows images depicting the many species of wildlife that were rescued and rehabilitated. They include individual birds such as the baby brown pelican, the Magnificent Frigatebird, a young Roseate Spoonbill, and an adult Brown Pelican sporting a numbered pink leg band, used to identify individual birds after they are returned to the wild.

Species depicted: Northern Gannet, Laughing Gull, Least Bittern, Tricolored Heron (AKA Louisiana Heron), Sandwich Tern, Green Sea Turtle, Brown Pelican, Reddish Egret, King Rail, Magnificent Frigatebird, Black Skimmer, Roseate Spoonbill, Royal Tern, and Great Egret.

These Anvil pre-shrunk organic tees are short sleeve chocolate colored 5.0 oz. 100% Organic Cotton. They come in Small, Medium, Large, X-Large and 2-XL. All shirts are $25 plus shipping and handling.

The RIGHT sleeve has printed: International Bird Rescue Research Center.

All proceeds will support the lifesaving work of International Bird Rescue Research Center. Purchase one now online at our Bird Rescue Online Store. Payment processed through PayPal. You don’t need to have a PayPal account.

T-shirt image/design by Rebecca Dmytryk copyright 2010

September 22, 2010

Five months later: Gulf Oil Spill response update

Dear Friends and Supporters,

After nearly five months working at the Gulf Oil Spill I just returned to California and want to give you an update on IBRRC’s efforts at the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

The demobilization of all four rehabilitation centers and the remaining two stabilization centers should be completed in the next few weeks as they are no longer receiving oiled birds. We still have five IBRRC response team members in the gulf helping Tri-State Bird Rescue get the last of the birds released.

In terms of the rehabilitation of impacted birds, many of them did well considering the logistical and political challenges that were a part of this spill. Approximately 2,000 live oiled birds have been admitted to the rescue centers since late April.. To date we have released over 1,200 birds and still have another 150 or so in care. The final numbers will be posted at the official end of the rehabilitation program. See also: Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill detailed wildlife reports

This was an unprecedented event in our nation’s and IBRRC’s history. Our organization mobilized over 88 response team members, and completed well over 400 media interviews from CNN to documentary film crews. We also provided our expertise to the U.S. government and various organizations and agencies involved in the spill. In addition, we cared for many new species of birds and provided invaluable experience to new and existing staff and response team members.

New limited edition Oil Spill response t-shirt available > > >

During this large-scale effort, while up to our elbows in oiled pelicans and chaos, we received an outpouring of good will and encouragement from our supporters, members and others who repeatedly relayed to us that our efforts gave them hope during what seemed like a hopeless situation. This was an unexpected surprise and meant a great deal to all of us who worked long hours to ensure that each bird received expert care.

The specific details and stories, as well as more pictures and video of our spill response and experiences will be forthcoming in the next few months. To commemorate this historic event, we have also created a limited edition t-shirt that honors and displays the birds that were the true stars of the oil spill and deserve the most recognition. It is available for purchase at IBRRC’s online store.

On behalf of all of our staff, volunteers and response team, I want to thank you for your support during the spill. We look forward to seeing you and talking to you in the future.


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

May 6, 2010

Dawn at the Gulf Oil Spill: Cleaning Up Again

A DAWN ad campaign that was launched in the summer of 2009 is getting renewed interest as the severity of the April 2010 Gulf Oil Spill unfolds. The commercial touts using the dishwashing soap to clean oiled birds.

In honor of last month’s Earth Day celebration and just before the Gulf oil spill, Procter & Gamble (PG), the makers of DAWN, stepped up the airing of the television commercial. The ad is tied to Dawn’s Everyday Wildlife Champions fundraising efforts for wildlife rescue efforts.

Dawn has been donating free bottles of its product for many years for IBRRC to use at its two California bird centers and another in Alaska.

After the Gulf Oil Spill hit on April 20, 2010, PG rushed another 1,000 bottles by truck from a Kansas City plant to wildlife rescue centers in Louisiana and Alabama.The ad and marketing program continues to raise much needed funds for IBRRC and the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA. When you buy a bottle of DAWN at the supermarket “register” your bottle on DAWN’s website the two groups split $1. They just want your bottle ID, your zip code and the store where you purchased the DAWN. Ready to activate your donation? Go to Dawn Saves Wildlife

The commercial was filmed in May 2009 using IBRRC staff in San Pedro, CA at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center (LAOBCE). IBBRC manages that center for California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN).

So far, the successful campaign has raised nearly $400,000 in support for the two wildlife groups.

We’ve had a lot of questions about the beautiful song that accompanies the recent DAWN commercial that kicked off the “Dawn Wildlife Champions” program last summer.

The song is by singer/songwriter Joe Purdy and it was released on his 2004 “Julie Blue” album. The song is “Wash Away” (Reprise) and you can listen to more of this terrific music on his album on Purdy’s website.

The “Wash Away” tune was also featured on the first season of the hit ABC-TV series “Lost.” Purdy self published all his music through his own label, Joe Purdy Records. Joe is from Arkansas and before breaking into the LA music scene, worked on a loading dock and as a high school counselor.

Also map: See how your state is doing with Dawn donations

May 5, 2010

New Layered Google Map of Gulf Oil Spill

A new layered Google map of the Gulf Oil Spill was released yesterday by the internet giant to help folks understand where the enormous oil slick is located. See it live here

Google’s Crisis Response Team developed the map using a series of satellite images showing the current and past movement of the oil spill and an overlay map of closed fishing areas off the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts.

The map shows the 3,300 square mile spill has touched land in a few locations but is mostly still out at sea.

You can also use the map in Google Earth by downloading KML files here.


May 1, 2010

Gulf spill update: From oiled bird rescue center

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.

International Bird Rescue is working in partnership with Tri-state Bird Rescue & Research to prepare rehabilitation facilities in Fort Jackson, Louisiana (just northof Venice) and Theodore, Alabama, near Mobile.

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

To date, rescue teams have recovered just one bird, a Northern Gannet, which is being treated in Venice and expected to recover fully. To learn more about oiled bird treatment, see Treatment of Oiled Birds and How oil affects birds.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Exceutive Director and oil spill veteran says preparation of rescue centers is key to the wildlife response.

“International Bird Rescue’s focus now is on preparing for the influx of oiled birds once the slick moves closer to the Gulf coast, where pelicans, egrets and terns nest and feed,” said Holcomb.

“Even after my 25 years responding to oil spills, it’s impossible to predict the kinds of impacts we might see to birds—it all depends on the tides, weather, and other factors beyond our control,” Holcomb said.

“Rather than waste time with conjecture, we are spending our days preparing for any eventuality, and it’s great to have such an outpouring of support from all over the country. This truly is an all hands on deck effort, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside Tri-State Bird Rescue and other groups,” said Holcomb.

“So far, we have only rescued one oiled bird, a Northern Gannet that is being treated at the Venice facility.” said Holcomb. “The bird is in a stable condition.”

IBRRC’s Holcomb is heading the organization’s Gulf spill response team. Holcomb 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.

International Bird Rescue will be hosting a daily teleconference once the rehabilitation center set-up is complete. For up to the minute updates on bird rescue efforts in the Gulf, follow @IBRRC on Twitter.