Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘Jay Holcomb’

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)

December 29, 2010

A Recipe For Bird Rescue

Dear Friends,

What does it take to rescue a sick or injured bird?

Every year, IBRRC cares for more than 5,000 stricken aquatic birds at our two California rescue centers.

We are currently caring for dozens of birds oiled by natural seep of oil along our coast, birds impacted by the massive storms that are moving through California and birds with gun shot injuries and fishing line entanglements. We also receive many species of waterfowl like a tundra swan (right photo) that was found cold and weak in a farmer’s field.

These birds’ lives depend on the kindness of strangers — people like you.

Will you make a contribution to help them? Through December 31, friends of IBRRC will match all donations, dollar for dollar, up to $15,000. That means your support will go twice as far to help birds.

Our centers are the last line of defense for sick and injured birds. If we didn’t exist, there would be nowhere else for them to go.

As a result, at any given time we often have hundreds of birds in our care. And we depend heavily on our wonderful volunteers to help a small paid staff keep our clinics open 365 days a year.

IBRRC’s recipe for rescue:
1. Capture or admit the stricken bird
2. Perform triage
3. Provide treatment and medication
4. Feed and house in a safe environment
5. Observe, monitor and evaluate for release
6. Release back into the wild

Ingredients: Medicine, Water, sheets, towels, Medical supplies, pools, food and trained staff and volunteers

Costs to feed and care for a recovering bird vary by species, but ranges from $10 to $50 a bird per day.

Please help us continue to rescue these birds. Your donation will be matched, dollar for dollar, through December 31, doubling your impact on helping birds.

Thank you in advance. Your support means so much to us.

Sincerely,

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

 

P.S. If you prefer to mail a check, please send it to:

IBRRC
c/o 2010 Gift
4369 Cordelia Road
Fairfield, CA 94534
Phone: (707) 207-0380 Ext. 109

November 30, 2010

Every bird matters: Your donation does too!

Dear friend,

Perhaps you have heard this wonderful and apocryphal story before. It is one I have always found especially pertinent to IBRRC’s work.

An old man was walking along the beach and saw in the distance a young boy who appeared to be dancing and gyrating at the ocean’s edge. As the man got closer, he realized that the boy was not dancing at all. The tide had gone out, beaching thousands and thousands of starfish. The boy was throwing starfish one after the other back into the ocean so that they might survive.

“Son, you can’t possibly throw all of those starfish back. How can what you are doing possibly matter,” the old man asked.

As the boy threw yet another starfish back into the safety of the ocean, he replied “it mattered to that one.”

That story captures the heart and soul of IBRRC’s work. It matters to every bird we save.

This holiday season, please consider making a generous contribution to International Bird Rescue Research Center. For the next six days, a generous donor will match your contribution dollar for dollar, up to a total of $5000.

For four decades, IBRRC has been at the forefront of efforts to rescue and rehabilitate seabirds threatened by oil spills, other man-made injuries, and unusual illnesses. Our work has taken us to South Africa, Latin America, Alaska, and of course most recently to the front lines of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Even as many of our most experienced rescue workers toiled in the Gulf, seabirds and other aquatic birds continued to pour in to one of our two West Coast rescue facilities. We treated more than 2,800 pelicans, grebes, herons, geese, ducks and other species at our Northern and Southern California facilities between April and October.

BP paid the costs of our Gulf rescue work, but our day-to-day operations depend on donations from people like you.

And, for the next six days, your donations will be matched dollar for dollar, up to a total of $5000. Please give generously today.

Our centers and rescue teams are available 24/7 every day of the year. And it is rare for a day to go by without new arrivals requiring urgent medical care.

You can be assured that your life-saving donation to IBRRC will go far. Much of our work is handled by volunteers who give countless hours of time and love to the birds we treat. Your gift will cover medical supplies, food for recovering birds, and the other necessities of maintaining two state-of-the-art avian ERs.

Just like the boy in the story, our work has mattered — to thousands of birds that survived the trauma of oil slicks, fishhook injuries, and mass outbreaks of illness with a little help from people who care.

Thank you for your past concern and thank you in advance for your generous support during this holiday season.

Sincerely,

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

P. S. A recovering pelican eats 5 pounds of fish a day. Your donation will help ensure that the birds in our care stand the best possible chance to thrive in the wild once they are released.

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.

5406
— 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.

Sincerely,

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.

November 2, 2010

IBRRC’s Holcomb earns John Muir award

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We’re very pleased to announce that IBRRC’s Executive Director, Jay Holcomb, has been named the 2010 John Muir Association’s Conservationist of the Year.

The 33rd Annual John Muir Conservation Awards chooses “individuals who have excelled in environmental protection, or made significant contributions to the advancement of conservation.”

Jay is being recognized for his 25 years of passionate leadership at International Bird Rescue Research Center and most recently in leading IBRRC’S 80-person bird rescue response team at the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

This is the second award this year for Jay who was also named Oceana’s 2010 Ocean Hero in June for his commitment to ocean conservation.

With 40 years of wildlife rehabilitation work, Jay is honored to accept this prestigious award. “It is a real honor to receive this award and, even in the remotest way, be associated with the great John Muir,” said Jay. “At International Bird Rescue we believe that every bird matters. Our focus for nearly 40 years has been on making a difference to the lives of individual animals and it is quite wonderful to see this approach being acknowledged through a prestigious conservation award such as this.”

A dinner and award ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, November 13, 2010 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Campbell Theatre, 636 Ward Street (at Estudillo) in Martinez, California 94553. Details

The mission of the John Muir Association is to celebrate the life, share the vision, and preserve the legacy of John Muir through education, preservation, advocacy and stewardship, in partnership with the National Park Service at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California.

John Muir (1838-1914) was America’s most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist. He also has been called “The Father of our National Parks,” “Wilderness Prophet,” and “Citizen of the Universe.” Muir spent the last years of his life in the San Francisco Bay Area. The National Park Service purchased his home in 1964 to preserve his legacy for future generations.

Again congratulations to Jay for his tireless leadership and dedication to furthering IBRRC’s mission – saving the lives of birds threatened by oil spills, environmental changes and human interaction through rescue and education.

– The IBRRC Team

June 8, 2010

IBRRC’s Jay Holcomb Earns Ocean Hero Award

IBRRC executive director Jay Holcomb was named Oceana’s Ocean Hero for 2010. Holcomb is currently leading IBRRC’s bird rescue effort in the Gulf, working alongside Tri-State Bird Rescue to care for wildlife caught in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Ocean Heroes contest was created in 2009 to recognize individuals making a difference for the ocean, with winners announced on World Oceans Day. This year, Oceana also named a group of Junior Ocean Heroes, honoring The Shark Finatics from Green Chimney High School in New York.

“We are proud to honor these everyday people who are making a difference for the ocean,” says Oceana’s CEO Andrew Sharpless. “In light of the disaster in the Gulf and the state of the oceans worldwide, we need people like the Holcomb and the Finatics to continue their work and inspire others to get involved.”

Oceana’s 2010 Ocean Heroes contest was launched in March, when the general public was invited to submit nominations. Finalists were selected by a panel of experts from Oceana, and the public was invited to vote online to select the winners.

Holcomb is a lifelong California resident who has been passionate about the ocean since his childhood along the coast. He began his career at the Marin Humane Society and then helped found the rehabilitation program at the Marin Wildlife Center. He joined IBRRC in 1986 with 20 years of animal rehabilitation experience, and has responded to over 200 oil spills around the world, including the 1989 Exxon Valdez and the 1979 Gulf spills.

“It is particularly poignant that I have won this award in the midst of the greatest oil spill in U.S. history,” said Holcomb. “My career stems from a passion that has burned in me since I was a child. I have always approached my work as trying to change the world one bird at a time. My hope is that this award reminds people that whatever we can do personally to protect our ocean does make a difference, no matter how overwhelming the task may seem at times.”

Given his busy schedule on the ground in the Gulf, Holcomb has limited availability for interviews.

Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Its teams of marine scientists, economist, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. More at oceana.org

June 8, 2010

Heavily oiled birds and response "blame game"

With more oiled birds coming into Gulf Oiled Wildlife Centers each day, Executive Director, Jay Holcomb, takes time to update and explain the spill response from IBRRC’s perspective:

As you can see we have had a significant spike in the number of birds that we are receiving in the Ft. Jackson center here in Louisiana. (See: Updated bird numbers) This is because a section of the oil slick has come to shore near Grand Isle and birds living in that area are now being impacted. Many of the birds that you have seen on the news are birds that are currently here at the center. I know that it is heartbreaking to see these pictures, but they are an accurate and true depiction of what is going on here. Nothing is worse than an innocent animal covered in oil helplessly struggling to survive. Heavily oiled birds always become the symbol of any oil spill when images are taken and that is appropriate as they clearly show what can happen in a massive spill. 

We have been busy here working with the birds and putting in long hours so I do not always get the time to write on the blog but there are a few things I wanted to share with our readers.

First, the pelicans that are here are in good health but very heavily oiled. I tell the media that they look like they are fondued – more or less dipped in the oil. That is because the fish they eat often swim and hide below floating surface oil and when the pelicans plunge into the water to catch them, they become oiled. A few of our field teams have witnessed this and actually seen fish jumping onto the oil and then watch as a gull or pelican goes after it and then becomes oiled. The ocean here is teaming with fish so it stands to reason that this would happen. The things that are working in our favor are that these are healthy and strong birds and the oil is aged enough so that it does not have much smell to it or volatile aromatics. That is the better part of this but what is a problem for the birds and us is that the oil is very gooey and thick. It is taking about 45 minutes to an hour to wash each bird as we have to pre-treat the birds with a warmer light oil to loosen the crude oil up and then wash the bird using DAWN dishwashing liquid. Lots of it! We are getting it off but it takes some scrubbing.

Another thing in the birds favor is that it is very warm this time of year and the birds are able to survive longer than birds in colder climates. This is in the birds favor but is debilitating for the people working on the birds. We have to shift our people and it’s a difficult situation for us in that respect. The other birds such as gulls and herons have a more difficult time with being this oiled. A few have died so far but many are making it also. They require a lot of supportive care.

I also want to mention the great people that are here helping to care for the birds. There are the response team members of Tri-state Bird Rescue Research Inc. and our team from IBRRC but also many individuals that are part of the Louisiana State Animal Rescue Team (LSART). The LSART helps us by bringing in people from all backgrounds including wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians that are all based in Louisiana. They are making up a large part of the work force and are really great. I need to mention that it is very important to give these people the opportunity to contribute first to helping offset the impact of the spill by helping us. They survived Hurricane Katrina and are now dealing with this situation. So, in that sense it’s appropriate that we use local resources first to fill in the ranks of our expanded rehab teams. As I have mentioned before, there are literally thousands of people who have been wait-listed who want to help. They will be called in as needed but so far they are not. It’s as simple as that.

I also feel the need to mention the “blame game” that I am not a stranger to. As you may have seen, I play a few key roles here at the Ft. Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. First, I provide oversight for the rehabilitation program as I have had many years of experience in managing large scale oiled wildlife rehabilitation efforts and can use that experience to our advantage. Secondly, I took on the role of External Affairs person because I knew that this would be an explosive and political situation when I first heard of this incident and therefore I felt that I was best suited to act as the voice for our efforts to rehabilitate these birds. So, I manage the intense media attention that has been put on the rehabilitation program. I like the media and I can speak to them from a historical perspective, a wildlife rehabilitation perspective and from a place of transparency as I agree that the world needs to see what is happening in this situation here in the gulf.

We have been allowing the media into the center every day from 1 to 2pm, usually longer, in the afternoon to do interviews, see the birds and get the stories. Now that we are getting very busy we are changing that to 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 3pm just so we can focus on the birds as giving the media their fair time takes a lot of attention away from our work. I request that everyone understand that this has been put into place for the sake of the animals and respect our new schedule.

Lets talk about the blame game real quick before I hit the sack. One of the questions I get every day from reporters is, “How does this spill compare to the Exxon Valdez oil spill?” well, there are many similarities and differences. Most notably the environment, weather and species impacted are vastly different but what is similar are the politics. This a big spill with a large oil company, a lot of scrutiny and a lot of people blaming each other. That is what it is but it was just a matter of time until the wildlife rehabilitators got blamed also. I knew this going into it. IBRRC and Tri-State are contracted by BP to manage the rehabilitation of the birds that are oiled in this spill so some think that we have signed over our rights as independent organizations. Nothing is farther from the truth. We have worked with the oil industry or whoever is the responsible party since 1971 to provide our unique, proven and qualified services of rehabilitating oiled birds and other wildlife. Collectively our organizations have responded to about 400 oil spills ranging from tens of thousands of birds to just a few and may I humbly state that we are the most qualified groups in the world to manage a program such as this one. We work very well together and become one large team in large-scale events such as this oil spill.

Our amazing founder, Alice Berkner, always said to me that the reason that she got involved in this work was because she felt somewhat responsible as a credit card holder of the company who was responsible for the spill in 1971 that initiate the founding of IBRRC. (See: Founders Perspective) I have always felt that way also. Her bottom line was that we all use oil products but are quick to pass the buck when oil is spilled and that seemed irresponsible. She was transparent in her initial approach to the petroleum industry. Alice wanted to help the birds with protocols based in sound science and manage oiled wildlife rehab programs with proven crisis management systems, so she created IBRRC to do just that. Instead of attacking the oil industry for the spills, which everyone else was doing, she gave them a solution and that was to use IBRRC to help offset some of the damage that oil spills do to the environment as no one was doing that back then. That began a steep learning curve that is still going on today and we have managed to improve the care we give to the birds immensely over the years.

So, here we are, almost 40 years on with a lot of experience and expertise under our belts and something we can offer to once again help in the clean up of the spill by helping these animals that really are our collective responsibility to care for. They belong to us, they are precious and they need our help. Here in Louisiana we are caring for them as best we know how right now in 2010. We will be blamed for our association with the oil industry, accused of selling out etc. We already have been. It’s nothing new to us. So, for the blamers out there please keep in mind that as you drive your car or are reading this on your computer that your life was made a hell of a lot easier because of oil and we all have benefited greatly from it. So who is to blame? No one! BP is accountable for their accident here in the gulf and they are being held accountable, as they should be. But we the people are also accountable as consumers of the products the petroleum industry provides us and maybe the silver lining in this horrific and catastrophic event is that people will wake up and ask themselves this question. “Is the cost of exploring for, using and transporting fossil fuels and their byproducts worth the risk?” Look at that iconic picture of the gull covered in oil from this spill. If you can live with that, drive your car, discard your plastic water bottles and tell your kids that it is all OK then go for it. If not then change the future through taking some level of responsibility about what has happened, use your brain, your intent and your desire to change the future of how we fuel our world. Stop blaming everyone for what you had a hand in creating. No one is right or wrong here. We are all in this together. It’s just about the choices we make, individually and collectively, and maybe its time to evaluate those choices. Everything is an opportunity and maybe that is the opportunity that this spill is providing for us.– a chance to reevaluate how we move into the future and protect our earth while enjoying our lives. Think about it.

Its 4 am and I am going to get a tiny bit of shut eye.

Later! – Jay, from Fort Jackson, Louisiana

International Bird Rescue is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC more than 20 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform 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.

At least 40 million gallons of crude has been dumped into the Gulf of Mexico and harmed fragile breeding grounds for Brown Pelicans and other shorebirds. Six weeks after the blow out, BP has yet to significantly stem the flow in the nation’s worst oil disaster.

June 4, 2010

Update from the center of Gulf oiled bird care

The numbers of severely oiled birds jumped yesterday and Jay Holcomb returns with his updates from the BP Gulf Oil Spill wildlife response:

Well, I am sure by now you have all seen the pictures of the oiled birds that were captured in Grand Isle, Louisiana. We are busy today with those birds and I have been delinquent in writing current blog postings. I will begin again tonight and keep you all updated. 

Please know that we are all doing well here, unhappy like you that this is happening, but we have a great master plan to offset as much damage to the birds as we can. For those of you who are asking about ways that you can either support us or donate to us, I thank you for your generosity. I also want you all to understand that this entire oiled bird rehabilitation effort is being paid for by BP. This is appropriate as they are the Responsible Party for this spill.

If you would like to send donations then please keep in mind that your local wildlife rehabilitation organization really needs your help also. They care for the same wild animals that are being impacted by the spill. A pelican is a pelican whether is it tangled in fishing tackle or oiled! Please send support to your local wildlife rehabilitation organizations. You can also support IBRRC and Tri-State’s ongoing bird rehabilitation efforts if you like and that information is available on our web sites.

Talk to you very soon,

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director from Fort Jackson, Louisiana

International Bird Rescue is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC more than 20 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform 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.

At least 40 million gallons of crude has been dumped into the Gulf of Mexico and harmed fragile breeding grounds for Brown Pelicans and other shorebirds. Six weeks after the blow out, BP has yet to significantly stem the flow 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.

May 22, 2010

New Gulf update: Oiled bird numbers increase


On the one month anniversary of the Gulf Oil Leak here’s the latest wildlife update from IBRRC’s Jay Holcomb:

Yesterday we received 3 more oiled birds at the Fort Jackson oiled bird rehabilitation facility. The included: One Brown Pelican, one Ruddy Turnstone and Semipalmated Sandpiper. No other birds were received at any of the other facilities. (Photo above, oiled Brown Pelican intake in Louisiana)

On Wednesday of this week we received another three oiled Northern Gannets in Fort Jackson and we continued washing and rehabilitating birds in Louisiana.

Our search and collection teams, working under the direction of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, continued patrolling impacted and other areas in the outer regions of the Mississippi River Delta region. Many healthy looking clean birds were sighted in the areas they covered and a few partially oiled birds were sighted here and there but were unable to be captured.

One oiled Brown Pelican came into the Pensacola, Florida bird rehabilitation center and one oiled Gannet came into the Theodore, Alabama rehabilitation center.

The complete list of birds received and under care are listed on our website A total of 27 live oiled birds have received in to Gulf wildlife care centers.

As always, we appreciate your concern,

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has about 20 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

May 19, 2010

Day 17: Making strides on oiled bird capture

A quick update follows on the Gulf Oil Leak wildlife response from IBRRC’s Jay Holcomb:

Tuesday was a good day for the capture teams on the water as the weather allowed our teams, who are working as part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) bird capture program, to cover a large area of water. Over 6,000 birds were sighted and most of them were clean. Oiled birds were found here and there and a total of 4 oiled birds were brought into the Fort Jackson bird rehabilitation facility in Louisiana – a brown pelican, least tern, northern gannet and a laughing gull. 

One oiled brown pelican was captured and brought into the Alabama facility on Tuesday also.

Search and collection efforts and the rehabilitation of the birds at these facilities are continuing.

Thanks for your interest,

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has about 20 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform 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.

The leak continues to spill oil into Gulf waters and BP has made some progress in plugging the gush of crude from the ocean floor. So far, experts believe the amount of oil in the water has surpassed the 11 million gallons spilled during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

May 18, 2010

Day 16: Search continues for oiled Gulf birds

Here’s the latest Gulf Oil Leak update from Jay Holcomb:

Yesterday was a hot but clear day in the Gulf of Mexico and it was a good day for the teams to get out in the field in all areas. In Louisiana the teams spotted many oiled terns and gulls that are still able to fly and will be working with teams from the USDA and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to see if it is possible to capture them with net guns. They also saw a lot of oil impacting the shore in the South Pass area of the Mississippi River basin. The crews witnessed a large fish kill and unusual floating blobs of oil below the surface of the water. It is assumed that it is oil mixed with dispersant but not confirmed. The situation is disturbing to all of us but we are working within the current structure to provide the best services that we can to help capture and rehabilitate oiled birds. 

In Louisiana we received another Northern Gannet that workmen plucked out of the water in one of the oiled areas. We also received an oiled Laughing Gull and an Oiled Starling. Although all the centers are receiving rehab birds, birds with other injuries but not oiled, no other oiled birds from this spill were captured.

I have been asked to compare this spill with the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill many times by the media. The obvious similarities are that large amounts of oil have leaked into a marine environment and therefore the ecosystem is as risk. A few of the differences are:

1. Alaska has hundreds of thousands of surface rafting (resting), diving and feeding birds, (Puffins, Murres, Auklets, Cormorants, Loons etc.) The Gulf of Mexico has fewer surface rafting birds but more plunge feeding birds (pelicans, gannets, terns) but the pelicans and terns spend a lot of time roosting on the outer islands and not on the water. So, impact of large rafts of these birds is unlikely. It’s more a case of individual birds plunging into oily water which is why we are getting gannets and pelicans.

2. The warm weather here allows oiled birds that are still flighted to stay warm for longer periods of time whereas even the smallest amounts of oil that penetrate to the skin of birds in cold climates puts them at immediate vulnerability to hypothermia and therefore death.

3. In Alaska there were many predators such as bald eagles and bears who took many of the oiled birds before we could get to them. In the gulf we do not have those predators on the outer islands but there are coyotes and raccoons on some of the islands.

We now have received 15 oiled birds since this incident began.

Thanks for your interest in our efforts,

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has about 20 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform 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.

The leak continues to spill oil into Gulf waters and BP has made some progress in plugging the gush of crude from the ocean floor. So far, experts believe the amount of oil in the water has surpassed the 11 million gallons spilled during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

May 17, 2010

Day 15: From the center of Gulf oiled bird care

After a very small break this weekend in Louisiana, Jay Holcomb is back with his daily updates from the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill response:

Louisiana – On Saturday we had a visit from Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Rebecca Dunne from Tri-State Bird Rescue and I gave him a tour through the Fort Jackson Center and allowed him to get a close up view of our team washing the latest oiled Brown Pelican that we received. The female pelican is a two year old that is a very sweet bird found in Grand Isle to the west of us. She is now outside with the other pelican and doing well, both are eating a lot of fish. 

For the last two days our capture teams in Louisiana were mostly grounded due to intense thunderstorms and lightning strikes on the water. Not safe! We took this time to check out land based pelican and tern roosting areas but no oiled birds were spotted.


The reports we are getting now are about birds out in the deep water oiled areas and on some of the islands but you have to have safe access to those areas. We are wading through politics and weather to get to those places to assess and capture oiled birds.

Yesterday afternoon we did receive an oiled Gannet that was luckily plucked out of the water by a fishing boat that was coming back to the harbor. Its an adult Northern Gannet, heavily oiled and will be washed today. (Photo, above, oiled Northern Gannet)

Alabama – Our oiled bird rehabilitation center in Alabama received 7 sick non-oiled, lethargic brown pelicans and 1 laughing gull from that area. They were discovered soon after a fish die off in the area and there are concerns that they may have botulism and it may be connected to the fish die off. 5 pelicans and the gull are still alive and they are temporarily being cared for at that facility until plans for their transfer to a rehab facility are completed.

Mississippi
– Our center in Gulfport received an oiled Gannet on Saturday and it is doing well. The bird will be washed soon. The center development and problem solving is coming along well.

Florida – Our center in Pensacola received an oiled gannet on Saturday also and it is doing well. The bird will also be washed soon.

Back at Home at our California Bird Rescue centers– It has taken a few weeks for us to get the wildlife centers on line here in the Gulf states and get a handle on this program and to understand and infiltrate ourselves into how its all working in this spill. In the mean time our centers at the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas are in spring mode and getting busier by the day. In that sense this spill could not have come at a worse time.

In order to support our staff and volunteers back at home in Cordelia (Northern California) and San Pedro (Southern California) we are hiring on extra summer help at both centers to make sure that the clinics are supported and run as smoothly as possible.

Also, we will probably be shifting our main clinic rehabilitation staff out to give each of them opportunities to work in the Gulf. We will be evaluating and are developing this plan daily as things progress here in the Gulf and we gain a better idea as to how long we may be staying. I will post more on how we are managing the spill, the centers back home as I have something to more to report.

Thanks for your continued support and words of encouragement,

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

International Bird Rescue is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has about 20 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform 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 are missing and presumed dead.

May 17, 2010

AP video: Cleaning Oiled Pelican in Louisiana

Response Team members, including IBRRC’s Heather Nevill, clean an oiled Brown Pelican Saturday at Fort Jackson, Louisiana Oiled Wildlife Center after being rescued at the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (baackground in video) visited the center over the weekend to see first hand how one of four rescue centers are setup to handle oiled wildlife. The Fort Jackson can handle 120 oiled birds. Other wildlife centers are up and staffed in Theodore, Alabama. Gulfport. Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida.

Note: Our Executive Director Jay Holcomb provides background narration in this AP Video Report.

May 14, 2010

Day 13 update: New oiled birds in care

The daily update from Thursday, May 13, of oiled wildlife care at the Gulf Oil Spill follows:

Yesterday we received one heavily oiled Brown Pelican at our Ft. Jackson Oiled Wildlife Center that was found near Grande Isle, Louisiana. We are expanding our capture efforts west towards that area. 

Our Gulfport, Mississippi center received one dead oiled Surf Scoter.

Most of the capture team in the Louisiana was grounded for good part of the day due to high winds. Bird search & capture efforts continued in the Mississippi, Alabama areas.

We will keep you updated on any new developments.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

International Bird Rescue is working with the main responder, Tri-State Bird Rescue of Delaware. IBRRC has 16 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform 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 are missing and presumed dead.

>Photo above: Heavily oiled Brown Pelican rescued at Grande Isle, LA on May 13th.