Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘oiled’

December 20, 2019

Oldest Known Banded King Eider Found 23 Years After Oil Spill Care

Male King Eiders are super colorful sea ducks commonly found in Arctic waters. CC photo by Ron Knight

A new bird banding report shows something truly remarkable: the oldest known King Eider – a species of sea duck – was a 24-year-old oil spill survivor cared for by International Bird Rescue. This finding proves once again that rehabilitated, formerly-oiled birds can survive many years after treatment and release back to the wild.

The latest discovery involves a male King Eider (Somateria spectabilis) that was oiled as an adult during an oil spill in Alaska in 1996. The recovered bird survived 23 years after oiling and release, and according to federal banding information, is one of the oldest known banded King Eiders.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Bird Banding Lab, which administers the scientific banding or ringing of wild birds in the U.S., the previously oldest recorded King Eider was an unoiled female that was at least 22 years 1 month old when she was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Nunavut, Canada.

In 1996 rescued King Eiders were cleaned of oil after being flown to Anchorage from the Pribilof Islands. Photo © International Bird Rescue

This important news underscores what Bird Rescue has been advocating from its beginnings: oiled birds can and DO survive to live normal lives when rehabilitated after oiling, with appropriate resources and skilled staff. This is especially true when wildlife experts follow the protocols that have been refined over our nearly 50-year history.

Watch the video: Every Release Matters

“Bird Rescue has developed and remains at the forefront of the State of the Science for oiled wildlife treatment and rehabilitation,’ said Catherine Berg, NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator for Alaska. Berg was one of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Alaska Oil Spill Response Coordinators. (Ron Britton was also worked as the National USFWS Oil Spill Coordinator and managed the Citrus spill along with Pamela Bergmann at the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Environmental Policy & Compliance, and Claudia Slater of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.)

“Seeing this kind of evidence of rehabilitated bird survival is truly a tribute to their dedication to the advancement of the science and to improving the care of injured birds.” Berg added.

The long-lived eider is also a testament to both Bird Rescue’s and the State of Alaska’s commitment to the successful concept of having a centralized response center to care for affected wildlife, rather than attempting the care and cleaning of animals in a remote, inaccessible location. All the birds from this spill were transported from a remote island for care in a centralized facility run by Bird Rescue in Anchorage.

The long-lived King Eider carried the Federal Band #1347-54951.

The reported King Eider was originally oiled during the M/V Citrus Oil Spill that began in mid-February 1996 in Alaska’s Pribilof Islands around St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea, approximately 300 miles from the nearest mainland, and 750 miles from Anchorage. One hundred eighty-six birds, mainly eiders, were rescued near St. Paul and transported by U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft to Bird Rescue’s Anchorage emergency response center. After medical stabilization, washing, and rehabilitation, the cleaned seabirds were again transported (a four hour flight) back to St. Paul Island, where their release was celebrated by the community and with the participation of schoolchildren.

Bird Rescue is proud of its work and the body of knowledge regarding the care of oiled wildlife that it has cultivated and shared since its inception in 1971. Data such as band returns on these species provide critical feedback to our rehabilitation processes, and clearly we are on the right track.

The deceased eider (Federal Band #1347-54951) was taken near English Bay on St. Paul Island earlier this year. The metal band number was reported to the USGS Bird Banding Lab and they shared the information with Bird Rescue.

Male King Eiders are known for their very ornate and distinctive plumage. The male’s black and white feathers are accented by a reddish orange bill, bluish crown and greenish cheek. They are found in Arctic waters.

This is the fourth King Eider from the 1996 spill that has been reported through the Bird Banding Lab.

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 5, 2010

Day 6: Pelican washed; Response team grows

On the sixth day of the Gulf Oil Spill response, additional International Bird Rescue response team members has been activated, a brown pelican was successfully washed and we continue to assist Tri-State Bird Rescue in the set up of three more wildlife care centers.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director, is writing a daily update from Louisiana. Here’s the day six update:

On Monday we washed the brown pelican that was captured yesterday. It was caught on Storm Island, on a small remote island in the outer barrier islands of the Mississippi Delta. I was told that there were other oiled pelicans seen but were not catchable at this point. We have still not been allowed to go out to these islands to look for birds. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is heading up the retrieval of oiled birds and there have been delays. However, we were able to get our search and capture teams activated for the first time today and are now out in the field looking for birds.

The brown pelican that was washed did great and took about 40 minutes to complete. We washed the bird during our 1 to 2 pm daily press conference and this allowed them to get some visuals on the bird. The press was cooperative and supportive of our work.

The other three centers are coming on line and they do not have any birds at this time. Tri-State and IBRRC staff continue to work diligently to bring these centers on line. DAWN has sent many cases of detergent to these three facilities and these will be shared with the turtle and mammal response groups as needed. The sea turtle and mammal response effort is being organized and managed by Dr. Mike Ziccardi of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network whom IBRRC works closely with in California.

IBRRC now has 16 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

As many of you know, IBRRC has responded to many oil spills over the years but have never experienced something like this where the spill seems to mostly be sitting in one large area and slowly moving back and forth at the mercy of the tides and weather. Although we know it is close to some shorelines it still has not hit the shore heavily in any area. Pelicans, terns and other plunge feeding birds are the most at risk as they will plunge into water to catch prey.

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

There are now Oiled Bird Rescue Centers in Fort Jackson, Louisiana, Theodore, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida.

Accredited media and press are welcome to visit the Fort Jackson rescue center daily from 1 PM to 2 PM: MSRC, 100 Herbert Harvey Drive, Buras, Louisiana.

See map below:


View Larger Map

May 4, 2010

Day 5: Weather still hampering search for oiled birds

It’s the fifth day of Gulf oil spill response and International Bird Rescue is working quickly with Tri-State Bird Rescue, to staff and set up and wildlife care centers in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

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

Hello everyone. I have been in Venice Louisiana for five days and finally have email access. I wanted to write a brief note to all the people who have wished us well, supported IBRRC and are watching the news as the spill in the gulf of Mexico progresses.

The weather has really hampered attempts to initiate a search and collection effort for oiled birds. As soon as the storm subsides and the safety officers decide that it is safe to go out looking for oiled birds then we will commence with that program.

IBRRC and Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Inc. are not in charge of the wildlife collection program. It’s being managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). However, IBRRC and Tri-State are providing trained and experienced personnel to help with this effort. Six of our capture teams are currently on site and more are coming in the next few days. We hope to start going out in the field tomorrow.

On Monday, May 3, we received the second oiled bird. It was a Brown Pelican that was picked up in one of the remote islands in Southern Louisiana by the USFWS. The bird is in good condition. (See photo ^above^)

Many people have asked how we organize and manage a spill of this magnitude. It is impossible for one organization to attempt to manage the oiled wildlife rehabilitation program that incorporates four states, large quantities of oil and vast areas of shoreline. Because of this, Tri-state and IBRRC have once again joined forces and combined our individual oiled wildlife response teams into one larger team capable of handling a large spill such as this one.

Between both the organizations we have responded to about 400 oil spills. In this case Tri-State is taking the lead role and IBRRC is working in tandem with them to help provide oversight for the rehabilitation program.

In 2005 we worked together in the same area in Venice, Louisiana and cared for over 200 baby oiled pelicans that were oiled after a pipeline broke and crude oil was strewn over one of the islands in the Breton Island National Refuge during Tropical Storm Arlene. We have also partnered on many other spills in the U.S. and in other countries.

I will keep you all updated as we move ahead in this oil spill.

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

November 13, 2008

New wildlife rescue training classes offered

IBRRC is pleased to offer a handful of new day-long wildlife rescue classes, designed by WildRescue’s Rebecca Dmytryk. The first will be offered at IBRRC’s Fairfield, CA bird center on Sunday, December 7, 2008. Others are scheduled for Berkeley, Oakland and Fremont in January and February 2009. Classes in Southern California will also be scheduled soon. See complete list

Participants will be taught successful capture strategies and handling and restraint methods of native species, regulations, re-nesting of young, first aid and stabilization, and disaster response. Completion of this class does not in any way exempt students from local, state, and federal laws governing the capture and possession of oiled or non-oiled wildlife.

Each class is from 8 AM to 5 PM. The classes are only open to those 18 years and older.

More information and sign-up for this training class

This past Saturday, November 7th, response team members Mark Russell, Rebecca Dmytryk and Duane Titus marked the one-year anniversary of the Cosco Busan by teaching a wildlife capture class to a large group of Bay Area citizens. The class, offered by WildRescue, was an overwhelming success, filled with optimism and enthusiasm.

Wildlife rescue is a new and evolving profession. No where else can you find this unique curriculum of skills being taught by those who have been rescuing debilitated wild animals throughout the world for over 37 years. While offering this unique schooling to other wildlife rescue organizations, government agencies, and the public, IBRRC sees this as a means of identifying potential candidates for its response team recruitment campaign – a program funded by a generous grant recently awarded by the San Francisco Foundation Cosco Busan Oil Spill Fund.

In 2009 IBRRC will invite 30 people to participate in a year-long training program to develop the skills they’ll need to join their California based emergency response team. 10 new members will be added to IBRRC oiled wildlife response team and 20 new people will join the rehabilitation team.

Nothing like this has ever been done before. This is a new and exciting step forward in bolstering California’s ability to respond effectively to oiled wildlife.

Download the class flyer

July 30, 2008

Rockhopper penguin: Before and after oiling

During the recent Syros oil spill in Argentina, we received these adorable photos of Rockhopper Penguins. On the left is a clean penguin and on the right is the Rockhopper waiting patiently for its cleaning bath (below).

Local rehabilitation teams organized by the joint efforts of IBRRC and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) worked the spill in Uraguay.

More than 14,000 cubic meters of fuel oil were spilled when two tankers collided 12 miles (20 km) from the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. The Greek oil tanker Syros and Maltese-registered Sea Bird reportedly crashed into each other while trying to avoid a collision with a third vessel. The 24 mile-long spill drifted towards Buenos Aires and shortly after, oiled-covered birds began surfacing in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina.

Yes, the oiled birds were cleaned in Dawn dishwashing liquid. We’ve found that Dawn cuts the oil from feathers without injuring the bird. IBRRC has been using donated Dawn product from Procter & Gamble for many years. See: Dark before Dawn


See an earlier post.

May 4, 2008

Good news for Bald eagles oiled in Alaska

There’s good news for most of the 30 Bald Eagles saved in Kodiak, Alaska in January after they tangled with a truck full of oily fish guts. At least 26 birds were successfully released back into the wild in the Kodiak area after being cared for at the IBRRC/Bird TLC bird center in Anchorage. Only two area still in care. Here’s the latest tally:

– 30 birds received
– 1 died the first night
– 29 birds washed
– 1 self released
– 28 birds moved to flight pens
– 1 bird developed a wing abscess
– 1 bird found starving & returned to Bird TLC

(As of this week, only two of the 30 original birds are in care)

Back in mid January 50 eagles of the majestic birds were coasted in fish oil after landing in an uncovered fish guts truck at the Ocean Beauty Seafood company. 20 of the birds suffocated with the birds rushed the truck. See the full story on the IBRRC website

April 9, 2008

NTSB: Pilot’s personal issues affected judgement

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing looking into the Cosco Busan oil spill, shed more light on the personal problems of the pilot captain that may have contributed to the disaster on San Francisco Bay.

The NTSB revealed that Capt. John Cota is an alcoholic who also was using prescription drugs during work hours to treat depression and sleep apnea.

“I wouldn’t want anyone taking those medicines and having to make decisions in a safety-sensitive position,” Dr. Robert Bourgeois told an NTSB panel on Wednesday.

With Cota piloting the 900-foot Cosco Busan, the ship struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in heavy fog on November 7, 2007. It spilled toxic fuel oil into the bay that fouled the bay and killed at least 2,500 birds.

Cota through his attorney is refusing to testify at the panel’s hearing in Washington, DC this week. He is citing his 5th amendment right against self incrimination.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle story

March 24, 2008

Birds sickened along central coast a mystery

IBRRC has been assisting with the care of hundreds of birds that have been showing up with a mysterious illness along the central coast of California from Morro Bay south to Santa Barbara. Many of the 200+ birds are also showing signs of oiling.

The grebes are being treated at IBRRC’s Corelia and San Pedro centers. They are mainly Western and Clark’s grebes, two species that are common long the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Many have come from the Oceano Dunes area near San Luis Obispo. About one-third the birds have died.

Feather samples of the oiled birds are being examined by the state’s Fish and Game division: the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR). The samples should help determine if this the result of natural seepage in the area or an unreported oil spill.

Oil seepage occurs naturally all along the coast of California. Most of seeps affect the Santa Barbara Channel area near Coal Oil Point. Oil seeps have been documented by early California explorers and by coast-dwelling Chumash Indians. Recent storms may have stirred up the oil which usually floats on currents as tar balls. See a map of California oil seeps

Pacific Wildlife Care center in Morro Bay has been collecting the birds and arranging transportation to IBRRC’s centers.

January 12, 2008

Four companies accused of oil spill in Patagonia

The local government in Patagonia has formally accused four oil companies for complicity in the oil spill off the coast of Chubut, Argentina that oiled hundreds of birds and damaged the ecosystem along a four kilometer coastline.

Before the local court, the Chubut province government named Terminales Maritimas Patagonias, (Termap), which operates an offshore oil loading platform north of Comodoro Rivadavia where the spill originally occurred. Other companies include: Repsol-YPF, Sociedad Internacional Petrolera (Sipetrol, from Chile) and Pan American Energy Iberica that jointly hold the majority package of Termap.

Local authorities suspect the oil spill occurred on December 27, 2007 when oil was being loaded on a tanker. The first signs of the spill were discovered by residents from Caleta Córdoba, a small fishing village.

Read the full story

IBRRC response to spill

January 9, 2008

School kids helping out: "Dimes for Ducklings"

After seeing news reports on the Cosco Busan oil spill, a fourth grade class in New Jersey raised nearly $600 to donate to help save more birds. The class created a campaign they called “Dimes for the Ducklings” and made posters and sent morning announcements telling other students about the plight of oiled birds.

This was all done under the direction of teacher Kathleen Zapoticky at Adamsville School in Bridgewater, NJ. Kathleen said the school raised $578.00 in three weeks and she used the money to adopt a snowy egret, a duckling, a great blue heron, and a pelican. She also purchased t-shirts to reward her students for all their hard work.

A big thanks to the Adamsville School community and the wonderful fourth graders who participated in this well meaning event.

The school on the web: http://www.brrsd.k12.nj.us/adamsville/adamsville_school.htm

January 9, 2008

Day 55 of spill: More oil churned up by storms

Recent San Francisco Bay Area storms seem to be churning up more of the oil that spilled from the Cosco Busan two months ago. According to news reports, the Coast Guard sent clean-up teams to several beaches along the East Bay shoreline of San Francisco Bay today. Apparently oil was spotted in the Emeryville area this week. KCBS radio report

So far, the Coast Guard says they have recovered about 30 percent of the 58,000 gallons that spilled into the bay on November 7, 2007. The spill happened after the Cosco Busan container ship struck the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge in heavy fog while heading out of the bay.

Over 2,500 birds died from the spill. Another 400 were saved and cleaned and then released back into the wild.

KGO-TV report

January 8, 2008

Vinnie’s Odyssey: The journey of an oiled cormorant

Two months after the Cosco Busan oil spill, the bird center has been deactivated from treating oiled birds, but memories AND media stories are still surfacing. I meant to post this one about Vinnie, the adorable double-crested cormorant rescued and stabilized in Marin and washed of bunker oil in Cordelia.

This nice piece by writer Jim Staats and photographer Jeff Vensel appeared in the Marin Indepedent Journal just before Christmas. They followed an oiled bird from rescue to rehabilitation. The slide show of photos and audio capture the hard work by everyone involved.

Slide show

Full story

December 13, 2007

Cleaned of oil, Red-tailed Hawks back home

In the “lets make it right” category. Please take a look at the wonderful release of two young red-tailed hawks oiled in the aftermath of the Cosco Busan oil spill last month. They were cleaned of oil at our facility in Cordelia and spent weeks in treatment at WildCare in San Rafael.

As many know already, raptors saw the spill as a golden opportunity to feed on oiled, weak and dying birds along the San Francisco Bay shorelines. What came natural to theses hawks probably has killed many more.

The release of these lucky red-tails this week is testimony to the power of humans trying to heal the balance of nature that we all have altered.

The photos and audio are from Jeff Vendsel a gifted photographer at the Marin Indepedent Journal. See the slide show

Read the full story

November 27, 2007

The top ten of sadness: Oiled bird species list

Species most often found covered in oil
(In order of impact)
1. Surf scoter
2. Western grebe
3. Eared grebe
4. Greater scaup
5. Horned grebe
6. Ruddy duck
7. Common murre
8. Common loon
9. Lesser scaup
10. Clark’s grebe

Dead oiled birds
(In order of impact)
1. Surf scoter
2. Western grebe
3. Common murre
4. Western or Clark’s grebe*
5. Brandt’s cormorant
6. Greater scaup
7. Eared grebe
8. Double-crested cormorant
9. Northern fulmar
10. Western gull
* Hybrid category was created because in some circumstances it is impossible to determine type of grebe

Source: California Department of Fish and Game