Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘report’

July 19, 2010

Scientists ask public to report banded birds

Scientists working on studying birds cleaned and released at the BP Gulf Oil Spill have a special request for birders and the general public: Please report sightings of these specially banded birds.

Birds from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster are banded with metal federal leg bands with a unique ID number. In addition, brown pelicans also receive a large color leg band. Three colors of leg bands are being used:

Orange bands with no identification numbers or letters.
Red bands with identifying numbers and letters.
Pink bands with identifying numbers and letters.

People who see the birds are asked to report sightings to the National Bird Banding Lab online: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/default.htm

Reporting the band number and the bird’s location will help biologists understand the movements and survival of the birds after their release. This information will assist Federal scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey and other organizations in studying these birds after release.

Birds are released only after wildlife specialists, Tri-State Bird Rescue and International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), determine they are sufficiently prepared and exhibit natural behavior including waterproofing, self-feeding, normal blood values, and are free of injuries or disease. They are released in appropriate habitats where human disturbance is minimal.

While the birds are often released in the Gulf area, they are released as far as possible from areas affected by the BP oil spill. Choosing release sites is complicated; biologists want to make sure that birds are released into the same populations from which they came, but with as little risk of getting re-exposed to oil as possible. To date, birds have been released in Texas, Florida and Georgia.

Ultimately, scientists use information gleaned from reports of banded birds to help answer a host of questions. Among those questions are: How long do formerly oiled birds survive? Where do the birds travel? Do immature birds select locations different than breeding-age adults? Do captured birds return to the area where they were captured? Do rehabilitated birds breed in future nesting seasons – and where?

See also: Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill detailed wildlife reports

For more information, please see the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center

January 26, 2010

Cosco Busan bird toll update; Plovers survive spill

A new federal bird report on the damage caused by a 2007 San Francisco Bay oil spill says the endangered Snowy Plover survived the spill in good numbers, but other species weren’t so lucky.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report says at least 6,700 ducks, loons, cormorants, gulls, pelicans and other birds were probably killed by the bunker fuel that spilled from the Cosco Busan Nov. 7, 2007. The container ship was being escorted by a pilot boat in heavy early morning fog when it side-swiped the Bay Bridge support structure.

The bird death toll was determined by multiplying the known bird body count by a factor of roughly 2.3.

According to the report, a 2.3 figure was computed by studying how long bird carcasses laid on beaches, how hard they were to find and how many of the deaths were caused by factors unrelated to the oil spill.

The good news is that nearly all Bay Area snowy plovers — tiny white-and-brown birds that nest in sand dunes and are listed federally as a threatened species — survived the deadly oil spill. The oil spread from Oakland and Alameda waters out the Golden Gate and closed beaches in San Francisco and Marin Counties.

IBRRC was one of the lead organizations responding to the spill and treated over 1,000 birds in its Northern California OWCN wildlife rescue center.

Birds killed due to 2007 Cosco Busan accident:

1,632 Diving ducks, including scoters and scaup
87 Loons
1,133 Western, Clark’s and other large grebes
494 Eared, horned and other small grebes
129 Northern fulmars
484 Cormorants
215 Gulls
21 Brown pelicans
609 Common murres
13 Marbled murrelets
130 Other members of the alcid family
1,421 Shorebirds
318 Other marsh or land birds

6,688 Total

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner

Photos courtesy:

Oiled Surf Scoter in Alameda. (Photo: Glenn Tepke)

Snowy Plover along shore (Photo: Tom Grey)

April 25, 2009

60,000 birds struck by aircraft since 2000

Almost 60,000 birds have been struck by commercial and private aircraft in North America a new FAA report revealed this week. The most common strike involved Mourning Doves: Pilots reported hitting 2,291 of the dove species between 2000 and 2008.

In eight years the other avian strikes included gulls (2,186), European starlings (1,427) and American kestrels (1,422).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) report also noted that New York’s Kennedy (JFK) airport and Sacramento International (SAC) reported the most incidents with serious damage. JFK reported 1,804 incidents with 84 that involved substantial damage or destroyed components; SAC had 1,438 and 56 major damage. San Francisco (SF0) airport: 1,014 and 45; Los Angeles (LAX): 940 bird strikes, 36.

Since 1990, there was a total of 112,387 reports of aircraft striking wildlife, including reptiles and mammals, at 2,008 airports in the United States and Canada. Pilots and airlines volunteerily report bird strikes to the FAA.

See the National Wildlife Strike Database on-line database

Bird strikes happen most often during take-off or landing, or during a low altitude flights. A serious danger to both birds and jet engines is when a flock of birds ingested into the engine.

The most recent famous bird flock vs. jet occurred in January 2009 when an Airbus A320 struck a flock of Canada Geese while climbing out from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The strike caused a nearly complete loss of power in both engines. Because of quick action from the US Airways flight 1549 flight crew, the plane made a successful emergency landing in the Hudson River. The 155 passengers and crew were mostly unhurt. The birds weren’t so lucky.

Many wildlife experts say the population of some birds, particularly large ones like Canada geese (photo above), have been growing as more and more birds find food to live near cities and airports year round rather than migrating. Airports also provide a wide variety of natural and human-made habitats that offer abundant food, water and cover. Many airports are located along migratory routes used by birds.

News reports:

CNN: Newly opened database shows airplane bird strikes not rare

San Francisco Chronicle: Birds damaged planes at SFO 45 times since 1990

Los Angeles Times: Airplane ‘bird strikes’ have climbed dramatically, FAA records show

March 27, 2009

New State OF Birds report: Concern and hope

The newest State of Birds report is out this month and there’s both concern and hope. We’re focusing on the The State of Ocean Birds, but the full report covers all areas: lakes, grassland, forest, etc.

From the report: Of 81 ocean bird species, almost half are of conservation concern, including 4 that are federally listed as endangered or threatened. Based on available data, 39% of ocean bird species are declining, 37% stable, and 12% increasing. Too little data exist to determine the population trends for 12% of ocean birds.

Consider these other facts:

  • At least 81 bird species inhabit our nation’s marine waters, spending their lives at sea and returning to islands and coasts to nest.
  • At least 39% of bird species in U.S. marine waters are believed to be declining, but data are lacking for many species. Improved monitoring is imperative for conservation.
  • Ocean birds travel through waters of many nations and are increasingly threatened by fishing, pollution, problems on breeding grounds, and food supplies altered by rising ocean temperatures.
  • The health of our oceans and wildlife will improve with policies that address sustainable fishing, changes in food supply, and pollution.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinated creation of the new report as part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative, which includes partners from American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Geological Survey.

See the full State of Birds report Note this is large PDF file!

March 18, 2009

Exxon Valdez oil remains just below the surface

With the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill upon us, a spate of news stories and opinion pieces will surely follow. However, one piece of information worthy of reading is a report that says oil from the spill in some places is “nearly as toxic as it was the first few weeks after the spill.”

The report makes it clear that just below the surface, oil from the 1989 spill still haunts the Prince William Sound tidal areas.

“In 2001, researchers at the Auke Bay Laboratories, NOAA Fisheries dug over 9,000 pits, at 91 sites, over a 95-day field season. Over half the sites were contaminated with Exxon Valdez oil. Oil was found at different levels of intensity from light sheening; to oil droplets; to heavy oil where the pit would literally fill with oil…In 2003, additional surveys determined that while the majority of subsurface oil was in the midintertidal, a significant amount was also in the lower intertidal. The revised estimate of oil was now more than 21,000 gallons (80,000 liters). Additional surveys outside Prince William Sound have documented lingering oil also on the Kenai Peninsula and the Katmai coast, over 450 miles away.”

Another sobering part of the report continues:

“The amount of Exxon Valdez oil remaining substantially exceeds the sum total of all previous oil pollution on beaches in Prince William Sound (PWS),including oil spilled during the 1964 earthquake. This Exxon Valdez oil is decreasing at a rate of 0-4% per year… At this rate, the remaining oil will take decades and possibly centuries to disappear entirely.”

Nearly 11 million gallons of oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez after it ran aground at Bligh Reef early on Good Friday, March 24, 1989. The ship was captained by Joseph Hazelwood and bound for Long Beach, California with 35 million gallons of crude. It is the largest oil spill in United States history and lives on as one of the largest ecological disasters.

IBRRC personnel spent six months at the spill helping coordinate animal search and collection and treatment of oiled birds. More than 1600 birds were recovered alive and over half were successfully released cleaned back into the wild.

The bird deaths during the spill were astronomical. Between 300,000 to 400,000 seabirds were believed killed by the spill. About 35,000 bird carcasses were recovered. The majority of birds killed were Murres.

The report was submitted by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council that was formed to oversee restoration of the injured ecosystem through the use of the $900 million civil settlement with Exxon.

See also:

IBRRC’s Exxon Valdez response history

Download the full 20th annivesary report, 9 MB pdf

Or the smaller version Word document without photos and charts

Note: Oil pool (top) from Eleanor Island in 2004. Photo: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

January 15, 2009

New pelican report: Cold weather to blame?

A New York Times story about the pelican crisis is quoting a state wildlife veterinarian that says the birds were brutalized by Mother Nature’s cold fury.

“Pelicans were observed in the middle of that storm and then seen moving south,” said David A. Jessup, senior wildlife veterinarian for the California Department of Fish and Game. About a week later, he said, ill birds started showing up on the California coast and further inland.

The tip-off for scientists, said Mr. Jessup, was frostbite. “It was severe in a lot of cases,” he said. “There were legs, toes and pouches frozen off.”

Read NY Times story: In Pelican Mystery, Weather Is a Suspect

Our report with photos and links is on our site

October 30, 2008

One year later: OWCN reflects on spill response

A very good update from the leader of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) on the upcoming anniversary of the Cosco Busan oil spill:

“Wildlife Experts Reflect on Anniversary of Big SF Bay Oil Spill”

One year after leading the second-largest rescue and rehabilitation of oiled seabirds in recent California history, UC Davis wildlife health experts are busy preparing for the next major oil spill.

“Our care for the wildlife affected by the Cosco Busan spill in San Francisco Bay demonstrated the excellence of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network as a whole,” said UC Davis wildlife veterinarian Michael Ziccardi, who directs the network. “It showed that a trained staff of dedicated professionals and volunteers, using research-based medicine in pre-established facilities, can save the lives of hundreds of animals that otherwise would have died.”

However, the rescue operation also revealed areas in the program that could be improved, Ziccardi said. “The infrastructure in place in California, following our four core tenets of readiness, response, research and reaching out, is truly not matched anywhere in the world. But our mission is to provide the best care possible to oiled wildlife, and with each spill, we learn how to make the ‘best care possible’ better.”

Ziccardi directed the care of birds of 31 species that were injured when more than 53,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled from the container ship Cosco Busan into San Francisco Bay on Nov. 7, 2007. Of 1,068 oiled birds collected alive, 418 birds (38.5 percent) were saved and later released back to the wild.

While lower than the typical 50 to 75 percent release rate that the network averages for California spills, Ziccardi said he considers this a success because “the spill occurred in the winter months (when birds are in poor condition), affected very stress-sensitive species, and affected a lot of birds — each of which makes it very difficult to repair the damage the oil causes.”

The injured birds were treated at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Fairfield, a 12,000-square-foot, $2.7 million facility capable of caring for up to 1,000 sick birds. It is the major Northern California rescue center in the statewide Oiled Wildlife Care Network, which is made up of 12 facilities and 25 local organizations that stand ready to care for oiled wildlife on short notice.

Read the full OWCN report online

Note: IBRRC is a leading member of OWCN and co-manages two of its main oiled wildlife response centers in California: Fairfield and San Pedro. More info

September 1, 2008

Video: Release of pelicans at Golden Gate Bridge



Another group of young pelicans were released back into the wild by IBRRC volunteers this weekend at Fort Baker near the Golden Gate Bridge. Most if not all of these brown pelicans had been rescued from collision of birds and anglers off the Santa Cruz County coastline in August. A lot of the pelicans came in with fishing tackle injuries before authorities closed the fishing piers in the Santa Cruz area.

Here are our five beautiful brown pelicans being released near Fort Baker. Quite a crowd had gathered in the parking lot on the higher level. All were quiet and respectful. There were many smiles.

John did the release. He wasn’t sure what to do when the first two pelis wouldn’t leave their carrier. He tried gently tilting the carrier. That didn’t work, of course. Then he tried to prop the carrier door open so he could go open the next two carriers. By that time, the first two had worked up their confidence and ventured out, followed by the others. The last to leave wasn’t sure…. He hung around for a little while, trying to make up his mind. We gave him as much time as he needed. And then he must have seen the others, and he took off. I was glad to see that all five were reunited in the water.

Thanks to Jean for the video report.

January 22, 2008

Argentina 1/21/08 Update: Oil spill response

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director, who is in Argentina, sent this update from Patagonia oil spill response this evening:

We established today as a big major penguin washing day so that we can wrap this spill up. With water issues and other problems we have only been able to wash a total of 25 or so penguins a day and we really wanted to do 30 to 40 a day. A few days ago we decided that we would do a long wash day and intend to do 50 to 60 penguins. That only leaves 30 or so oiled penguins left to wash and 10 of those are the weak ones that will go through the process once they are approved. So, today we washed a total of 50 Penguins leaving only 35 left to do and 5 of those are going to wait so only 30 to wash tomorrow.

Tomorrow we are re-evaluating all 29 King Cormorants and intend to release as many as possible the next day. We know a few have oil under their wings and have to be rewashed.

We are also re-evaluating the steamer ducks. We know 2 have to stay back because of problems but maybe the rest can go. Sergio and I worked a long time on getting them to feed and now the eat real well. We hung tarps on the pools so they are not very stressed during the day so that has improved life for them and they actually started eating when I was in the cage today.

We released another 12 Great Grebes today. They are some of the meanest birds I have ever cared for but one of the most exquisite looking birds. We only have 10 left so I am happy. I have been very stressed with dealing with the aggression and they have managed to kill a few of their pool mates and scalp some others. I have a pool of 3 scalped ones that need to start to grow feathers in by next week. Their waterproofing has been flawless from day one and that is amazing since I have NEVER cleaned their cages. There is no way to do that because it water is so cloudy. You cannot see the bottom and they eat the fish that falls on the bottom. This waterproofing is one of the things that has worked out for them and it is because Rudolpho set us such a brilliant system. Many of the keep sores have resolved and that is amazing also. Great birds and maybe the desert air, soft water and the type of fish they eat combine to make a good pool environment. Who knows?

The penguins are doing well, eating a lot and swimming increasing amounts every day and we will start to evaluate the first bunch of them for release starting Wed at the latest.

Some oil got stirred up from somewhere in the local harbor and today we heard there was an oiled cormorant on the breakwater about 4 blocks from here where some sea lions hang out. We are in the backside of a small fishing village and the ladies at the local school provide us with lunch every day so we walk or drive there to eat. Anyway, Valeria and I were going to lunch and went to check out the cormorant and within a half an hour I captured 3 very oiled cormorants and had a few close encounters with the sea lions. Another cormorant swam away but one of the local guys caught it later. So, we now have 4 new oiled cormorants. The good thing is that they are very healthy and we will probably be able to wash them on Wednesday and get them through the system quickly. It is disturbing as there is oil all over the rocks and beaches and they stopped clean up. All the locals are very unhappy.

We also got an oiled South American Tern in that is missing feathers on one wing and will go to Patagonia Natural’s rehab program in Punta Tumbo until it gets it molts and gets new feathers.

There was mui dramatico incident yesterday as Valeria would call it. Some of the fisherman staged a demonstration that they call a manifestation and blocked our road and the main road a few killometers from here. They burnt tires and were loud but peaceful to us. They let us through after the locals told them to not bother the volunteers and all the various bird rehab people like us so we all left at the same time and they passed us through the road block. That was good. Once again they were saying that the penguins are more important than them, etc. and they were making a point to the local government. They made the front page of the local paper but were gone today.

That is really about it for now. I have been sending pictures for the web site and you can see them there. We explained to everyone here that we have 10 days left for us to get the small birds released and get the penguins started on their release and then leave the remaining penguins in the capable hands of the people from Patagonia Natural and the guys from Cabo Vergines, where we worked last year. They will take charge of seeing the remaining penguins out the door.

Adios,
Jay

See IBRRC website

January 15, 2008

Seagulls as biomonitors for oil spill pollution

What are the long term affects to marine environments after oil spills? Scientists from Spain hope that the blood of Yellow-legged gulls will give them a better picture.

Researchers measured the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) levels in the gulls exposed to oil during the aftermath of the 2002 Prestige oil spill off the coast of Spain, one of Europe’s largest such disasters. The PAH levels they found were twice that of unexposed birds – even though the exposed birds were tested more than 17 months after the spill.

While PAH compounds have also been linked to cancer in humans, experts are zeroing in on gulls to see what happens long term to marine animals. The work focused on the ecological

Alberto Velando, a researcher at the Universidade de Vigo in Spain, and his team detailed their findings in the upcoming issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study is called “Monitoring Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Pollution in Marine Environment after the Prestige Oil Spill by Means of Seabird Blood Analysis.”

Read more about the study at Science Daily

November 17, 2007

Washing birds of oil: Almost there

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

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

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

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

Fast forward to the wash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 14, 2007

When humans don’t help: Dog walkers

Notes from field:

One of the big problems we’re seeing in this tragic oil spill in San Francisco Bay is the HUMAN element. Many of our wildlife rescue members have reported running into many people ignoring “closed beach” signs. These thoughtless folks continue to run and walk dogs (on and off leash) along stretches that should be off limits.

Oiled birds are super STRESSED, cold and often starving. The last thing they need is the extra visual stimuli that comes from joggers and dog walkers. They view any intruder into their space as predators and will use the last bit of energy to escape back into the water.

At Pt. Richmond, numerous dog walkers continue to have dogs off leash in sensitive areas. In one account, a dog owner had his dog swimming in the bay and managed to scare off at least 50 oiled birds. This careless act kept birds in need of care out reach of wildlife rescue personnel.

We had another report from a crew member who was shocked beyond belief. He watched as a dog owner ran his big dogs on an oil covered beach near Golden Gate Fields in Albany. The owner then pulled out a ball and began throwing it into the oily bay for the dogs to fetch. When asked to keep dogs off the beach, the owner responded in a very unpleasant fashion.

Please! For the sake of these oiled animals and others, keep your dogs away from sensitive areas on the bay and beaches. LEASH YOUR DOGS at all times around the affected areas, including jetties, boat docks and low tide areas.

Let our crews capture these frightened birds before they succumb to hyperthermia and eventual death.

November 11, 2007

Birds always come first


From Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director:

Many of you are asking, “What can I do to help during the oils spill and beyond?” We hope you will read this and that it will help answer some of your questions. We have a very small staff and we are attending to our patients, so the phone at our clinic may go unanswered. At IBRRC, the birds come first.

Here is some concise information about what is going on behind the scenes:

The spill is managed by the California Department of Fish & Game’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN). href=”http://www.ibrrc.org” target=”_blank”>IBRRC, a key participating member of the OWCN, manages the two large regional oiled bird rehabilitation centers in the state based in Cordelia, The San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care Center and San Pedro, The Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center.

State and Federal Park wardens and employees are also assisting in the effort. Members of IBRRC’s oil spill response team are a key part of OWCN’s efforts to rescue and care of oil spill victims. Our response team includes wildlife rescue professionals who have trained and responded throughout the world.

As of Thursday evening, November 15th, 951 live birds are in care at The San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care Center in Cordelia. Members of our team are working extremely hard to find and save as many avian victims as humanely possible. We’ve been able to wash nearly 400 birds of oil.

Although it is heartbreaking to have an oil spill happen in our own backyard, there is one good factor and that is that animals affected by this spill, including marine mammals, are being cared for by people who are the leading experts in the field of oiled wildlife rehabilitation. We are passionate and dedicated to helping aquatic birds and waterfowl. It’s what we do and if you can’t do the work, then support the people who do. That’s really what matters.

Oiled birds are covered in a thick heavy petroleum substance. They are hypothermic. They beach themselves because they are cold Water birds stay warm because their feathers act as insulation. When oil gets on their feathers and sticks to their body, it is like a rip in a diver’s wetsuit. They attempt to preen the oil off instead of feeding and eventually they become cold (hypothermic) and attempt to get out of the water. Some birds cannot walk on land due to the placement of their legs. Rescuers are viewed as predators, so the birds become even more stressed when rescue attempts are made. The oil may also cause skin and eye irritation.

It’s been documented that even a small spot of oil on the bird’s feathers can kill a seabird. Please read: How oil affects birds.

The first thing wildlife professionals do is warm the birds and give them fluids because they are assumed dehydrated, and keep them in a dark quiet box that has ventilation. Here’s our procedures in detail. Here’s our procedures in detail.

When they are stable enough for transport, they are driven to IBRRC which is located in the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center at 4369 Cordelia Road in Cordelia, CA.

Upon intake, the birds undergo specific procedures required for oil spill victims, including being numbered and photographed. Blood work is done to determine their internal condition. They are weighed, tube fed fluids and put into warm boxes in an area separate from non-oiled birds.

The birds are not washed until they meet specific criteria established for spill victims of their species. This includes determination through blood work, weight and observation of the bird’s behavior to determine if the bird is strong enough to endure washing, a stressful experience that can take up to half an hour. Read Frequently Asked Questions

Birds are washed with Dawn dishwashing liquid using special nozzles, toothbrushes and Waterpiks. Dawn is used because it works the best and fastest removing oil from feathers while being safe for the birds and people washing them. Proctor and Gamble the makers of Dawn donate many of their products to IBRRC and have for many years. See story

After rinsing, they are placed in quiet covered boxes with warm air dryers. They begin to preen their feathers back into place and rest. They are checked continually to make sure all the oil has been removed. They then go into warm water therapy pools to continue preening and realigning their feathers. When deemed strong and waterproof, they will be placed in the cold water pools to self feed and rehabilitate. When release criteria are met, they are banded and released into non-spill affected areas.

This labor of love is backbreaking work, but we love what we do. If you want to help us here are some things you can do now:

DONATE YOUR TIME: There is nothing more valuable than your time. Please fill out our online volunteer application. If you have special skills please note them. If we need you, we will call you. Be patient, we have a large number of volunteers helping already, but we may need more. This depends on how long the spill lasts and the number of birds we get in.

DONATE MONEY:Consider contributing as an annual donor to a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation organizations like The International Bird Rescue Research Center, IBRRC. For a full list of participating members of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, OWCN,, go to the OWCN website list. See also the full list of wildlife rehabilitation organizations that help all of California’s wildlife, you can find it on the website for California Council for Wildlife Rehabilitators (CCWR).

DONATE ITEMS: We often need supplies, towels, tools, services and labor. Please fill out what you can provide on the volunteer form. If you’re a massage therapist or you’re good at organizing coffee and food donations or you have other practical skills to help the army of volunteers get through this spill, please offer to help.

WINGS ON WHEELS and other IBRRC ongoing efforts to care for California’s wildlife: :
We are desperate for help in this program! Please visit our webpage and determine if you can help transport birds from other centers to our center in Cordelia. Driver’s needed

On behalf of our staff, the hundreds of volunteers helping during this spill, thank you!

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

[Editor’s note: Jay Holcomb has 35 years of oil spill experience and leads bird rescue’s highly experienced wildlife responders.]

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network is a legislatively mandated program within The California Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) which strives to ensure that wildlife exposed to petroleum products in the environment receive the best achievable treatment by providing access to permanent wildlife rehabilitation facilities and trained personnel for oil spill response within California. California’s two key centers, located in Cordelia and San Pedro, California are managed by International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) under the direction of Jay Holcomb. The OWCN is managed statewide by the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, a unit of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine under the direction of Dr. Mike Ziccardi.