Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘response’

April 30, 2010

Response team: On the ground in the gulf

The IBRRC Team arrived in Louisiana today. Our team is working in partnership with Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research. Our organizations have a long history of working together on oil spills.

Together, our team has begun setting up a rehabilitation facility in a warehouse in Fort Jackson, LA just north of Venice about 70 miles from New Orleans.

There has only been one oiled bird recovered so far, a young Northern Gannet, which is being treated at the Fort Jackson rescue center. The bird was covered in thick, black oil and found offshore.

Another center is being set-up in Theodore, Alabama and staff from Tri-State Bird Rescue and International Bird Rescue are there beginning to set things up.

There are existing oiled bird treatment trailers in the area that were funded by Clean Gulf and Chevron so these are also being set-up to assist with stabilization of animals if necessary.

As of right now our teams are very much focused on preparing these facilities.

There is still not a great need for volunteers at this time as there is only one bird in care. Remember, if you are interested in volunteering you must call the Volunteer hotline at 1 866-448-5816.

And a big thank you to our partner, Procter & Gamble Co, who is sending 50 cases of Dawn dishwashing liquid to both centers. Dawn has supported us for more than 20 years on efforts to save aquatic birds worldwide.

– Jay Holcomb, IBRRC Executive Director

Also see:

Times-Picayune: Updates on BP Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster

January 25, 2010

Responding to Huntington Beach Channel Spill

An IBRRC spill response team is working on a small oil spill in Huntington Beach, CA. The two member team is joining another team from the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center as part of the California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN).

So far, three birds have been rescued: A Lesser Scaup, Pied-Billed Grebe and American Coot. News report

More details to come

February 20, 2009

Looking for new oil spill response team members

Through a generous grant from the San Francisco Foundation Cosco Busan Oil Spill Fund, IBRRC is now recruiting new members to train for its renowned oil spill response team. The training and workshops will be provided by us at the Northern California headquarters in Cordelia. The first in a series of classes will be taking place at the end of March. Applications are being accepted through March 15th.

This is a unique opportunity to join IBRRC’s esteemed corps of wildlife professionals who have helped earn them global recognition as the ‘gold standard’ in oiled wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. Those interested are asked to first review the requirements for participation, available on IBRRC’s website, before applying. See: Oil Spill response Team Training Program

E-mail us for more info: recruitment@ibrrc.org

December 9, 2008

IBRRC activated in Santa Barbara oil leak

Three members of IBRRC’s oil response team have been dispatched to a small oil leak off the coast of Santa Barbara. At least 1,134 gallons (27 barrels) were reportedly spilled on Sunday, December 7, 2008.

No oiled birds have been found. On Tuesday team leaders from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) will help coordinate the search for possible oiled animals.

A total of 882 gallons that spilled has been recovered. The spill is near Platform A in the Santa Barbara Channel about six miles offshore of Summerland. The company operating the platform, DCOR LLC, reported the spill Sunday morning when workers noticed an oily sheen around the platform. See map below.

Platform A was the site of the massive January 29, 1969 oil spill. For eleven days, 3 million gallons of crude spewed out of the well, oil workers struggled to cap the rupture. Blown by winds and swells the oil created a 800 square mile slick. See history of spill

Following the 1969 spill, Earth Day was born nationwide. Many people consider the oil spill a major impetus to the modern environmental movement.

News reports:

Los Angeles Times

KSBY-TV

Santa Barbara Indepedent


View Larger Map

July 5, 2008

Uruguay oil spill affects migrating penguins

A recent oil spill in Uruguay is making it tough on migrating penguins and other birds along the coast of this South American country located between Argentina and Brazil. Magellanic Penguins are the most affected by the spill that occurred when two ships collided about 12 miles (20 km) from the port of Montevideo, Uruguay on June 3, 2008.

A joint IFAW/IBRRC Emergency Response Team is on-site and working with other area wildlife rescue groups to help with the logistics and treatment of the oiled birds. A swimming pool at a Punta Del Este beach-side waterpark is being used to help the penguins recuperate.

A total of 139 birds are in house and being cleaned and reconditioned for release back into the wild. This includes three great grebes, 135 Magellanic penguins and one giant petrel.

According to an IFAW report, the ER team has had great successes this week as they have been able to clean all the birds that were healthy enough to go through the stressful cleaning process. A good majority of the penguins are clean and in waterproofing pools, reconditioning for release. One of the major problems for these birds has been that they’ve come in to care in such debilitated conditions and most are extremely under weight. Oiled birds often become obsessed with preening their feathers to try to remove the oil and ignore feeding or they become so hypothermic, due to the oil disrupting their waterproofing ability, that they beach themselves and then don’t eat or drink. Medically stabilizing these birds is a big part of what our team does so successfully and this is evidenced by so many of these birds being healthy enough to go through the cleaning process already. At this time, there are 101 clean birds and only 29 that are still underweight or anemic and are being given supportive care until they are healthy enough for cleaning and reconditioning. Two great grebes that were oiled have been cleaned, reconditioned and were released this week! The team is tentatively planning a release of the first penguins for next Wednesday, July 9.

The oiled birds swam through the spill when the Greece registered ship, the Syros and the Sea Bird, a vessel registered in Malta, collided near Montevideo. The collision produced a 12 mile long oil spill near the Rio de la Plata river.


View Larger Map

November 22, 2007

1,053 birds arrived live; 767 washed

New bird care numbers for the SF spill, now more than two weeks old, have been posted:

Birds arrived live: 1,053
Washed: 767
Died/euthanized: 472
Released: 122
Found dead in field: 1,544

Bird numbers also updated daily on this blog’s right hand column.

If you do find an oiled bird, please call (415) 701-2311.

OWCN numbers updated: 11/21/07 @ 8:00 PM

November 17, 2007

Birds don’t get a break this month

They say things come in threes and this month it’s proving catastrophically true for oiled birds worldwide.

On the heels of the San Francisco Bay spill, this week a major spill hit the Black Sea area of Russia. Up to 30,000 birds are reported to be dead after an oil tanker leaked 560,000 gallons of oil into the sea. The tanker broke in half after encountering stormy seas. CNN Video Report

Two team members from our joint IBRRC/IFAW Emergency Response team are already on their way to help. See the IBRRC report

Closer to home, a spill of suspicious origins along Santa Cruz County beaches is causing concern. Dubbed the “Moss Landing Mystery Spill,” this spill has left nearly 100 birds tainted with a clear oily substance of unknown origins.

IBRRC’s San Pedro Bird Center was activated to handle the first wave of oiled birds. Since then the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz has also started treating birds. See IBRRC update

November 14, 2007

Being grateful for what we have in California

From Jay Holcomb, International Bird Rescue’s Executive Director:

I am resting for a minute so I thought I would write a very short update for the blog. First, thank you all for your well wishes and support. We are so grateful to the people who have contributed their time or money to this effort and to IBRRC’s other programs.

New Video report by Contra Costa Times

Secondly, although this is another horrible oil spill impacting the birds we all love to see in our wonderful bay, I want to say to you that we have something unique in this state that no one else has and that we should all be grateful for. I am and maybe that is because I have been through the horror of trying to care for oiled birds in funky disgusting old buildings that were called “emergency bird treatment facilities”. They never worked!

Since 1990 we now have a state mandated program, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, OWCN, that allows us to provide the “best achievable care” for oiled birds in Califonia. IBRRC is a member participant of the OWCN and we manage two large oiled birds facilities in the state for the network. The center we are working in during this spill is our headquarters based in Cordelia, CA. The other facility is in San Pedro, CA, near Long Beach. We love both facilities and after years of working out of warehouses and horrible make-shift emergency centers that very much limited our ability to care for oiled birds, a day does not go by that I am not grateful for what we have in this state.

IBRRC was one of the first groups in the world to even try to rehabilitate oiled birds way back in 1971 when two oil tankers collided in the fog in San Francisco Bay. And now we’re veterans of over 200 oil spills. Can you believe it?

It is hard to imagine we have been all over the world and managed the oiled bird rescue and rehabilitation programs at the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Treasure oil spill in Cape Town, South Africa where the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and IBRRC jointly worked with local groups to save over 21,000 oiled penguins. Yes, 21,000 penguins and we had remarkable 95% release rate in that spill.

But no where else in all these spills and all these countries do they have a program that coordinates concerned and trained people like our response team and builds and helps maintain state of the art oiled bird rehabilitation facilities. It is only here in California that this is ready and available for use in these tragic spills.

So even though we are ALL fed up with politics and bureaucracy, I just want to point out that at least we have this great program for the birds that live or fly through our state.

That is if for now. We are posting pictures so that you can see the birds we are caring for and we will keep people updated as this spill progresses.

Thanks again for all your support,

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC

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.

November 10, 2007

Sea of good will

From all over California the offers to help keep rolling in:

“If this is as big as they say, every person in the Bay Area that wants to help, should be used to help. Please give the Bay Area community the opportunity & instructions to help resolve this disaster in our own backyard. I have 2 good hands, 2 good feet & 2 days off work. Please don’t let that go to waste…” – J.C.

“If there is anything I can do to help with this horrendous tragedy, please contact me, thank you.” – L.B.

“I live in Santa Barbara and I am willing to travel to the Bay Area to volunteer, or to bring supplies from San Pedro to San Francisco.” – E.C.

“I’m available this week and maybe longer to help with the current oil spill. I understand that you might not be ready to accept volunteers. If so, just ignore this message. I’ll keep on checking the website. Thanks for your work.” – C.C.

“…Please find a use for me!” – T.O.

“I have no training, but am willing to learn, I am 55 years old with free time, thank you.” – G.H.

“Hello, I read through your web site and realized they are not many opportunities to help without training. However if there are any ways I can help with my time, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I take directions well and am a true nature and animal lover. I’d rather do something than feel powerless…” – C.P.

Note: I gathered some of these comments from hundreds of volunteer application submissions off IBRRC’s website. We’ve forwarded all these offers of help to the state’s volunteer coordinator. The OWCN site gives more updated info.

Please know, your good words and deeds will somehow be utilized. Thank you!