Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘sick’

May 10, 2018

Sudden Surge of Sick and Dying Brown Pelicans along the Coast of California

June 13, 2018 update: 80 young Brown Pelicans have come into our two California wildlife centers.

Concern for Brown Pelicans that live along the coast of Southern California has been mounting as the reported number of sick and dying birds suddenly increased over the past week. Some of these cases, such as the two pelicans that crash-landed in the middle of a Pepperdine University graduation ceremony, have garnered media attention. Many more sick birds have been found grounded on LAX airport runways, on city streets, and in people’s yards.

More than 30 pelicans have been brought to International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles wildlife center in San Pedro. The numbers have doubled in just a few days. The Brown Pelicans admitted show signs of emaciation, hypothermia, and anemia.

After being stabilized and fed, rescued Brown Pelicans recuperate in the flight aviary at Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center. Photo by Angie Trumbo–International Bird Rescue

While it is not unusual to see an uptick in hospitalized pelicans at this time of year, those birds are usually new fledglings coming to shore, hungry. The current situation is of particular concern because the birds affected are older, primarily in their second year.

“It’s normal for us to receive young pelicans who have just recently fledged their nests,” says Kylie Clatterbuck, Wildlife Center Manager, “however, what is unusual is that we are seeing many second year pelicans coming into care.”

The last large-scale problem with young Brown Pelicans occurred in 2012. During that year alone, Bird Rescue had 952 of mostly young birds came into care between its two California wildlife centers. Of those, over 600 affected pelicans were treated at the Los Angeles center.

Bird Rescue is asking for the public’s help in caring for these Brown Pelicans in need. Donations can be made online at www.birdrescue.org or mailed to the center directly (address below). We encourage anyone who spots a sick pelican to call their local animal control or contact us directly at 310-514-2573.

International Bird Rescue – Los Angeles Wildlife Center
3601 South Gaffey Street
San Pedro, California 90731

Devin Hanson, Bird Rescue Rehabilitation Technician at the Los Angeles Wildlife Center, exams young hungry and anemic Brown Pelican. Photo by Angie Trumbo–International Bird Rescue

 

Hungry Brown Pelicans outside in the pelican flight aviary at the Los Angeles Wildlife Center gobble down fish. Photo by Angie Trumbo–International Bird Rescue

At the San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center, almost 30 Brown Pelicans are in care for emaciation during pelican crash event. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds–International Bird Rescue

May 1, 2009

Update: Brandt’s Cormorant deaths in Bay Area

Beginning in mid-April, natural resource agencies began receiving reports of dead and dying cormorants (and occasionally other coastal birds) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dozens of dead Brandt’s Cormorants were found at a nesting colony on Alcatraz Island, and more that 100 have since been reported or recovered on the coast from Marin County south to Monterey County.

In addition, dozens of live sick cormorants have been recovered by local wildlife rehabilitation centers, including OWCN member organizations WildCare and International Bird Rescue Research Center. More than 25 injured live cormorants have been delivered to the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care & Education Center, where staff and volunteers from IBRRC and the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center are providing care to these birds. According to the IBRRC Blog, Exec. Director Jay Holcomb describes the birds in care as “…adults in beautiful breeding plumage…in a weakened state but respond(ing) well to a treatment of fluid therapy and lots of fish”.

The California Department of Fish and Game Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz is conducting post-mortem exams and taking the lead on investigating potential causes of the unusual mortality event, with assistance from a number of organizations (including the OWCN and the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center). The dead birds found thus far are extremely emaciated, and showing no signs consistent with environmental contamination or infectious disease. However, samples are currently being checked for Newcastle Disease, Avian Influenza, West Nile Virus, and Domoic Acid toxicosis. There is no concern that these birds are carrying the recent H1N1 Influenza A (so-called “swine flu”) virus.

Cormorants feed on small fish that they capture by diving from the surface of the water. If the birds are starving due to lack of prey, it is not currently known what might have caused this abrupt change in prey availability, although the die-off began during a period of unusually strong northwest winds.

[Note: A Brandt’s Comorant is characterized by blue eyes. Double-crested Cormorants have green eyes.]

There is no need to report dead birds to wildlife agencies and the public is asked to leave dead birds where they are found. Regular surveys are being conducted by volunteer monitoring programs established by the Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries to document the number and location of dead birds. If very large concentrations of dead birds are found, they can be reported to the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center at (831) 469-1745.

Live birds in distress can be reported to local animal control or wildlife rehabilitation groups (contact info for local OWCN member organizations may be found here). If wildlife that may be oiled or otherwise contaminated is found, this information can be reported to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at 1-877-UCD-OWCN.

More information on Brandt’s Cormorants may be found on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site.

(Information from DFG-OSPR News Release and IBRRC Blog)

– by Mike Ziccardi, OWCN Director from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network Blog

News reports:

Hundreds of dead birds on Bay Area beaches: San Francisco Chronicle

January 15, 2009

Pelican crisis: "It will take some detective work"

In 35 years of studying pelicans, Dan Anderson, an avian specialist at UC Davis, says “it will take some detective work” to find out why scores of pelicans are showing thin, disoriented or even dead (photo, right) from Oregon to Baja California.

In a story from the Chicago Sun-Times, Anderson, says he’s only seen this kind if event “once or twice” in his professional life.

Others are feeling the same way: “We’ve seen enough to imply that something is odd, and right now it is a big question mark what it is,” said Jay Holcomb, Executive Director of IBRRC said in the same media report.

So far, many theories have surfaced about what might be happening. It could be a toxin, such as fire retardant, running off the land from recent fires. Or the domoic acid, a nuero-toxin that causes brain damage. Or even the cold weather that hit the Pacific Northwest in December that triggered another disease. Maybe all three contributed to this confluence of events.

Note: Recent tests of six pelicans did show levels of domoic acid in three of the birds. Read the press release

Since mid-December, IBRRC has taken in 160 pelicans for treatment in two California bird centers. IBRRC has also reported at least 300 dead brown pelicans in this same time period.

They been found in the oddest places: freeways, backyards and in store parking lots. We even had one report of one found at 7200 feet in New Mexico. They are disoriented, malnourished and badly in need of care. [ Note: Photo, right, from Albertson’s parking lot in Southern California – Photo courtesy: Peter Wallerstein/Marine Animal Rescue ]

In meantime, if you see a pelican in need, please call this toll free number: 866-WILD-911. You can submit unusual photos of pelican sighting to webcoot@ibrrc.org)

How to help the pelicans:

Adopt-a-Pelican

Donate online

Sign-up to volunteer your time

Shop at Ralphs Grocery Store? Sign-up your card to help

August 2, 2008

Starving young pelican numbers grow: Help!

The number of young pelicans sick and starving arriving at IBRRC’s two bird centers continues to grow.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s executive director, has issued a plea to the public for help in treating these birds. The fish bill alone is at least $750 a day between the two centers. You can help by adopting a pelican or becoming a pelican partner to assist us in our long-term support for these endangered animals. Read his urgent appeal

More than 150 pelicans have been delivered to the Cordelia/Fairfield and San Pedro Centers in the past six weeks. Dedicated staff and the wonderful volunteers at both centers continue to assist these wonderful birds.

Most of the birds are weak due to lack of food and some have more serious injuries, according to Holcomb. He says it’s not uncommon for the centers to treat ailing pelicans during the summer months. This year the numbers are definitely up and partly this can be attributed a successful nesting season for pelicans in the Channel Islands.

Some good news

The good news today is that some of the earlier arrivals have been stabilized with fish and TLC and are being released. Six California Brown Pelicans were turned back to the wild Saturday afternoon at Fort Baker’s Horseshoe Cove in Sausalito.

Media reports:

Influx of rescued pelicans in California: ABC News

Pelicans nursed back to health: Vacaville Reporter

Pelicans released back to the wild: The Daily Breeze photos

July 25, 2008

Sick and hungry pelicans flooding bird centers

It’s another busy summer season for the staff and volunteers at Bird Rescue as sick and starving young pelicans arrive for treatment at both California centers. Since June nearly 100 pelicans have been transferred to the bird rescue centers – one in San Pedro and the other in Fairfield, CA – to be given the best possible care.

Starting in May 2008 an overwhelming number of pelicans competed with fishermen for large quantities of schooling fish in Northern California – especially in the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay areas. We began receiving an extraordinary influx of pelicans with entanglement, fish hook and tackle injuries. We were receiving 10-12 birds a day until California Fish and Game stepped in to close the local piers to fishing.

The influx of pelicans was taxing our centers, as the San Pedro facility was also receiving unusually large
numbers of pelicans in their clinic. Our fish bill alone climbed to nearly $40,000. To help defray the cost of caring for the pelicans, Bird Rescue is asking for the public’s help. Donate

You can also become a Pelican Partner. With a donation of $1,000, you will have the chance to tour one of our California wildlife centers and help to release one of our patients back into the wild. This experience offers supporters a special opportunity to see a seabird getting its final medical exam and numbered leg band, and the once-in-a-lifetime honor of opening the cage at the release site as your partner pelican takes its first steps into the open and soars away.


Luckily this year Bird Rescue completed construction of a new 100-foot pelican aviary at its Fairfield, CA bird center. The aviary allows pelicans to recuperate in large comfortable setting. It has two large pools and perches for the birds to fly back and forth to stretch their wings. The aviary was completed with funds from the Green Foundation and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN). The San Pedro center has had a pelican aviary since it opened in 2001.

How to help: Adopt-a-Pelican

More information on Pelicans in Peril

Found a bird? How to handle a sick or injured pelican or other aquatic birds.

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.

November 30, 2007

Monterey Bay algae bloom sickens 613 birds

Just as the San Francisco Bay spill response winds down, IBRRC is now busy again treating hundreds of oiled and sick birds washing ashore in Monterey Bay affected by an odd oily substance.

About 613 birds have been rescued and at least 300 are being treated at the Cordelia bird center. The incident seems be caused by a naturally occurring red tide or algae bloom in the bay waters from Marina Beach north to Santa Cruz.


Rescue crews search for oiled birds along Monterey Bay
(Video: © Rebecca Dmytryk Titus)

Dead and sick surf scoters, fulmars, grebes, loons and other near-shore birds began appearing on Monterey Bay beaches on Nov. 10. A second die-off hit again on November 24. The birds were initially brought to Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz and also transported to the IBRRC/OWCN’s San Pedro bird center. Now the OWCN center in Solano County is taking all new birds rescued in the spill.

The mysterious oily substance on birds was first thought to be a man-made spill. However, Dave Jessup, a California State Fish and Game senior veterinarian, says birds that turned up sick or dead weren’t killed by the San Francisco Bay oil spill or aerial spraying to eradicate the light brown apple moth.

“At this point we believe it’s related to the algae blooms,” Jessup said.

Red tide is a catchall phrase describing seawater with microscopic organisms that blooms causing it to change colors. What causes this is open to speculation: It could be weather pattern changes, fertilizer runoff after a hard rain, or a higher exposure to sunlight.

The part of the bloom sickening seabirds is a a water-soluble protein called a “surfactant.” It foams when it comes in contact with water, but state officials are still trying to determine the protein’s source.

Because the seabirds were not sickened by an oil spill or other human-caused incident, the Department of Fish and Game halted its bird rescue efforts November 27. Later this week on November 29, Fish and Game reactivated the spill response. Members of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), veterinarians from UC Davis and IBRRC’s experienced wildlife rehabilitation staff are now working on the spill.

The spill was dubbed the “Moss Landing Mystery Spill” because a large number of birds first beached themselves near Moss Landing Harbor in Monterey Bay.

As a non-profit, IBRRC is asking for public donations to offset the high cost of treating these birds. Donate Now

More info:

IBRRC website

About the IBRRC/OWCN partnership:

The International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) plays two major roles within the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN). First, IBRRC acts as the lead oiled bird response organization that, under the management of the OWCN, responds to most of the oil spills that affect birds, reptiles and fresh water aquatic mammals in California. Secondly, IBRRC is contracted to develop and teach a series of annual trainings for OWCN participants. These trainings are designed to familiarize members with concepts in oiled wildlife capture and rehabilitation.

Media reports:

San Francisco Chronicle

Santa Cruz Sentinel

KION 46-TV Video report

Monterey Herald, Registration required