Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘Southern California’

March 7, 2011

Natural Seep Oiled Birds Continue to Flood IBRRC

At the end of January, International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) reported that nearly 50 oiled birds had been brought in for care after being coated with oil in a natural seep event along the Southern California coast. Since then, more than 64 new birds severely impacted by this heavy, sticky oil have arrived in our Los Angeles area rehabilitation clinic – 41 of them since February 22.

Species include many Western and Clark’s Grebes, Common Murres, Pacific Loons, California Gulls, Western Gulls, Red-throated Loons, a Northern Fulmar and a Common Loon.

Oil seeps occur naturally all along the coast of California, notably in the Santa Barbara Channel near Coal Oil Point. This area emits about 5,280 to 6,600 gallons of oil per day. Oil can be lethally harmful to seabirds—particularly to diving birds that spend a great deal of time on the surface of the water where the oil sits. It interferes with the birds’ ability to maintain their body temperature by impairing the natural insulation and waterproofing properties of their feathers, which can result in hypothermia, as their metabolisms try to combat the cold. Oiled birds often beach themselves in this weakened state, and become easy prey for other animals.

Preparing for Natural Seep Oiled Birds

IBRRC knows, from 40 years of experience, to anticipate these birds every year, with the largest number coming in during the winter months. This year, however, has been a particularly challenging one, as severe storms move seep oil around at a time when large numbers of migratory birds are utilizing offshore areas as their feeding grounds.

Who pays for their care?

In the case of a natural event, there is no responsible party to cover the costs of caring for oiled wildlife, and IBRRC and other rehabilitation organizations rely heavily on the public’s help. California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) has generously provided some funding, yet the remaining costs to treat and care for these birds continues to grow as more oil disperses along the coast.

Please consider making a donation today. Every bird matters, and so does every gift.

January 25, 2011

Natural Oil Seep Prompts Bird Rescue in Calif.

Nearly 50 oiled birds have been in care this month at International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) after being coated with oil in a natural seep event along the Southern California coast.

Since January 6, 2011, IBRRC has received 28 Western Grebes, 18 Common Murres, a Common Loon, a Pacific Loon and a Clark’s Grebe.

IBRRC receives many birds that are contaminated with natural seep oil in our rehabilitation clinics year round. Birds are often severely impacted by this heavy, sticky oil, and it presents numerous challenges to our rehabilitation staff.

Oil seeps occur naturally all along the coast of California, notably in the Santa Barbara Channel near Coal Oil Point. This area emits about 5,280 to 6,600 gallons of oil per day. Natural seeps have been active for hundreds to thousands of years and have been documented by early explorers and by coast-dwelling Chumash Indians who used the oil in many ways including waterproofing baskets and constructing wooden canoes.

Impact to Birds

Oil can be lethally harmful to seabirds—particularly to diving birds that spend a great deal of time on the surface of the water where the oil sits. It interferes with the birds’ ability to maintain their body temperature by impairing the natural insulation and waterproofing properties of their feathers, which can result in loss of body weight, as their metabolisms try to combat the cold, and death from hypothermia. Oiled birds often beach themselves in this weakened state, and consequently become easy prey for other animals.

Preparing for Natural Seep Oiled Birds

Each bird that is impacted by natural seep oil is part of a larger population, but we know that every one is important in its own right and deserves the best possible care. We also know, from 40 years of experience, to anticipate these birds every year, with the largest number of birds coming in during the winter months. At this time of year, storms tend to move seep oil around while large numbers of migratory birds are utilizing offshore areas as their feeding grounds. Since their arrival at our rehabilitation clinics is predictable, we have endeavored to schedule our international interns around the birds’ arrival so that our trainees can be immersed in the complexities of oiled bird rehabilitation. The interns get invaluable, one-of-a-kind experience and the birds get the highest quality care.

Who pays for their care?

IBRRC has received natural seep oiled birds since our inception in 1971. As this is considered a “natural” event, with no responsible party, IBRRC and other wildlife rehabilitation organizations rely on the public to help cover the costs of caring for these birds. In recent years California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) has generously provided some funding, however, the remaining cost is substantial in stormy years like this one when more natural seep oil is dispersed along the coast.

January 4, 2009

They don’t come with credit cards: Birds in need

Aquatic bird specialists, International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) is noticing a trend in California Brown Pelicans along the coastline from Monterey to San Diego and they need your help.

An unusual number of birds are coming in thin and disoriented – being found on roads and in fields. What is remarkable is that many are adult pelicans. Often this behavior is associated with domoic acid from a marine algae but so far the birds exhibit no other typical neurological disorders. The center now has 40 in care; ten pelicans came in in the last few days.

IBRRC is asking for your help in reporting ailing pelicans to your local rescue organization or by calling the toll-free California Wildlife Hotline 866-WILD-911. You are encouraged to leave information on dead pelicans there as well by pressing option 2.

How to help

Both of IBRRC’s facilities are in need of assistance in transporting pelicans from other centers and with the care of the high number of birds in treatment. There’s dire need for funds to offset the cost of caring for these huge birds – their adopt a pelican program is a unique way to help while being personally involved in a pelican’s care and release. Adopt-a-pelican

To help, please send inquiries to info@ibrrc.org or call the Fairfield facility at (707) 207-0380 Ext 110 or the San Pedro center at (310) 514-2573.

Kudos to the Daily Breeze newspaper in Southern California for the pelican story Swooping in for birds in need: Pelicans overload rescue center in San Pedro. The article captures perfectly the increase in sick and hungry brown pelicans coming into the San Pedro bird center.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director was quoted in the article:

“We don’t usually get that many that come in at this time of year. We’ve been getting them regularly, and we’ve been concerned about it,” Holcomb said. “They’re expensive animals – they eat tons of fish and require a lot of medicine. We’ll never shut the door to them, but they don’t come in with credit cards.”

More Adopt a bird info and Donate online info.

February 3, 2008

Frigatebird to be released in Southern California

The wayward Magnificent Frigatebird that was spotted in a tree in Healdsburg, CA after being blown off course by relentless storms in January, will be released back into the wild in Southern California early this week. The male juvenile Frigatebird is in route this weekend to be set free Monday or Tuesday on the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast.

This large tropical bird which is rarely seen in Northern California has spent nearly a month at IBRRC’s Cordelia bird center gaining weight and getting some much needed R & R. It arrived at the center 400 grams underweight and below its core temperature, in critical condition. Today it is 1150 grams, strong and in good health.

This was only the second Frigatebird treated by IBRRC in its 37 year history. Frigatebirds, who are also know as “pirate birds,” usually live in warmer climates such as the Galapagos Islands area. The bird was found along the Russian River in Healdsburg on January 4, 2008 by locals, John and Dana Naber.

Several organizations and individuals participated in different phases including ID, rescue and a month long rehabilitation effort. Many thanks to all the helped along the way!

Recent stories:

San Francisco Chronicle

See the video report

IBRRC’s website page on the Magnificent Frigatebird