Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

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January 6, 2011

New year, new roles for IBRRC leaders

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! As we usher in 2011, International Bird Rescue Research Center is looking forward to a number of very exciting changes that will allow us to continue growing our bird rehabilitation, research and education programs. Our 40th anniversary is coming up in April, and we have many accomplishments to celebrate, thanks to your ongoing support. But there is always more we can do, and to that end, after over 25 years at the helm of IBRRC, I am moving into a new role as Director Emeritus, where I can devote my time more fully to building our bird rescue and rehabilitation programs, while Paul Kelway (photo, on the left) takes over as Executive Director.

Paul has been working with IBRRC since he and I met at an oil spill in France at the beginning of 2000. He worked for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as their ER Manager for Oiled Wildlife for a number of years before actually joining the IBRRC staff in October 2009. He will be leading the organization through an exciting evolution, as we prepare for another 40 years making a difference to the lives of aquatic birds. After 25 years on the front lines of oil spills, algal blooms, and weird weather events, I know the need for dedicated and professional bird rescue is as great as ever, and I look forward to working closely with Paul, and all of you, to meet that need and ensure every single bird we treat has the best possible care.

We’ve come a long way in 40 years. We have responded to over 200 oil spills and cared for tens of thousands of birds that needed help. I know that together we can do even more going forward!


Jay Holcomb, Director Emeritus
International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC)

A note from Paul Kelway, IBRRC’s new executive director

Dear Friends of IBRRC,

I am humbled and honored to have been asked by Jay and the IBRRC Board to follow in both his and our founder Alice Berkener’s footsteps as Executive Director of International Bird Rescue Research Center and certainly hope to do all I can to build on the organization’s tremendous achievements to date. I am also delighted that Jay will continue to serve the organization as Director Emeritus where his vast experience and expertise can continue to benefit the lives of aquatic birds as we work together to keep building IBRRC’s rescue and rehabilitation capabilities.

We’ve had a whirlwind 2010, from storm-battered pelicans to the unprecedented Deepwater Horizon oil spill and we are excited to now be starting a fresh chapter in 2011. We will be sprucing up our website, and are excited to debut a new name and look in the spring that reflects our growth over the past 40 years. We will also be working to create a strong foundation that will carry IBRRC through the next four decades. From oil spills and ocean dead zones to climate change, there are many threats to marine wildlife health, and we want to be prepared to meet these and future challenges head-on by providing the best possible care to aquatic birds in need.

With the help of dedicated volunteers and generous individual donors, corporate sponsors, and government partners, we have made huge strides since the 1970’s. And we hope you will help us build on that legacy of success in 2011 and in the years ahead.


Paul Kelway, Executive Director
International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC)

November 24, 2010

Boogaloo for birds Dec 4th in Hermosa Beach

Join us on Saturday, December 4 from 3 to 8 p.m. at Café Boogaloo, in Southern California for a party to benefit International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in San Pedro. The center rehabs injured wildlife, often pelicans and gulls from this area, and responds to international ecological crises like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

$10 entry will deal you into our bar-wide game of Go Fish to meet new people and compete for a prize! Catch some football as you enjoy one of our specialty cocktails then take a break to bid in our silent auction of gifts generously donated by local businesses. If alcohol, games (to watch and to play), and shopping isn’t enough to motivate you to come by, check out www.ibrrc.org to see what great work your partying will support!

Cafe Boogaloo

1238 Hermosa Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254-3529 


November 10, 2010

Search still on for beer can collared birds

The search is still on for the cruel prankster who has been putting beer cans around birds necks in the San Francisco Bay Area. So far at least 5 birds have been spotted with these aluminum collars. Sightings have come in from Lake Merced and Pier 39 and as far south as Half Moon Bay.

Rescuers are asking people to call the WildRescue hotline to report sightings: (831) 429-2323 or emailing rescue@wildrescue.org

Two organizations are collaborating on this rescue effort: International Bird Rescue (Fairfield) and WildRescue (Monterey. They are seeking the public’s help is locating the birds. They ask that instead off attempting to capture the birds, which can make them more wary and harder to catch, sightings should be reported immediately.

May 21, 2010

Nat Geo to broadcast "Gulf Oil Spill" on May 27

Nat Geo Channel: Gulf Oil Spill” Thursday, May 27 at 9 pm

In one of America’s biggest environmental disasters and the largest oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico since 1979, the BP Mississippi Canyon spill continues to enflame public and political sentiment.

Now, as experts scramble to stop the oil leak, National Geographic Channel will air a documentary on what happened to the Deepwater Horizon as a blowout blew it apart, killing 11 of the 126 men on board, sending oil gushing toward the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The special contains never-before-seen video shot by salvage crews as they battled to move close to the burning rig.

Nat Geo will broadcast a one hour special entitled “Gulf Oil Spill” Thursday, May 27 at 9 pm on the National Geographic Channel.

Read more: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/gulf-oil-spill-5488/Overview#ixzz0oX7gY7Sr

May 13, 2010

Oiled Pelican: Before wash and after cleaning

After capture, an oiled Brown Pelican, left, awaits washing at the Fort Jackson, Louisiana Oiled Wildlife Center. The same pelican, right, a few days later after it was washed at the Gulf Oil Spill Wildlife Response in May 2010.

After stabilzation, a health exam and supportive care we use a 1% Dawn dishwashing solution to clean birds of petroleum products.

April 29, 2010

Coast Guard: Gulf spill larger than first reported

The news doesn’t get any better for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The U.S. Coast Guard says its five times larger than previous estimates. The leak is now spilling 5,000 barrels — or 210,000 gallons — of crude oil a day, not a 1,000 barrels that was originally reported.

During a Wednesday night press conference, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry confirmed that a third leak on the sunken drilling rig had been discovered. The oil platform exploded and sank in the Gulf on April 20 about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.

The threat of a massive environmental disaster is becoming a very real concern. The oil, from a well nearly a mile underwater, could enter the fragile estuaries and marshes of southern Louisiana by Friday afternoon. If it hits Mississippi, it will likely do so over the weekend. (Click on map, above, to see area affected)

Jay Holcomb, International Bird Rescue’s executive director says “IBRRC is still on alert and we’ll let everyone know when we’ve been activated.”

Bird species at risk along the fragile gulf coast include Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican. Their breeding season has just started.

According to reports from the National Audubon Society, “Important Bird Areas” or IBAs that could be threatened by the slick include, Chandeleur Islands IBA and Gulf Islands National Seashore IBA in Louisiana and Mississippi; also in Louisiana, the Delta National Wildlife Refuge and Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area.

Meanwhile engineers continue to work feverishly the cap the well but have been unable to stem the underwater gush of oil. The drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded nine days ago and sank in 5,000 feet of water. More than 100 workers scrambled off the burning rig in lifeboats. 11 workers are missing and presumed dead.

News reports say that up to 4 million gallons of oil may end up in gulf waters from the BP leased well. The Exxon Valdez spill, the nation’s worst, spilled 11 million gallons in Alaska waters in 1989.

The Coast Guard and other agencies have setup a Deepwater Horizon Response web site: http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931/ The site has maps (above), command center reports and photos.

Also see:

The Oil Spill: Wildlife at Risk: New York Times Map

USA Today Interactive Map: How the oil spill grew

April 16, 2010

Chinese crewmen arrested over Barrier Reef oil spill

This week Australian authorities arrested and charged the master and officer on watch of the Chinese coal carrier that ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef.

The ship veered off course in early April in what the government has said was a dangerous and potentially catastrophic effort to save time on the ship’s voyage. The ship strayed about 15 nautical miles from regular shipping lanes before plowing full speed into Douglas Shoal on April 3. The ship leaked about 1,000 gallons of oil spread over 2 miles.

Workers successfully this week moved the 750-foot Shen Neng 1 coal transport ship off the shoal without adding to the current slick.

April 6, 2010

Oil spill hits Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Australian authorities are scrambling to stabilize a Chinese-registered coal ship that run aground Saturday and is leaking oil inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The sudden impact ruptured the 700-foot ship’s fuel tanks and spilled approximately 1,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil into surrounding waters. Fears of the ship breaking up and causing more damage prompted officials to activate a national oil spill response plan.

Most shipping companies use low-grade fuel because it’s cheap. The sludge like oil needs to be heated before being injected into engines. If it spills, it tends to be more difficult to clean up as it coats birds and other ocean animals, corals and sandy beaches in a gooey mess.

The Shen Neng 1 was hauling more than 65,000 tons of coal and carrying 300,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil it carries to run its engines. It struck the reef at full speed late Saturday in a restricted zone of the marine park near Great Keppel Island off the east coast of Queensland state – about 340 miles north of Brisbane.

Officials have also raised the possibility the ship was taking a shortcut through the marine park.

Media reports

Los Angeles Times story

Photos: Maritime Safety Queensland

April 1, 2010

Latest update on Pelican crisis: Video report

Since January 1, 2010, IBRRC has treated nearly 550 pelicans at its two bird rescue centers in California.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director updates viewers on the cause and treatment of the Brown Pelican collected starving, wet and cold in Southern and Central California. A total of 322 birds have been returned to the wild.

To date at both centers, the total numbers of pelicans include:

545 Treated

322 Released

165 Died/Euthanized

90 In care

March 6, 2010

Theodore Cross and his pursuit Of ‘Waterbirds’

NPR had a very fine remembrance this week of Theodore Cross, bird lover, photographer and author of “Waterbirds” an exceptional photo book that is on our favorites list.

Cross died February 28, 2010 of heart failure, following a fall at his home in Sanibel, Fla.

Cross pursued many passions over his 86 years: He was a real estate lawyer, a publisher, a White House adviser and a leading spokesman for black economic development. He most known for his love of photographing waterbirds – something he didn’t discover until he was in his 40s.

“I was totally ignorant of birds, then — whammo — 20 years later they became a very important part of my life,” Cross said in the NPR interview. “Except for family and friends, there’s few things I care more about than these seabirds.”

His favorite bird was a Reddish Egret.

Read, see his photos and hear the story on National Public Radio.


March 1, 2010

Pelican Event in Los Angeles to help IBRRC ‘Fill the Bill’

The G2 Gallery in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, will be hosting an Emergency ‘Fill the Bill’ reception on Friday, March 5th to support IBRRC’s pelican rescue efforts following the recent pelican crisis in California.

The G2 Gallery promotes the appreciation and conservation of the natural environment through photography and other art forms, giving 100% of all proceeds from art sales to environmental causes.

In partnership with Friends of Ballona Wetlands, Global Green and Heal the Bay, the ‘Fill the Bill’ reception will help IBRRC cover the cost of caring for over 400 cold, wet and starving California Brown Pelicans over the past 6 weeks.

The event will include light refreshments, music, raffle and silent auction, and is open to the public. So if you are in the area, please come and support our pelicans!

IBRRC would like to thank all the partners of this event for stepping up to make a difference to these majestic birds!

February 18, 2010

Signs of hope: Pelicans released back to the wild

More than a dozen pelicans were released in San Pedro on Wednesday afternoon. The birds were found sick or injured, and nursed back to health at our bird center near Los Angeles Harbor.

Staffers and volunteers at IBRRC released 14 pelicans that had been nursed back to health. They were set free at Royal Palms State Beach in San Pedro after 10 days of blood tests, treatment and food.

Hundreds of Brown Pelicans have been found wet, sick and dying along the California coast since early January when El Nino like storms lashed the state with severe rain and flooding. IBRRC has been appealing to the public to help with the high cost of caring for these birds.

Watch the ABC-TV news report: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/video?id=7270503

January 28, 2010

Join us at the SF Bay Flyway Festival Feb. 5-7

Join IBRRC and other birding experts and organizations at the 14th Annual Flyway Festival in Vallejo, CA, February 5-7, 2010.

You can participate in guided hikes and outings, tours and workshops on the bird friendly Mare Island. With over 70 events and presentations on the schedule, including one about IBRRC’s efforts, you will enjoy one the best local birding festivals in California.

The event’s website is http://www.sfbayflywayfestival.com/

January 23, 2010

More Pelicans Arrive at IBRRC due to Southern California Storms

International Bird Rescue Research Center continues to receive more cold, wet pelicans affected by the recent storms in Southern California. As of 7pm on Friday evening we now have 60 brown pelicans at our Los Angeles Center and a further 20 on their way to our San Francisco Bay center from Santa Barbara.

California Wildlife Center and Peter Wallerstein are helping to coordinate rescues around Santa Monica Bay and stabilize birds before they arrive at our seabird rescue center in San Pedro. The reports from the field indicate that there are more hypothermic birds to be caught so we are preparing for more arrivals over the coming days.

IBRRC Director, Jay Holcomb, arrives in LA this evening to assist with coordination of this escalating situation and we hope to get the washroom fully operational tomorrow.

Remember that we can’t save these pelicans without your help.

We will keep you posted.

See the CBS2/KCAL 9 video story

January 22, 2010

Pelicans hit hard by Southern California Storms, Coastal Runoff

Heavy rains and flooding take their toll on California Brown Pelicans as Seabird Specialists, International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), prepare for more cold, wet wildlife casualties at their Los Angeles seabird rescue clinic.

Hypothermic Pelicans warming by the dryer at International Bird Rescue Research Center in Los Angeles 


A series of storms battering the Southern California coast are impacting local populations of California Brown Pelicans, affected not just by the bad weather but also by the oil, grease and other contaminants washing into the ocean as a result of storm water run-off. Suffering from hypothermia, the lucky ones are being brought to the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro, Los Angeles.

“Seabird feathers provide a natural barrier to water, as well as insulation from the cold” says IBRRC Director, Jay Holcomb. “These pelicans are getting cold and wet because the water quality is so poor right now and these added contaminants are preventing the feathers from doing their job.”

“As well as coping with the storms, many of the pelicans we have received have seal bite injuries, a result of feeding frenzies due to commercial and public fishing. These injuries make it even more difficult for the birds to cope with the severe weather conditions out there this week.”

California Brown Pelican Suffering from a seal bite injury as well as severe weather

The center has received 32 pelicans in the last 48 hours and more birds are expected over the coming days. The center is asking for donations to help support the care of these animals. To help save these pelicans (or become a pelican partner and cover the cost of food and medicine for one of our patients) please go to www.ibrrc.org.

If members of the public come across sick or injured seabirds they should call International Bird Rescue Research Center at (310) 514-2573.