Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

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January 15, 2010

IBRRC Director to share ‘Stories from the Frontline’ at Oakland benefit event

IBRRC Director Jay Holcomb, a pioneer in the rescue and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife for over twenty years, will be speaking at ‘Saving Seabirds – Stories from the Frontline,’ a benefit event, co-sponsored by the Oakland Zoo and Golden Gate Audubon Society, in support of International Bird Rescue Research Center’s ongoing rescue efforts. The event will take place at 6:30pm on Thursday, January 28th at the Oakland Zoo.

For the past 24 years, Jay Holcomb has led IBRRC as it has responded to more than 200 domestic and international oil spills. Jay pioneered the search and rescue program at the Exxon Valdez oil spill, managing the entire rehabilitation program that cared for over 1,600 birds. He also played a key role in managing the rescue and rehabilitation of 20,000 oiled African Penguins.

Join us for an inspiring evening and find out how a Bay Area oil spill in 1971 gave birth to an international bird rescue team that has made a difference to the lives of thousands of seabirds around the world.

Tickets for the event will available on the night for $12 – $20 (sliding scale).

For more information on the event read the KQED blog

December 10, 2009

Dawn Increases Donation to 1 Bottle = $3!!

It has just been announced that Dawn will be increasing its donation to save marine wildlife to $3 for every bottle of dishwashing liquid purchased and activated before January 4th, 2010. The donation supports both International Bird Rescue Research Center and the Marine Mammal Center.

We need your help to make the most of this amazing opportunity. If you have a blog or a Facebook page help us to spread the word!

It only takes a moment to add the bottle ID number, your zip code and the store where you purchased your bottle. Don’t forget to register

More than 30 years ago, International Bird Rescue Research Center was seeking a solution to clean oil from bird’s feathers. IBRRC discovered that Dawn dishwashing liquid was powerful enough to effectively remove oil while remaining gentle on feathers, skin and eyes. Since then, rescue groups worldwide have chosen Dawn to clean aquatic animals. More info on Dawn’s Everyday Wildlife Champions

December 10, 2009

Update on Algae-slimed Pacific NW birds

International Bird Rescue Research Center just released the last of the algae covered birds rescued from the coasts of Oregon and Washington last month. This brings the release total to 290 out of 455 birds. Considering the surprise nature of this event and the logistical challenges of getting the birds to California I think we did very well. As we said to the press, for us this was like an “oil spill without the oil”. The birds were wet and hypothermic, as they often are from oil, but were not suffering the toxics effects also associated with petroleum products. We knew from our experience with a similar algae bloom in Santa Cruz in 2007 that if we capture, treat and wash the birds quickly then they will likely have a good chance of being released.

So, we drove and airlifted birds to our San Francisco Bay center for treatment, with help from the US Coast Guard, the Humane Society of the U.S., the Hedinger Foundation and PETCO. Although the response taxed our staff, volunteers and budget, about 60% of the birds that we took in were released back to the wild.

There was one other major factor that separated this from an oil spill – there was no pre-established funding source to help these animals. Instead, it was the tremendous contributions and support from the public, from foundations and from businesses that was the difference between life and death for these birds. Without it, most of these birds would have been lost.

Soon we will post a list of all the species that were involved and other information on this event. In the meantime please check out our blog and read the most recent articles about why researchers think this event happened, what the future holds and more at www.ibrrc.org/algae-slime-response-2009.html. In the meantime, we will be looking into establishing an emergency funding source for events such as this and we will keep you informed of that venture.

This response was a good reminder of how our ongoing aquatic bird rescue and rehabilitation activities provide our team with the experience and expertise to make a difference when emergencies like oil spills and algae blooms occur. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all our supporters who make this possible.

– By Jay Holcomb,
Executive Director, IBRRC

November 19, 2009

Sea-slime Seabirds Inspire Next Generation of Philanthropists!

We are continually amazed at how the plight of seabirds inspires people to take action, particularly when that action comes from the next generation!

At the end of a very tough few weeks for International Bird Rescue Research Center‘s staff and volunteers, working around the clock to save seabirds from the Oregon algae foam, we heard from Alex Diamant, a Sacramento Resident who turned 10 years old on November 14th.

Alex’s Mom, Dea, a producer on Sacramento News Channel KCRA, had visited our wildlife center during the algae foam incident to do a news story on the rescue efforts. Inspired by this story, Alex decided to give her monthly allowance to International Bird Rescue Research Center, to help with the cost of the rescue operation of nearly 500 sea-slimed seabirds.

Not stopping there, Dea and Alex talked about the idea of visiting our seabird center with a group of friends on her 10th birthday. Alex decided that she would ask her friends to contribute to the center instead of giving her a birthday gift. After a tour with one of our staff where they got to see and learn about how we care for sick and injured seabirds, Alex presented International Bird Rescue with a check for $350!

In Dea’s words, “We sent out an email invitation to the families, inviting the girls to the party and explaining the details. There was a great response from the families. The girls had a great time and learned a lot about International Bird Rescue Research Center. They got to see a pelican get fed and given medicine. They loved seeing the birds!”

To Alex and all of her friends, thank you so much for making a difference to these seabirds! Not only does your gift help save lives but by taking action you are also an inspiration to others. That’s a gift that keeps on giving!

November 4, 2009

IBRRC: Deeply saddened by Coast Guard air crash

On Monday October 26, 2009 a U.S. Coast Guard crew stationed at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, CA generously donated their time and the use of Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft #1705 to transport over 300 seabirds impacted by a Harmful Algae Bloom off the coast of Oregon in order that they could be rehabilitated at International Bird Rescue Research Center in Fairfield.

IBRRC’s staff and volunteers were saddened to hear that Coast Guard crew members also stationed in Sacramento were involved in the fatal crash in San Diego which involved the same C-130 plane last Friday, October 30, 2009.

Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families and friends of everyone involved.

Media report on the flight of mercy:

Algae Bloom Epidemic: Survival takes Coast Guard flight: The Daily Astorian

October 31, 2009

Good deeds, words of encouragement gave us strength

After a crazy busy week helping birds from the Pacific Northwest sea algae slime event, this is where we at IBRRC stop and say thanks – thanks to all the wonderful volunteers, organizations and donors that have opened their hearts and pocketbooks to help.

The assistance came from all over. People from all walks of life: Fellow wildlife centers, businesses in the area and the U.S. Coast Guard. See our thank you list

The words of encouragement gave us all strength:

“Keep up the great work! Without you, we wouldn’t have these beautiful creatures to enjoy in the Bay Area.” – Jennifer, Richmond, California

“May the birds be with us! IBRRC rocks!” – Darren & Tom, Sonoma, CA

“…We live and boat on the Maumee River and Great Lakes. Nothing feeds my soul like an early morning kayak trip to watch the birds and wildlife. Thank you for all you do to protect them…” – Christine, Toledo, Ohio

Save some birds!! You guys are FANTASTIC! – Julie, Vancouver, Washington

Thanks for all your help. IBRRC (and the birds) appreciate your support!

October 27, 2009

Coast Guard life flight for birds from Oregon


Thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard for heeding our call for help in the transport of 305 seabirds from Oregon to California today. The birds were caught up in the toxic algae foam that has hit Oregon and Washington coasts causing widespread beaching of sick and dying seabirds.

Using a C-130 the Coast Guard crew flew the birds from Astoria, Oregon to McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, CA. The video report (above) video by ABC 7 News in San Francisco captures the work done in the air and on the ground. Full report

October 22, 2009

Watershed of hope & renewal: "A Simple Question"

Terrific world premiere tonight in San Francisco of A Simple Question: The Story of STRAW the inspiring and moving film about students and teachers restoring a Sonoma, CA watershed. The video captures a 4th grade class project in 1992 that grows into bigger program that has restored over 20 miles of local riparian habitat.

STRAW stands for “Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed” and is run through the The Bay Institute based in Novato, CA. The group provides teachers and students with scientific, educational and technical resources to help them do hands-on, outdoor watershed studies and restoration.

For the past 17 years, STRAW has helped 16,000 students plant over 33,000 native plants along urban and rural creeks to help restore these fragile ecosystems in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano Counties. It started out as 4th grade project dubbed “The Shrimp Club” with a plan to save the California freshwater shrimp or Syncaris pacifica.

San Francisco filmmakers, Kevin White and David Donnefield used archive and recent footage in this 35 minute film, capturing the beauty of kids connecting with the natural environment. You can really see the changes as the trees and shrubs planted take shape. The projects has also been instrumental in helping attract more birds to these riparian ecosystems.

One of the beauties of the film is the teachers refueled by passion for environmental education with hands on science activities with their students.

Note: The film has been chosen to screen at the 8th Annual Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival held in Nevada City, CA. Tickets and information are available at www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org/

More info on A Simple Question and The STRAW Project

October 5, 2009

Along for the ride: Kingbird scares off a hawk

Sometimes smaller birds can be downright agressive. Take this Kingbird photographed defending its space in Colorado.

A birder captured the brilliant photo of the Kingbird hitching a ride on the Hawk as it flew through its territory.

Full story in the Denver Post

October 1, 2009

Ocean plastics: Bringing attention by "Thriller" dance

Want to show the world that plastic debris is choking our oceans? Get your zombie dancing shoes on for the October 24th Thriller dance-a-thon to bring more attention to ocean trash. In the South Bay of Los Angeles it starts at 3 PM in Rolling Hills Estates. More info

It is overwhelming to realize that so much plastic trash ended up in the ocean instead of recycle centers or landfills. The last several years, I have had opportunities to help rescue marine animals along the coast of Los Angeles. Just recently, when I saw a sea lion in LA Harbor, with gillnet cutting into neck, I just couldn’t stop thinking there must be a way to raise awareness by demonstrating this issue. What if I become a zombie who was killed by marine debris (or plastic trash)….? Yes. That’s how the whole thing started!

– Akiko Kanna Jones, Thrill The World – South Bay

Thrill the World is an annual worldwide simultaneous “Thriller” dance for charity. It’s also a tribute to Michael Jackson.

September 26, 2009

DAWN Saves Wildlife still growing strong

The Dawn Saves Wildlife program is still growing strong. Nearly 100,000 bottles of DAWN Dishwashing liquid have been registered online at Dawn Saves Wildlife. The top state activating bottles is California with 5,600 followed by Texas with 5,300.

We want to thank all the committed folks who have helped make this program such a success. IBRRC and the Marine Mammal Center, both based in California, split the $1 per bottle that DAWN is contributing through its manufacturer, Procter & Gamble. The extra funds go a long way in helping us care for more sick and injured birds.

Appreciation also goes out this week for the great, balanced New York Times Business Section story on the DAWN-IBRRC history. The writer documented some important information about our history using DAWN to clean oiled animals.

In 1978, Alice Berkner, founder of the International Bird Rescue Research Center, which helps birds harmed by oil spills, secured a small grant from Chevron to test all major dish soaps for cleaning birds.

“The one that worked better than anything else was Dawn,” Jay Holcomb, executive director of the group, said in a telephone interview from California, where the center operates outside San Francisco and Los Angeles. “It cut the oil faster than anything else.”

The organization informed Dawn’s parent company, Procter & Gamble, which initially ignored requests to donate cases of the product, then finally agreed to do so in 1988, according to Mr. Holcomb. (P.& G. said in a statement that because Dawn had made its debut only in 1973, “In these early stages it was important for Dawn to solidify its fundamentals before pursuing opportunities the brand felt passionate about.”)

The piece is entitled: Tough on Crude Oil, Soft on Ducklings

September 18, 2009

Death in the family affects us all

We recently lost a good friend of IBRRC. Damien “Joey” Joseph Kam (photo, far left), a dedicated volunteer at the San Pedro bird center and husband of one our respected former employees, Cyndie Kam, passed away unexpectedly in Newport Beach, CA, on August 28, 2009. He was 44.

He is survived by his wife, Cyndie, 37, and son Colin, 16 months old, of Costa Mesa, CA.

We remember Damien and others on our website

September 2, 2009

PRBO: Shift in bird species expected from warming

A new study of how climate change affects birds says dramatic changes are in store for the bird world over the next 60 years.

As much as half of California could be occupied by new bird communities by 2070 as warming of our climate leads to huge evolutionary shifts in bird distribution. Usually these shifts happen over thousands of years, according to researchers with PRBO.

“What we found is that not only will species shift and communities change, but the composition of communities in certain places will not resemble anything we see today,” said Diana Stralberg, lead author of the report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Certain species might die off or will migrate to other areas as rapid climate changes get under way. The shift will also alter vegetation, insect populations and predator distribution, the report suggests.

“This is more than just an interesting finding about birds,” said Dr. John Wiens, PRBO’s Chief Conservation Science Officer and a co-author. “Birds are nature’s barometers. If birds occur in different combinations in the future, it’s likely that other organisms such as insects and plants will as well. The reshuffling of bird assemblages that we project may just be the tip of the iceberg.”

The report is titled: “Reshuffling of Species With Climate Disruption: A No-Analog Future for California Birds?” It was published Sept. 2, 2009 in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, was conducted by scientists with PRBO, Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz and the Klamath Bird Observatory. The group studied 60 birds from various California habitats, including oak woodlands, conifer forests, grasslands, riparian and coastal scrub.

PRBO, also known as the Point Reyes Bird Observatory is based in Petaluma, CA.

Full report on PLos one

News story from San Francisco Chronicle

August 27, 2009

Second 10,000 birds report on IBRRC’s efforts

Another nice post on the 10,000 birds blog site about our release of seven hand-raised Double-crested Cormorants. The report captures the mood and dedication of staff and volunteers at the Fairfield, CA center.

Removed from nests which were slated to be destroyed as the unfortunate parents had chosen utility poles to build on, staff at the Center had hatched the eggs, looked after the chicks, watched them grow until they were large enough to be placed in a 100 ft aviary with its own private swimming pool, and were now ready – today – to take them down to the ocean for release…

‘The release of healthy birds back into the wild where they belong’. It’s a simple-enough sounding concept, but the chain of events leading up to a release are complex, expensive, and require people to get involved. Think about it. Oiled, injured, or unhealthy birds first need to be found. There then needs to be somewhere to take them, experts to look after them, and volunteers and funding to support those experts. Modes of transport need to be available, and there needs to be drivers willing to use them. There needs to be organization, best practices, people willing to learn, to get dirty, to put aside value judgments on whether one bird is worth more than another. It takes people to really care. And finding people who care is not simple at all.

Thanks to Charlie Moores for the excellent reporting and photography.

Read this latest post n the 10,000 birds site

Also read earlier posting The IBRRC: Special place, special people

August 14, 2009

ExxonMobil pleads guilty to migratory bird deaths

The Exxon Mobil Corp. pleaded guilty in federal court in Denver to killing at least 85 protected waterfowl, hawks and owls in five states over the past five years.

According to the New York Times story:

The birds died from exposure to natural gas well reserve pits and waste water storage facilities at Exxon Mobil drilling and production facilities in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming between 2004 and 2009.

Exxon will pay $600,000 in fines.

Full story here