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

12 thoughts on “1,053 birds arrived live; 767 washed”

  1. Wow…I had no idea that many birds were affected. Kudos to you and your team members for saving the ones you could. I envy your line of work–the closest I have ever gotten to an exotic bird was taking a picture with and African Penguin at the zoo and I was totally thrilled with that! I even got to touch it and the feathers were so dense and there were so many per square inch that I can’t imagine how you could get that clean!

  2. A number of us have been surveying the East Bay shoreline and parks, but have had trouble getting any rescue for the birds we’ve called in. Several birds were still in the locations we’d named, a few days after we reported them. Several have died in the very locations where we first saw them.

    As we go through the week, is there anything else we can do to draw more attention to the birds we find? It’s so heartbreaking and frustrating at the same time. I know resources are stretched, but I’d love to know what I can do to facilitate the rescue of the oiled birds I find. Thanks very much.

  3. I am one of the people who has been responding to all the calls on oiled birds. I have captured more birds on this spill than I have been able to keep track of. I started on Thursday the day after the spill and have had only one day off since.

    If there are many birds in one location we often are only able to catch a few and others may escape. The ones we catch are generally the most heavily oiled becasue they are weighted down by the oil, may not be able to fly, or may be very cold from heat loss due to severe oiling. The stronger ones escape because they are more alert and more mobile. The more alert birds will often “tip off” the weaker birds to our presence and we may not be able to catch any of them. As we disturb the birds up and down the coast many move to new locations.

    We often work early in the morning and late at night working with the tides to maximize our success. So you may never see us.

    If you see a location where these birds always seem to be it is because they are attractive sites to that species for hauling out. Easy access good visibility, relatively low disturbance may be why those species can always be found there. The birds you originally saw at a given site may all have been capture in the first week but because it is an attractive site for those species other birds we may have missed elswhere could have relocated there. We revisit every site where oiled birds have been sighted many times but are not always able to catch every bird every time.

    You must keep in mind that these birds do not want to be caught and they can be very difficult to catch. If they are only slightly oiled they will be able to fly away for many days until they become weak enough to catch.

    I make an determined effort to catch every single bird that I find oiled. Every time one gets away I take it as a personal failure, because I know it is more likely to die the longer it remains uncaught.

    I have walked endless miles from Ocean Beach to Crissy Fields, Sausalito to Fort Mason, Richmond Bridge to the Bay Bridge. Every part of my body aches, my children miss me and my house is a mess. I cannot be at peace knowing that the birds I was unable to cath are dying. So every day I kiss my children, appologize to my employers and get back to catching more oiled birds, hoping to catch the ones I missed yesterday before they die.

    The worst part of my job is having to find and collect all my failures, all the dead birds in same the places I have tried so hard so many times to save. Their deaths shame me and motivate me to try even harder.

    My lilttle girl told me she wished she could get “a really really big net to catch all the birds for me”. I just cried and hugged her and told her that I wish my net was big enough to cacth all the birds too.

    The reality is that even with all the best efforts and the best equipment we would still not get all the birds affected by any oil spill and many will die.

    We are trying to respond to all bird calls, so keep calling.

  4. Thank you, Anonymous, for that beautiful and poignant description. Although many of us out there surveying are not in your position nor do we hold your qualifications by any stretch, I have experienced the tears and exasperation you describe– and a deep sense of helplessness that has led to a significant despondency over this.

    I’ve been out surveying since Saturday morning — and I’ll keep going out there during any hours I can spare each day. I will do so until I see no more oiled birds for days and days in a row.

    But I’m finding it increasingly difficult to leave the birds, unsure of their fate. Your note helps me understand even better how complex the rescue efforts are for you and everyone involved in this operation.

    We found several oiled birds at Lake Merritt and Middle Harbor Shoreline, so docile and tired we could have picked them up. And yet we knew we couldn’t. And that’s where the frustration comes in. Those of us who don’t yet have the oil spill training, even if we’ve worked with birds or wildlife in other capacities, feel as though our hands are tied as we watch these poor animals suffer so.

    I wish there was a way to at least know if someone tried to help the birds that died in those spots. But that’s the idealist talking, not the realist. I realize it’s futile to expect a positive outcome for every bird when it comes to something so devastating as an oil spill. That is obviously the wretchedness of these human mistakes.

    Thank you and everyone you work with for these exemplary efforts and sacrifices you are making. So many of us here and around the Bay are highly appreciative of all you have done and are doing.

  5. Hi-

    This is Mike Ziccardi, and I am helping to organize the OWCN response for this event. “Anonymous” captures the sentiment and the effort of the wonderful field personnel perfectly – highly dedicated folks who are trying to collect as many birds as possible as soon as possible. It is a even more difficult task at this point, as most of the birds still out there remain flighted or have been scared off so many times that they are wary of people approaching. We are trying different techniques now (night captures, different netting methods) to try and get them, but it is challanging.

    PLEASE keep calling us so that we know what areas still need to be covered in depth. As the widespread effort begins to be reduced in size, we now have more ability to have specific teams respond to individual calls and sightings, especially those animals still on the beach. I am forwarding all the info from the San Francisco 311 line (415-701-2311) directly on to the field coordinator, so we can get these teams to where they need to go.

    Jak, based on your observations and those of DFG, we had a team attempt several captures at Lake Merritt. We were able to catch at least 2 scaup (I say at least 2 because we are still trying), but many of them remain very mobile. We’ll keep trying. Thank you very much for the info!

    Thank you to everyone who have offered their support and positive messages on this blog. The folks in the field and the facility greatly appreciate your sentiments in this very difficult event.

  6. There’s so many people who want to volunteer (myself included), isn’t there a way these people can be utilized? Is it possible to take some time to train volunteers to net birds? I’ve gone through the 4hour HAZMAT training, is there anything I can do? I’m available through Thanksgiving. I want to say I really appreciate the people who have been responding to the oiled bird calls.

    K. Dahlin

  7. It is gut wrenching to see these beautiful birds suffer. Keep up the good work. A huge thank you for blogging about this.

  8. A big “bravo” from France about this blog. We have had oil spills in Europe too and the deaths of so many wonderful birds as well as the damage to the ocean is unconceavably awful. Again, all my respect and admiration for what you are doing.

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