A Glimpse Into a Busy Week Washing Oiled Birds

Washed of oil: Brandt’s Cormorant is cleaned of contiminant at the Los Angeles Wildlife Center. Photo: Ariana Gastelum – International Bird Rescue

Since February 2024, at least 44 oiled birds have come into care at Bird Rescue’s California wildlife centers. Following recent west coast storms, staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly, washing waterbirds contaminated with oil from natural seep.

You can watch a YouTube video and witness this heartwarming journey as these birds undergo a meticulous wash and restore their feathers to waterproof perfection before transitioning to the outdoor pool, preparing them for their eventual release to the wild.

To learn more about our process for helping oiled birds, go here.

How oil Affects Birds

When oil sticks to a bird’s feathers, it causes them to mat and separate, impairing waterproofing and exposing the animal’s sensitive skin to extremes in temperature. This can result in hypothermia, meaning the bird becomes cold, or hyperthermia, which results in overheating. Instinctively, the bird tries to get the oil off its feathers by preening, which results in the animal ingesting the oil and causing severe damage to its internal organs.

See more: How Oil Affects Birds