Gulf spill update: From oiled bird rescue center

A Team of California bird rescue specialists from International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) are on site in Louisiana and Alabama preparing bird rescue centers to clean up seabirds caught in the Gulf coast oil spill.

International Bird Rescue is working in partnership with Tri-state Bird Rescue & Research to prepare rehabilitation facilities in Fort Jackson, Louisiana (just northof Venice) and Theodore, Alabama, near Mobile.

Media are welcome to visit the Fort Jackson rescue center any day from 1pm to 2pm: MSRC, 100 Herbert Harvey Drive, Buras, LA.

To date, rescue teams have recovered just one bird, a Northern Gannet, which is being treated in Venice and expected to recover fully. To learn more about oiled bird treatment, see Treatment of Oiled Birds and How oil affects birds.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Exceutive Director and oil spill veteran says preparation of rescue centers is key to the wildlife response.

“International Bird Rescue’s focus now is on preparing for the influx of oiled birds once the slick moves closer to the Gulf coast, where pelicans, egrets and terns nest and feed,” said Holcomb.

“Even after my 25 years responding to oil spills, it’s impossible to predict the kinds of impacts we might see to birds—it all depends on the tides, weather, and other factors beyond our control,” Holcomb said.

“Rather than waste time with conjecture, we are spending our days preparing for any eventuality, and it’s great to have such an outpouring of support from all over the country. This truly is an all hands on deck effort, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside Tri-State Bird Rescue and other groups,” said Holcomb.

“So far, we have only rescued one oiled bird, a Northern Gannet that is being treated at the Venice facility.” said Holcomb. “The bird is in a stable condition.”

IBRRC’s Holcomb is heading the organization’s Gulf spill response team. Holcomb has responded to over 200 oil spills around the world, including Exxon Valdez and the 1979 Gulf spill. With him are a veterinarian, rehabilitation manager and capture specialist.

International Bird Rescue will be hosting a daily teleconference once the rehabilitation center set-up is complete. For up to the minute updates on bird rescue efforts in the Gulf, follow @IBRRC on Twitter.