State lab tests today ruled out polyisobutylene (PIB) as the cause of the mystery goo that is injuring and killing birds in San Francisco Bay.
Since Friday, January 16, International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center has received more than 300 seabirds with gooey feathers caused by an unknown sticky substance. The rubber cement like goop mats the seabirds feathers causing them to lose their insulation and become hyperthermic.
To clean the birds properly, crews are using baking soda and vinegar to loosen the goo, followed by Dawn detergent and warm water to wash out the substance.
Birds rescued are coming primarily from the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay – from Alameda south to Hayward. Several Surf Scoters were found early this week on the west side of the bay in Foster City.
As the search for clues for the exact cause of the goo, International Bird Center continues to care for a growing number of affected birds. The numbers to date include 321 birds admitted with 271 live in care. A total of 135 have been washed.
California Fish and Wildlife officials are reporting another 200 birds have been found dead in the field.
“We estimate that it costs $8,000 each day to pay for the care and washing of these seabirds, ” said Barbara Callahan, interim Executive Director of International Bird Rescue. “And we so appreciate the public’s support of these beautiful birds.”
Most of the seabirds affected are diving birds, including Surf Scoters, Buffleheads, Goldeneyes and Horned Grebes. A few shorebirds have also been rescued.
The search continues for stricken seabirds. Today San Francisco Baykeeper, a local conservation group, is helping International Bird Rescue by organizing additional volunteer groups to do more shoreline searches for ailing birds. Learn more
Spot an impacted bird? Report it through our an online form for public reports.
Mystery deepens: Prime bird death suspect ruled out, SF Chronicle