Nothing like a bird release to lift the spirits

Surf-Scoter-flies-Mystery-Goo-released-1-4-15-Oakland-webA Surf Scoter flies free at the Oakland Port Wednesday. Photos by Cheryl Reynolds

Twenty more birds cleaned of the East Bay mystery goo were released Wednesday morning at the Oakland Port.

Dunlins, a shorebird prevalent in San Francisco Bay, is released in Oakland.
Dunlins, a shorebird prevalent in San Francisco Bay, is released in Oakland.

“There’s nothing like a bird release to lift the spirits,” said Russ Curtis, spokesperson for International Bird Rescue. “Our reward is seeing these beautiful, clean birds returned to their natural habitat in good health.”

This is the first release in the East Bay where nearly 3 weeks ago hundreds of birds were rescued coated with a sticky, unknown contaminant. The birds were released along the sand dunes at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park at the Oakland Port.

With this release, the total of birds returned to the wild is now 101. More than 110 birds still remain in care at our San Francisco Bay Center in Fairfield, CA.

Among those released: 11 Surf Scoters, 4 Dunlins, 4 Western Sandpipers, and 1 Eared Grebe.

The mystery goo event began on January 16, 2015, when staff members at the East Bay Regional Park District began rescuing seabirds beached on local shores and covered in a thick substance. The affected birds lost their critical ability to stay waterproof in the cool San Francisco Bay waters.

Over the last several weeks each of the birds was medically stabilized and then washed using a combination of baking soda and vinegar, followed by washing with Dawn dishwashing soap.

To date, 323 birds were delivered to our center. 110 where DOA or died in care. Another 170 birds were collected dead by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel.

State and private labs are still testing the goo feather samples. Earlier testing ruled out petroleum products as the culprit. See: Scientists Struggle to Identify Gooey Substance, Planet Experts

Since there is no responsible party to pay for this response, International Bird Rescue is shouldering the complete cost of caring for these seabirds. Donations are always appreciated.

Some of our volunteers, Marge Elliott, left, and Julia Winiarski, carry birds to release site.