Oiled wildlife response and rehabilitation continues to be a growing and fast-changing field. It is exciting and challenging at the same time.

Read the latest Bird Rescue research papers

At International Bird Rescue, we feel strongly that working professionals are responsible for advancing the field of wildlife rehabilitation. Therefore, research devoted to improving this profession is an essential aspect of our mission.

International Bird Rescue’s in-house research program primarily focuses on improving oiled wildlife care and response as well as the general rehabilitation of aquatic birds. We achieve this through the assessment of new techniques and protocols, including those geared towards management of large numbers of animals simultaneously, clinical trials, pathology of clinical cases and post-release studies. International Bird Rescue collaborates with outside wildlife experts and specialists from governmental or academic organizations on many of these projects.

We co-sponsored the Effects of Oil on Wildlife Conference in September 2022 in Long Beach, CA.

Research oversight

All research proposals are carefully evaluated by our Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for acceptability in wild birds undergoing rehabilitation. We have stringent guidelines that encourage research while maintaining respect for the well-being of individual patients in our care – similar to guidelines for research projects performed on humans or pet animals.

Live animal studies

As an animal welfare organization charged with providing our patients with the best achievable care, International Bird Rescue has restrictions on what research may be performed on our patients. For example, no research is approved that involves any inhumane practice. No animal will be denied treatment for its medical problems, although studies may compare different treatments. Animals are not held in captivity beyond the time when they regain a releasable state of health unless it’s shown that extra time in captivity is integral to the research question asked and is unlikely to be detrimental to the birds’ health. Contingent on the nature of the research, individual animals may be removed from a study at the discretion of the center manager or clinical veterinarian as the medical condition of each animal dictates.

Studies utilizing deceased birds

In the course of our work, we encounter deceased birds suitable as study subjects for anatomy, parasitology, genetics, ornithology, pathology, toxicology, or other biologic and biomedical projects. We encourage these studies and welcome researchers to contact us regarding potential projects.

When planning projects, researchers must bear in mind that our patients are not healthy wild animals, but rather are wild animals in various stages of recovery from problems. Researchers interested in initiating or planning projects are encouraged to contact the chair of our IACUC

Current projects include:

  • Post-release monitoring of California Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus; ongoing)
  • A comparison of manual restraint with and without sedation and outcomes for wild birds undergoingwash
  • Investigation into the performance of several keel cushion styles in diving birds commonly affected byoil spills in California
  • Survey of hemoparasites in Common Murres undergoing rehabilitation
  • Variation in distribution and fate of Brown Pelicans injured and rehabilitated in California based onband sightings
  • Effects of medical problems during care on post-release survival of California Brown Pelicans
  • Acute and sub-acute domoic acid toxicity: effects on behavior and histologic changes in Pacific Loons
  • Prevalence, incidence, and characterization of dermal lesions in diving birds undergoing rehabilitation
  • Post-release survival of oiled and non-oiled aquatic birds rehabilitated in California, 1997-2011
  • Changes in body mass of seabirds at capture associated with length of time since oil spilled: data from 26 events

Read the latest Bird Rescue research papers