Recent Storms Stir Up Oiled Common Murres

Common Murres, contaminated with oil from natural seep, have been admitted to Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. Photo by Kelly Beffa – International Bird Rescue

A total of 19 birds – mostly oiled Common Murres – were brought to International Bird Rescue, after recent California storms. The contaminated birds were transferred on February 9 from wildlife centers in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Marin Counties.

Volunteer Arlene Davis and Bird Rescue’s Center Manager Kelly Beffa wash an oiled Common Murre. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds – International Bird Rescue

This week, staff and volunteers began washing the murres that were stable and healthy enough to endure the process. Other than contamination, they are also emaciated. According to clinic staff, the birds are actively eating to gain body weight. Once waterproof and at a healthy body weight, these birds will be released back into the wild.

Oil can be lethally harmful to waterbirds – particularly to diving birds that spend a great deal of time on the surface of the water where the oil sits. Learn more about how oil affects birds.

Each year in the fall and winter months, Bird Rescue experiences an “Oiled Bird Season” as migrating birds pass through naturally occurring oil seeps. While it is unfortunate any time a bird becomes oiled, these seasonal seep birds give us the chance to practice the techniques and procedures that would be used during a spill emergency.

How the Public Can Help

While some of the costs for natural seep events are offset by support from California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) through funding by the California Department of Fish and Game, ongoing efforts still heavily rely on donations to ensure the continuous care and rehabilitation of oiled common murres in the aftermath of recent storms. Click here to make a donation.

To report oiled wildlife sightings, please call the OWCN Response Hotline at (877) UCD-OWCN.

Media: Seabirds washing ashore along coast at alarming rate due to winter storms, Monterey Co. SPCA says