The eye of the storm: Oiled bird care Gulf update

Nearly 80 days into the BP Gulf oil spill, IBRRC’s Executive Director Jay Holcomb has an update from the center of oiled avian treatment in Louisiana:

Hello from Fort Jackson! We had a very busy few weeks, treating hundreds of oiled brown pelicans. Mostly adults, but some nestlings too. 

It has quieted down enough to write a quick update. The lull we’ve been experiencing in the last couple of days may be due to the weather, which has been stormy. Storms and high seas prevent rescue teams from getting out to the islands and shoreline to look for oiled wildlife. As the weather improves, we expect an influx in new patients of varying species in various stages of development.

In the past week, we have had a few interesting new arrivals, like this juvenile Roseate Spoonbill that received its wash yesterday. (See video above)

Additional news: We will be moving our main oiled bird facility in Louisiana from Fort Jackson to Hammond in the coming weeks. With hurricane season upon us, it’s imperative and required by the Office of Homeland Security we be located outside the ‘evacuation’ zone.
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Tomorrow, we will be releasing some of the few remaining adult brown pelicans. Each one is ringed with a metal federal band and a colored plastic leg band to identify it from afar. The birds are being released as far from the spill as possible, hoping they will stay away, but there is no guarantee they will not try to fly home.

As for our operations throughout the Gulf, we have Tri-State Bird Rescue and International Bird Rescue team members staffing facilities in Pensacola, Florida, Theodore, Alabama, and Gulfport, Mississippi tending to wildlife casualties in these respective states. At each center, the mornings begin with rounds, checking on patients and providing them with fresh meals. By mid-morning, washes have begun. Throughout the day, washed birds are evaluated for release.


– Jay, from Fort Jackson, Louisiana

IBRRC has more than 40 response team members on the ground including veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitation managers and facilities and capture specialists.

This oil gusher involves a ruptured well approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010 and sank in 5,000 feet of water. More than 100 workers scrambled off the burning rig in lifeboats. 11 workers died.

The spill has not slowed in the Gulf of Mexico and in its wake it has harmed the fragile breeding grounds for Brown Pelicans and other shorebirds. 10 weeks after the blow out, BP is drilling two relief wells to stem the tide of crude in the nation’s worst oil disaster.

2 thoughts on “The eye of the storm: Oiled bird care Gulf update”

  1. Thank you so much, Jay, for this update and the video of the precious spoonbill — and thanks to every one working so hard day after day to care for the birds! The San Francisco Chronicle ran a lovely photo of cleansed pelicans, looking all healthy and restored, in their online "Day in Pictures" feature yesterday. Your updates and the "after cleaning" bird photos are the brightest ray of hope in this catastrophe. Stay strong and well, everyone!

  2. Nice update, the little spoonbill looks calm and somewhat enjoying the wash. Seeing these video's of the birds getting washed, rehabilitated, and released, allows all of us to see the positive work that is being done during this Gulf disaster. Keep up the wonderful job!

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