Update: Hundreds of Seabirds Released, 105 Elegant Tern Critical Patients Still in Care

One of two barges in Long Beach Harbor where a large Elegant Tern nesting colony is the scene of a continuing rescue and monitoring operation. Photo: Russ Curtis – International Bird Rescue

Over a month has passed since Bird Rescue jumped into action to respond to a seabird crisis in Long Beach Harbor. In that time, over 2,500 birds have passed through our hands, more than 650 of them brought to our wildlife center for care, and others banded in the field or rescued by our innovative rescue platform.

One of our former Elegant Tern patients was spotted in a large flock at Malibu Lagoon State Park – some 40 miles north of the original colony. Photo courtesy of Trish Oster

Hundreds of the Elegant Terns brought into our care have been successfully returned to their breeding colony to be raised naturally by their parents, which gives them the best chance for survival. Our field operations team reports that much of the population on the barges has started to disperse, including the healthy, full-grown chicks marked with bands and pink paint. One of these birds was recently spotted with a large flock in Malibu Lagoon State Park, some 40 miles north from the colony in Long Beach! Sightings of former patients in the wild inspires Bird Rescue workers to continue this demanding work.

105 chicks still remain in care at our Los Angeles wildlife center in San Pedro, CA. These patients were too ill or injured to be returned to their colony, so they will need to be raised by our team of staff and volunteers before they can be released back to the wild. In addition to regular checkups and wound treatment, we will have to innovate in order to provide these birds with the training they need to develop hunting skills they would normally learn from their parents. We would not be able to do the work we do without the generous support of  our partners and the public.

One of the Elegant Terns still in care at our Los Angeles wildlife center. Photo: International Bird Rescue

We still need the public’s help to fund the care of these high-demand patients. With over 100 chicks in care, extra staff, fish, and medical care adds up quickly. We’re grateful for the donations we’ve received so far, however, we’ve spent through all funds received up to this point to save over 2,000 lives. Every dollar counts and each donation makes a difference! Donate today to give these young seabirds a second chance.

Calling All Birders: Do you watch birds along the California coast? If so, we need your help keeping an eye out for Elegant Terns. If you spot a tern with pink paint or a leg band (they can be red, orange, or metal), whether dead or alive – please report it on our website and include any photos. Your reports will help us to understand the long-term effects of this very unusual rescue operation. As always, when observing wildlife, please be careful not to disturb the birds.