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Gone But Not Forgotten

Jay Holcomb

Photo of Jay Holcomb Intl BirdRescue at Treasure Oil Spill penguin release

Jay Holcomb. Photo by Jon Hrusa/IFAW

International Bird Rescue executive director Jay Holcomb, an icon in the world of wildlife rehabilitation and a relentless pioneer in oiled wildlife care since the 1970s, died on June 10, 2014.

Under his direction, International Bird Rescue grew into one of the world's preeminent wildlife organizations, caring for animals affected by large-scale oil spills such as Exxon Valdez in 1989 and the Gulf Spill in 2010, where Holcomb and his team cared for pelicans, gannets and other birds harmed by the environmental disaster.

Holcomb became executive director of International Bird Rescue in 1986 and has held director and director emeritus roles since then. During his leadership, the organization led or co-led oiled wildlife efforts at some of the world's largest oil spill emergencies, from the MV Erika Spill in France to the Treasure Spill in South Africa. During the Gulf Spill in 2010, International Bird Rescue's response team was mobilized in four states.

"I've devoted my career to wildlife rehabilitation," Holcomb wrote in his organization's 2013 annual report. "It's an often unsung, crisis-based field, and the challenges in the work are many. But I can't think of anything more rewarding I could have done with my life."

Read the full rememberance on our blog

Melina Mosch


Melina Mosch. Photo by Ivar Ojaste

We at International Bird Rescue were saddened to hear of the recent death of Melina Mosch. Melina was a key part of Project Blue Sea, an environmental advocacy and direct action organization that we have worked side-by-side with at a number of spills in Europe.

Melina was a vital part of the team caring for oiled birds in the response center at Keila during the Estonia Mystery Spill in 2006. She later interned in IBR's rehabilitation program at the San Francisco Bay Center in Cordelia, California and was known by us all for her hard work, thoughtfulness and her dedication to animals.

She had battled illness for several years before finally succumbing on February 20, 2010. She will be sorely missed by all of us, human and non-human animal alike.

Damien "Joey" Joseph Kam


Damien "Joey" Joseph Kam, (far right) with his family.

Damien "Joey" Joseph Kam, dedicated volunteer at the San Pedro bird center and husband of one our respected former employees, Cyndie Kam, passed away unexpectedly in Newport Beach, CA, on August 28, 2009. He was 44.

He is survived by his wife, Cyndie, and son Colin, of Costa Mesa, CA, Mother and step-father, Barbara and Earl Naito, Father, Willis Kam, and Sister Teri Hampton and family.

Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, Damien lived in California since 1994. He was an employee at PIMCO for over 4 years. Damien was a loving and dedicated husband and father.

Our heart goes out to Damien's loving family. He will be greatly missed.

A remembrance and more photos at

Eric Sticht


Eric Sticht

Eric John Sticht, an avid IBR volunteer and most recently a part-time facilities manager, passed away on Friday, October 19, 2007 of natural causes. He was 47.

He had a great love of nature and animals, and worked many tireless hours at the International Bird Rescue and Research Center in San Pedro.

Eric was born on September 7, 1960 in Pomona, California. He is survived by his twin brother, Mark; his sons, Sean and Kevin; and his niece, Hannah. Eric grew up in Newport Beach where he loved sailing, body surfing and cook outs on the beach.

He graduated from Corona Del Mar High School and then UC Irvine with a degree in Computer Science. Eric excelled in his computer programming jobs and his many activities. He loved to go camping with his sons. He was an avid sailor, kayaker, and scuba diver.

He will sorely missed by all his friends at IBRRC and the countless friends that crossed his path.

Update: Each year the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association awards the Eric Sticht Memorial Scholarship. It is given to enhance the education of wildlife rehabilitators. One scholarship is awarded to help defray expenses of attending the NWRA Symposium. This scholarship is given through NWRA by longtime IBR supporter and volunteer Dave Weeshoff in memory of Eric. See additional info: NWRA Eric Sticht Memorial Scholarship.

Mary Dunlap

mary dunlap

Mary Dunlap

Mary Dunlap a long-time friend and supporter of International Bird Rescue died on Jan 17, 2003. She was a respected civil rights attorney in San Francisco and taught law at Hasting College. Mary was the director of San Francisco's Office of Citizen Complaints, the city's independent police watchdog agency.

Mary died her home in San Francisco. She was 54.

Fittingly an article about Jay Holcomb and IBR's oiled bird rescue work, appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle the same day as Mary's obituary.

Update from: "Mary Would Do It!"

"...After the disastrous November 2007 oil spill in the San Francisco Bay that threatened marine life throughout the bay and along a huge swathe of the California coast, several of Mary's friends volunteered at a major rescue center, the International Bird Rescue and Research Center in the Fairfield-Suisun delta, for training in the intake and care of oiled birds."