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Home  |   Our Work  |   Research and Innovation  |   Birds in Focus

Birds in Focus

Specialists in treating oiled wildlife

Over the past 40 years, International Bird Rescue has treated a growing number of animals, both birds and other species, during oil spills and in general rehabilitation. Below is a list of common species we treat.

Laysan Albatross

Primarily nocturnal feeders, Laysans will travel long distances for food. Nests on Midway Atoll some 3,000 miles west of San Francisco. Among the longest living bird species. Feeds on anything that floats on the surface of the water; squid, fish, crustaceans and flying fish eggs.

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Black Footed Albatross

Large, very long-winged seabird. Mainly blackish brown, with white on face and a dark bill. Amount of white increases as birds age. Glides like a shearwater, with stiff wingbeats. It breeds on islands in the mid-Pacific Ocean. Non-breeding albatrosses can be found along the Pacific coast of North America.

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Crested Auklet

Nests in rock crevices; incubating bird seldom visible from outside. Egg normally laid directly on soft damp soil on floor of rock crevice, or on collections of small pebbles and detritus in a rock crack; perhaps occasionally on bare rock. Egg normally laid in a shallow depression on floor of crevice, apparently excavated by bird where possible.

Double-Crested Cormorant

They have long bodies, long necks, long beaks with a hooked upper mandible, completely webbed feet, short legs and wedge-shaped tails. Plumage is predominantly black with a greenish or bronze sheen in both sexes.

Called "duck-crows" by early settlers, cormorant populations have undergone dramatic changes over the last three decades. Cormorant populations crashed during the 1960's and 1970's, as a result of widespread use of toxic chemicals such as DDT and PCBs. DDT has been linked to reproductive failure and eggshell thinning in many species of birds, while PCBs have been linked to deformities.

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Snowy Egret

Breeding Snowy Egrets have particularly long lacy white plumes extending off back and chest areas. It builds nests in reeds or more often in trees, 5-12 feet off the ground. Similar to the Cattle Egret.

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Northern Fulmar

Northern Fulmars come in a wide array of color phases, from pale gray to dark brownish-gray. Their stiff-winged flapping and gliding is similar to shearwaters.

Pigeon Guillemot

All black with white wing patches in summer. Mostly white with dusky back in winter.

Their breeding habitat is rocky shores, cliffs and islands on northern often forming small loose colonies.

After the breeding season, birds in Alaska migrate south to open waters, whereas some Guillemots from California move north to waters off British Columbia.

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Clark's Grebe

Long necked with distinctive bright reddish eyes. Almost identical to Western Grebe. To tell the difference look around the eyes. is completely surrounded by white - it's a Clark's Grebe.

Western Grebe

Long necked with distinctive bright reddish eyes. Almost identical to Clark's Grebe. To tell the difference look around the eyes.The Western Grebe's black head marking edges down past its eyes.

Western Gull

Seen along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to Baja, western gulls don't often move beyond the reach of the tides. Breeds in the San Francisco Bay Area on Farallones, Alcatraz and Red Rock Islands.

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Green Heron

Smallest Northern American heron. During breeding season they erect neck feathers and prance around uttering a "qua qua" to attract females.

White-faced Ibis

Ibis feed in groups by probing mud flats. Ibises nest in areas where water surrounds emergent vegetation, bushes, shrubs, or low trees.They also use flooded rice fields as feeding locations.

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Common Loon

Large in size; bold patterned necks. Live in ocean, lakes, and ponds. Known for its mournful cry.

Common Murre

Penguin-like appearance, uses wings to dive under water for cod and herring. Extremely sensitive to oil spills as murres spend most of the non-breedding season at sea. Major oil spills along central California coast have had significant impact on their populations.

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Brown Pelican

Lives in Open shores and bays. Hunts fish with spectacular plunge-dives from 20-60 feet in the air. Listed as endangered species in 1971.

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White Pelican

Lives in lakes and shallow lagoons. Eye-catching white with orange bill and black flight feathers.

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African Penguin

Lives on islands between Namibia and Port Elizabeth, South Africa. New colonies established along mainland areas near Cape Town, SA. Known also as the "Jack Ass" penguin for donkey-like braying call. Long-term population declines sited due to oil spills (See: Treasure Spill Response)  and fishing habitat loss. Read more

Magellanic Penguin

The Magellanic penguin is found in South America. It is the most numerous of all penguins and is found along the rocky shores in Central Chile and central Argentina, south to Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands. All penguins live in the southern hemisphere, but not all live in cold places. Learn more

Snowy Plover

Seen along Pacific Coast from British Columbia to Mexico, and along Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida Panhandle. Also breeds locally in interior parts of California and Nevada. On threatened list.

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Surf Scoter

Surf Scoters forage in the zone of breaking waves, and habitually dive through foaming wave crests. Due to their distinct black-and-white pattern, were formerly known as Skunk-ducks and Skunk-head Coots.

Roseate Spoonbill

Found along the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Southern Florida, and in the Tropics/South American. Spoonbills prefer mangroves, saltwater lagoons and good-sized shallow lakes.

The Roseate Spoonbill has bright pink coloring and is often mistaken for a flamingo. The distinctive spoonlike bill is long and flat.

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Elegant Tern

Elegant Terns breed on islands in the Gulf of California along the west coast of Baja California, and near San Diego, California. They commonly move north to the central California coast from midsummer through fall. Sometimes fiound as far notth as Washington. This species winters along the coast of western South America, from Peru to Chile.

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Red-tailed Tropicbird

One of three species of tropicbirds that are oceanic and found far offshore in warm water. Rare visitor to waters off California.

Tropicbirds court each other with an aerial display and callings. They make their nests on ledges and in holes and crevices in the cliffs, and lay a single egg on the ground. Both parents share in incubation and in feeding of the chick.


History of Oiled Seabrids

Download PDF (370KB)

Grebe Movement Study

Download the movements of Western & Clark’s Grebes study paper (PDF)