Juvenile Gray Whale Dies on Manila Beach

At 5:45 pm the phone rang at our Bayside clinic. A small whale had just beached in Manila. We typically receive calls all day long about wildlife in trouble, but a whale beaching is not exactly ordinary. Laura Corsiglia, co-director at Bird Ally X, headed to the site to gather information and make photographs.

Fortunately our area is rich in wildlife professionals, in no small measure due to the presence of the nationally recognized wildlife program at Humboldt State University. Neither BAX or the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center are equipped to treat any marine mammals, so we then notified North Coast Marine Mammal Center’s hotline (951-4722) and we contacted Dawn Goley, professor of zoology at HSU and Stranding coordinator of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Sadly, the whale, a juvenile about 10 meters in length, was already deceased. While Ms. Corsiglia documented the process, Professor Goley along with some of her students, and members of the NCMMC stranding team took samples and performed a field examination of the whale’s body.

Multiple scars were seen, showing evidence of entanglement in derelict fishing gear or ropes.

Wrecked on the shore, the whale is very impressive, beautiful, elegant and graceful, even though stranded and to roam the seas no more forever.

Coming directly on the heels of another stranding on Centerville Beach, about 30 miles south and with the reports of a massive krill die-off along the Northern California/Southern Oregon coast – this whale’s death reminds us that the ocean we love, and in many ways take for granted, is experiencing very hard times.

While the problems facing our world seem insurmountable, we must act as if they are not. We must begin now and everyday to repair our relationship with the earth who sustains us and gives us our life. We must do what we can to help the ocean, the rivers – the waters of life and our only hope for survival – we must do what we can to help them heal. Please, even a small act, such as picking up discarded fishing line, or any trashy debris, is an act in the right direction. Let’s not wait for Earth Day, or Ocean Clean-up Day – the whole natural world is waiting for us to rejoin them.
(all photos: Laura Corsiglia/ Bird Ally X)

Linda Stockton of the North Coast Marine Mammal Center

Backlit, the whiskers of this sea mammal are easy to admire.

Samples of the dead whale’s flesh are taken for study.

Scars around the tail show more evidence of entanglement.

Scars in the corners of the whale’s mouth are also likely from entanglement in derelict rope.

Professor Dawn Goley, HSU, measures wounds likely cause by derelict gear.


Large Aviary at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center Nears Completion

Framing up and priming underway!

With a $2000 sponsorship from Northcoast Horticulture Supply, Bird Ally X began construction of a new large aviary at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center this Spring. At 24 by 30 feet and with a 12 foot ceiling, this aviary will be large enough for Red-tailed hawks and Ravens and will greatly increase capacity at our small Bayside, California facility. With final work being done right now, we anticipate completion by July 1.

Multi-purpose design allows for flexible use!

Added to our other recent additions, our capacity to care for injured and orphaned wildlife on California’s Northcoast  has grown dramatically in the last 2 years. We now have specialized aviaries for every species of bird that we treat. We’ve also added new mammal housing for complete onsite care for all our raccoon, opossum (and this year even coyote) patients!

 Sage green, helping preserve our rural ambience!

These additions do cost money! We use recycled, re-purposed and donated materials whenever we can but still, your help is greatly appreciated. Our goal of $5000 will cover the cost of the new Large Aviary.

You can help us meet that goal by contributing today!
Your contribution directly supports the necessary work of rehabilitatiing wildlife injured and orphaned, nearly 100% of the time by the casual damage caused by our industrial world.

Thank you for your love of wildlife and support of our work!

The 12 foot height presents challenges for interns tasked with construction

In alliance all wild animals,

Bird Ally X


Preparing for the Possibility of Pelicans: 2013

2012: Contaminated Pelicans await admission exam at HWCC

Along with our daily work of caring for patients and increasing our capacity at HWCC, Bird Ally X has been working to protect Brown Pelicans from the hazards of this year’s fishing season. The pelicans that hatched in the South are soon to arrive as they leave their nests and disperse North.

 Working with California Department of Fish and Wildlife and US Fish and Wildlife Service, BAX has developed educational signs that will be posted at all regional marinas, boat launches and fish processing sites.

We’ve continued to call for alternative methods of disposing of the valuable remains of sport fishers’ cleaned catch, such as composting, soil amendments, etc. Not only does irresponsible disposal of fish “waste” injure and kill pelicans and other seabirds, the act is mindless, thoughtless, careless – an utter disregard of the contribution of the fish.

As it turns it out, discarding all but the fillets of a salmon, or tuna, or rockfish is also akin to throwing away money. Soil amendment companies both locally and beyond the “Redwood Curtain” have need for exactly the kind of nutrients that fish remains provide.
 Connecting these businesses with this resource should be easy and mutually beneficial.

Pelicans in the spray of fish waste, Crescent City 2012

So far, there are no clear indications of what might happen this year. The discharge pipe that poured ground fish onto the waiting heads and backs of recently fledged pelicans in Shelter Cove still operates although now the pipe is submerged. It remains to be seen if this will be an effective solution. One thing is clear – it cannot be as effective as simply ending the practice of dumping what Cal EPA regards as sewage into state waters. 

November 2012, Crescent City received a $527,000 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board to build a new, bird safe, fish cleaning station.

Among the factors over which we have no control, the breeding season in Southern California is in jeopardy. 2013 began with an alarming marine mammal die-off lasting until spring, just as Brown Pelicans would be returning to the Channel Islands to breed.  Because pelicans rely on the same fish as sea lions (i.e. anchovies) this might bode poorly for this year’s offspring. Without anchovies, pelicans, sea lions and many other species cannot survive.

 Last year (2012) only 10 Brown Pelicans fledged from the Channel Islands. Every young of year bird we saw anywhere along the West coast came into the world at the breeding colonies of Baja California. The subsequent disasters that befell these birds as they moved North are a terrible indication of how badly industrial civilization has compromised the California Coast. Harmful algal blooms, disappearing food, both commercial and sport fishing infrastructure, from trawler waste to discarded line – these are serious challenges to Brown pelicans, and all of us.

The discharge pipe at Shelter Cove, dousing pelicans in gore, 2012.

A relatively small problem in the landscape of our 21st century environmental nightmare, the infrastructure to handle fish waste on the North Coast is a threat to Brown Pelicans that we can easily solve. Moreover, fish waste is not only a regional problem but one that impacts pelicans and other coastal wildlife throughout California – and everywhere.

Here on the North Coast we have the opportunity to build a model for effective measures that will stop these contaminations. While laws already protect Pelicans and all seabirds, as well as the marine environment, according to a local wildlife biologist, “law enforcement will never see fish waste as deleterious.”

Pelican with tuna head lodged in throat, 2012.

In an important court case in Canada, Environment Canada was able to demonstrate that crude fish waste dumped from a tanker was a deleterious substance due to the harm it caused seabirds.

Hopefully, we’ll see this recognition of fish waste’s harmful impact move South to our region.

Humboldt County faces challenging times on many fronts – sea level rise and other local effects of global climate disruption, as well as the more typical push and pull between development and preservation – the list is long and serious… we worry about fish waste while coal ports are planned up and down the West coast! Yet the manageability of this problem is another good reason to solve it quickly. 

There is much work to be done. Let’s begin with what is in our reach.

Want to help? Let your local leaders know that you want Pelican Safe Marinas. Your contribution to Bird Ally X goes directly toward supporting our work, caring for injured wildlife – your support makes our work possible.  Thank you!
In alliance with Pelicans and all wild animals,

Bird Ally X


Baby Season!

Coyote pup receives physical examination upon admission.

AS spring rolls into summer at BAX/HWCC, we are deep in the heart of our busiest season –  our small facility is filling quickly with young animals without parents to care for them. All were made orphans during an unfortunate conflict with the man-made world: mothers shot, mothers hit by cars, mothers and babies caught by house cats, some babies picked up by and taken away from their parents by well-intended tho’ misguided “rescuers”… 

Since last summer we’ve made four additions to our patient housing – an aviary for ravens, hawks and other birds, new mammal housing (currently surrogate home to three orphaned coyote siblings), a raccoon nursery, and a 12 foot diameter seabird pool that can run fresh or salt water. And as the movie cliche’  predicts, since we’ve built it, they have come.

Coyote pups, crow babies, raven babies, hatchling house finches, opossums, baby skunks and nearly two dozen raccoon kits have all been treated at our clinic in Bayside.

How you can help wild familes stay together:

  • Don’t trim trees and shrubs until fall, when birds’ nests are empty.        
  • Be tolerant of adult mammals, such as raccoons and skunks out in broad daylight. They have more mouths to feed back at the den.
  • If you find a young bird learning to fly, keep pets and kids away. Parent birds are nearby. Usually all is well.
  • Always, keep cats indoors or on a leash. Outdoor cats die young and together are responsible for billions of wildlife deaths each year.
  • If you find a wild baby or adult that you think needs help call 1(888) 975-8188 – we will help you find a wildlife rehabilitator near you. 
  • If you’re in the Humoldt/Del Norte area call (707) 822-8839.

Our work is 100% funded by support from the community and wildlife lovers everywhere. To help, please contribute using our paypal donate button. Your contribution is 100% tax-deductible and goes directly to the care of injured and orphaned wildlife as well as our efforts to prevent injuries and keep wild families together! Thank you for your generous support. Your contribution keeps our doors open.