Storm-tossed Gull Finds Freedom on Christmas Day

Every day, whether weekday, weekend, or important national or cultural holiday, is still a day in the modern world for our wild neighbors – and that’s why Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is open every day of the year.

This morning, besides for the regular care our patients receive – bedding changes, food, medicine, regular exams – we admitted a new patient, a Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus) who had been caught by the family cat, and we cleared this Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens) for release!

Over the past two weeks of wild weather, our wildlife clinic’s list of patients has leaned heavily toward marine birds – Gulls, Grebes, Loons, Scoters – several of each have passed through our care over the last 14 days.

Found in an Arcata backyard after a night of heavy rain and high winds, this disoriented gull was brought in two days ago.  After an exam we found no injuries, or any other physical problems – so we held the beautiful bird for observation and flight testing. At this morning’s check, the gull had eaten all of the fish we’d offered and was flying laps around the large aviary. We decided that captivity was doing this guy no good at all. During an enjoyable break in the winter weather, the gull was released this afternoon.

GWGU release 12:25:15 - 01HWCC Rehabilitator, Lucinda Adamson releases Glaucous-winged Gull at Arcata Marsh, Christmas day. 

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GWGU release 12:25:15 - 09

GWGU release 12:25:15 - 15One of our happiest sights, a released patient moving quickly away from us back into the Wild.

When a neighbor calls us on Christmas day because she or he has found an injured animal, often we are thanked repeatedly for being here, for being open. On days like today, when our work’s value is so easy to see, it’s really we who are thankful – thankful for our wild neighbors who make our world so companionable, thankful to be able to help them when they are in need, and thankful to you and your generous support which makes our work possible.

All Photos: Laura Corsiglia/Bird Ally X


Freedom’s Greetings!

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Season’s Greetings Friend of Wildlife!

Each year, as our days dip toward night and we turn toward interior pleasures with our families and friends, we have an opportunity to celebrate our past year, revel in our victories, and honor our losses.

In 2015, our wildlife ambassadors have gone to over a hundred schools and groups to promote co-existence with our natural world. We’ve helped more than 5000 callers with a wildlife concern. At Humboldt Wildlife Care Center we have treated nearly 1100 injured and orphaned wild neighbors.

Not every case ends as we wish, of course. Many patients are too severely injured to be successfully rehabilitated. We honor their memory. We redouble our efforts to help eliminate causes of injury.

And thankfully many of our patients do get a second chance!

Like the Gray Fox on this card: Brought to us on a Sunday morning in late Summer, this beautiful and fierce adult had her head caught in a hard plastic cup. Whether some kind of trap or a terrible accident, her predicament had been caused by people. Unable to hunt, she’d nearly starved.

We cut away the cup, treated her wounds, and provided her safe-haven so that her health could recover. When she’d nearly doubled in weight and was raring to go, she was released back to her wild and free life. And one small injustice among the daunting environmental challenges of our time was righted.

That’s how we work, case by case, life by life.

This season of gratitude and appreciation, we thank you for your support and for your love for all that is wild. Thank you for helping us give this fox and all our patients a second chance!

We wish you a happy season, a joyful solstice and prosperous new year. We look forward to another year of meeting our mission with your continued support


In alliance with the wild,
the Staff and Volunteers of Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center




BAX Staff Activated by Oiled Wildlife Care Network

Last Saturday a truck hauling diesel fuel wrecked on US 101, near Big Lagoon in Northern Humboldt County. It was reported that approximately 1000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked  from the overturned trailer and some of that made into the waterway. Diesel fuel is unlike crude oil or less refined fuels – it evaporates quickly but it also kills more quickly – causing severe respiratory injuries and skin burns.

At first, it was believed that all of the spilled fuel had been contained and that none of our wild neighbors had been impacted. However, early Monday morning, local Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel spotted two Ruddy Ducks that appeared to be contaminated by diesel.

By Monday afternoon BAX staff along with other responders from CDFW and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) were in the field searching for any wild animals impacted by the spill.

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Lucinda Adamson, BAX/HWCC wildlife rehabilitator at the Big Lagoon spill last week.  (photo: Bird Ally X)

Big Lagoon Spill 2015 - 2

BAX responder, Elissa Blair surveys Big Lagoon early in the morning searching for oiled wildlife.   (photo: Bird Ally X)

By late Wednesday, no live oiled animals had been found. One dead Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) was found that was later confirmed to be oiled.

One death is too many. And no doubt there were other wild animals not found who were killed by the diesel. Still, this could have been much worse. Big Lagoon is a naturally attractive waterfowl area, with thousands of birds of many species using it as a winter home. Perhaps fortunately, the Lagoon breached over the weekend as well and the water level fell considerably, possibly helping dissipate the petro-toxin. As the saying goes, the solution to pollution is dilution.

Instead of a major disaster we experienced a trial under live fire – which we can use to improve our capabilities and insure preparedness for any future accidents or spills. Preparedeness is the first and most important step toward meeting the mission of the OWCN.

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network is a little known agency in California – jointly administered by UC Davis’ Wildlife Health Center and an oilspill-specific department within CDFW, the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR)* – that is unique in our country and maybe even the world – a network of universities, agencies and wildlife care providers dedicated to providing the “best achievable capture and care of oil-affected wildlife.” The OWCN has nearly 40 member organizations and several primary care facilities purpose-built for large scale spill responses all along the California coast.

BAX was founded by wildlife rehabilitators and spill responders who each have a long history with the OWCN. We’ve worked hard to bring HWCC up to the standards required to be a member organization. When oil spills here in our backyard or anywhere in California (as we saw last Spring in Santa Barbara), BAX staff can be mobilized to provide whatever help is needed.

If you’re interested in becoming a qualified oiled wildlife responder, volunteering with us at our Bayside clinic is an excellent first step!

And as always, it is your support that makes our work possible. Thank you for your generosity and for your love for the Wild!



* the alphabet soup gets thick fast! Basically UCD-WHC with CDFW-OSPR runs the OWCN of which HSU-MWCC and HWCC/BAX are members, or just read the story above and let the acronyms dissolve into eternity….


Rent Party! Saturday December 12, 7pm

Our annual volunteer appreciation party and fundraiser to help defray the costs of Humboldt Wildlife Care Center’s annual rent.

Music! Dance! Poetry!


Synapsis aerial dancers!

Musical perfomances by

Rob DiPerna!
Morgan Corviday!
Medicine Baul!

Refreshments for young and old!

$20 admission. Help us meet our mission and help us acknowledge and thank our dedicated volunteers!