Halloween Mask? No Problem!

It’s Halloween and two of our Raccoon patients were released! These masked juveniles won’t be trick or treating the neighborhoods however. They’ll be strictly wild, thanks to your support!

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There is still time to help us close in on our October goal of $7000 – although time is running out! Hopefully we won’t turn into a pumpkin at midnight!

Click here to support our work!

Help Us Help Our Wild Neighbors

We have a million things to do every day. Patients in care require feeding, bandage changes, check-ups, and the like. Patient housing needs to be cleaned, sometimes several times a day. The phone rings regularly with new tasks waiting on the other end of the line – wildlife rescue, a conflict with a wild animal to resolve, a question. [Please help us close the gap for October! We are over $3000 away from our goal of $7000 this month! Your support is the only thing that will get us there! Donate here, if you can]

pefas-various-7-of-9A young Peregrine Falcon is given rehydrating fluids after an initial exam.


Pools must be maintained. The floor needs to be mopped. Supplies purchased. Bills paid. New volunteers need to be trained. Staff and interns meet to discuss our work and learn.

Caring for wild patients requires many skills. We prepare and deliver workshops and books as part of our mission to advance the quality of care that wild animals can receive. We travel to conferences to work with colleagues from around the state and around the country to learn new skills.

img_3300BAX co-founder Shannon Riggs, DVM instructs workshop attendee at recent California Council for Wildlife Rehabilitators (CCWR) annual symposium.

img_3295BAX co-founder Vann Masvidal in a teaching moment at 2016 CCWR symposium.

dsc_0814BAX co-founders Marie Travers, January Bill, and Vann Masvidal teach a workshop on cleaning oiled marine birds at a workshop we delivered in Morro Bay in 2014.


We follow public policy and proposed legislation that impacts our society’s relationship with nature. We attend public meetings so that we can advocate effectively on behalf of the Wild.

bobcat fortuna blogpost - 1BAX/HWCC staff and volunteers attended the Fish and Game Commission’s meeting in Fortuna where it was decided to ban all Bobcat trapping in our state!

classroom visitOur Wildlife Ambassador birds visit hundreds of school kids of all ages each year with a message of peaceful co-existence with the wild.


These are each important and no matter what the circumstances, must be accomplished. Sure we prioritize when our caseload is large – we don’t schedule trainings and workshops during baby season – we don’t work on book chapters when the pool is full of Western Grebes. Eventually, though, each task is critical to our mission.

Grebes Autumn 2014 story - 01In the winter, our “quiet” season is only a storm away from a major and sudden increase in our patients in care… we need to be ready for this at any time! Functioning pools and a freezer full of fish are mandatory!


And then there is the task that so many of us dread. Yet without success here, all other work comes to a stop – the task of asking you, our neighbors, for help.

We need you. And at this time of year, we need you the most. We still have babies in  care from the summer – nearly two dozen juvenile raccoons!  We have aviaries that need repair and this is the time of year to do it! We have fish bills and water bills and our landlord likes to see a rent check once a month too. Staff must be paid! (or they leave to find a job that does!)

Last Import - 1 of 14Our patients vary greatly in mass, but in spirit each is exactly the same size – infinite.


Food, medicine, electric, water, phone, internet – each of these is mission critical. Even garbage collection costs money!

The only source for money that we can rely on daily, weekly, monthly, yearly is you,

Our largest single project, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center is the only all species wildlife clinic in Northwestern California! We serve a region, one of the wildest in our state, that is larger than New Jersey!

WESO-2016-20HWCC rehabilitator Lucinda Adamson listens for adults while attempting to reunite this juvenile Western Screech-owl with his family.


Right now, perhaps like many, we are struggling to make ends meet. Each month, our mission is made more difficult by this struggle. We need to raise at least $7000 by October 31 and we are only half way there. We need you. Our region needs you. Why? Because our injured, orphaned and threatened wild neighbors need us. Please help. Click here to Donate Now… every little bit helps… big bits help too! Thank you for your support and for your love of wildlife!

Last Import - 3 of 28The real reward of our labor – releasing healthy fully recovered patients, such as this Great Egret (Ardea alba) we treated this summer, back to their free and wild lives.

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We Stand With Standing Rock Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

Since August, news of the people of Standing Rock, North Dakota, a Lakota community (read Standing Rock statement here), who are working to protect their water supply, their livelihoods, their ancestral lands, their scared sites and the integrity of Mother Earth against a pipeline that is being built through their territory without their approval has spread around the world.  Thousands of people have come, some from thousands of miles away, including Ecuador and Northern Europe, to stand with Standing Rock and join the water protectors. (read Standing Rock statement here)

In the course of peacefully defending Mother Earth, protectors have been arrested, pepper-sprayed and tear-gassed, and attacked by trained dogs. Even journalists at the scene have been arrested and charged.

Bird Ally X stands with the courageous and committed protectors of Standing Rock. As wildlife rehabilitators, we are on the frontline of the incessant war that industrial civilization wages against the Wild. We see, each and every day of our lives, the suffering, injury and death that is recklessly and thoughtlessly caused by the machinery of the Anthropocene – Falcons hit by cars, Gulls tangled in derelict fishing gear, Raccoon shot and trapped and their babies orphaned. We see it all: from the Swainson’s Thrush torn apart by a carelessly kept house cat to a Brown Pelican breeding colony washed over in an spilled oil, killing most of the young chicks.

BAX staff have responded acorss the continent to catastrophic oil spills, whether caused by shipping accidents, train derailments or pipeline breaches. We have waded knee-deep through Tar Sands, finding the oil soaked remains of entire families of Common MergansersClark’s Grebes and Common Loons. We’ve pulled 50 year old turtles from oil-wrecked rivers. We’ve been in the dark core of the industrial project and seen the wreckage, the loss, and the pain that Mother Earth and her offspring suffer at the unthinking hand of a machine run amok.

We’ve watched as patient after patient dies. Yet we’ve also stood silently in joy when those we’ve been able to help are restored to their wild and free lives. We’ve seen how our own lives can be used to restore justice each day. We know that direct action, that committed action, saves lives.

Our name is our mission: Bird Ally X. We are in alliance with wild birds. We are in alliance with the wild. We use the word ‘ally’ the way our grandparents would – we are an equally staked partner in the fight. We are not here to help industrial civilization feel better about itself. We are here to fight for the rights of Mother Earth. We treat her offspring when they are injured, orphaned or sickened by the human built world. We help our colleagues who are engaged in the same tasks. We lend our voice to the wild and act on behalf of the preservation of our beautiful, life-giving world. As Henry Thoreau observed, “in wildness is the preservation of the world.”

We are encouraged by the bravery of the Standing Rock community. We stand with Standing Rock and all protectors of Mother Earth. We stand with the Wild.

Learn more here.

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Limited Edition Merganser T-shirt – Art by Laura Corsiglia

Mergansers are awesome ducks. Everyone thinks so! Now you can support our work and show the world your love for these remarkable birds. Celebrating the mysterious beauty of the female Common Merganser, these shirts were printed locally by Blackjack Humboldt taken from original art made by internationally known artist Laura Corsiglia (who happens to be a co-founder and co-director of Bird Ally X! Laura also takes most of our photographs!)

Available in many sizes, the t-shirts are 100% organic cotton. But we have a limited number! We’re offering them for $35! Stop by our clinic in Bayside to get yours! We’re open every day from 9 to 5. Not in the area? Well you can order online (there will be a $4.99 shipping/handling fee)! Just click here.

It’s a thrill to be able to offer these shirts. The original drawing was done as a gift for another co-director but it’s too lovely to keep to ourselves. Vote Merganser!

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A Falcon’s Peregrination Through Recovery

As September drew to a close, on its last Monday, a young Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) was hit by a car on Samoa Boulevard (route 255) near the intersection with V street, just west of Arcata. Samoa is a highway notorious for its danger to our wild neighbors. Every day a casual survey will find the dead body of someone – a raccoon, a gull, a skunk, a coot, or an opossum – and who knows how many small birds are never seen, who’ve been hit and killed and thrown into the vegetation on either side of the road. Samoa Blvd is a ridiculous name for the route – it should be called the Wildlife Watchout.

[We need your help! We are several thousand dollars away from reaching our October goal of $7000! Our work relies completely on your support. If you can, please donate today! Every little bit helps.]

This falcon was spotted, alive, sitting by the side of the road. A kind-hearted man stopped and scooped the world’s fastest animal (242mph in a dive!) and brought him to our Bayside wildlife hospital, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center.

It is thought by some that Peregrine falcons got their name from people who captured them as juveniles who’d wandered from their nest site, since those nests were usually too remote to reach or even find. It’s not very clear if this is the case, and the source material is vague – but if accurate, since the theory alludes to falconry and the practice of stealing wild falcons and keeping them captive, then we have a parallel in our own time and place.

For many of the last several years, a Peregrine falcon pair have nested in high profile location near Eureka. Local birders and ornithologists tried to keep the site a secret to protect the falcon family from falconers who might try to steal a juvenile. As with the centuries old conjectured etymology, it would have been nearly impossible to reach the nest’s location, but as soon as the juveniles fledge (fly from nest for the first time) they would become easy targets. In fact, over the last few years HWCC has often been called in to give one or more of the young falcons a helping hand, since their first flights usually take them into the heart of downtown Eureka.

pefas-various-4-of-9A juvenile Peregrine Falcon in care at HWCC in 2012. This youngsters only problem was that her (or his) first flight from his nest landed her on Eureka’s waterfront. Too young to know better, she was easily picked up by a well-intended person and brought to us. After a day of observation to insure she was in good health, we returned her to her family.  


When we performed this Peregrine falcon’s initial examination, he (presumed male due to smaller stature) was in good health with the exception of a fractured right ulna. As fractures go, this is one of best he could have gotten. Whether bird, human, other mammal, even dinosaur, vertebrates with limbs have ulnas – it’s one of the many clues that we really are all related. The ulna is the thicker of the two bones, the other being the radius, that make up our forearm, extending from elbow to wrist. Since his radius was intact, it formed a natural splint. A couple of weeks spent with his wing immobilized, his ulna had a very good chance of healing – this bird’s prognosis for release was excellent.

pefa-2016-2-of-30Receiving  medicine during initial examination.


Keeping a fierce, wild being in a small enclosure for 2 to 3 weeks is risky – especially for the wild being. While his prognosis for recovery was good, in captivity, anything can happen – accidents with the housing, stress-related trauma – nearly every advance in the husbandry of our patients that rehabilitators have made has come at the cost of patient’s life. So with this in mind we provided a perch that would prevent pressure sores on the bottoms of his feet that can develop when a bird is grounded. We housed him in a soft-sided pen to prevent injuries to his unwrapped wing.  We kept him isolated from our noise and commotion to reduce the stress of being unable to put the distance between that he would have greatly preferred.

Every so often we checked the fracture site in order to track the healing process. At last, after 18 days, the fracture was stable with a well formed calloused around the break. We removed the wrap and moved the falcon to an outdoor aviary. To our great pleasure, he immediately burst into flight. All that was needed at this point was some time in the aviary for him to regain any lost strength and for us to make observations that let us know he would be fine upon release.

After 25 days in care, the falcon was ready to go.

pefa-2016-4-of-30Trying to evade the net while being captured for his release evaluation. 

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pefa-2016-12-of-30Thinking outside the box!

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pefa-2016-29-of-30A new volunteer on her first release – these moments are the joy of our work.

pefa-2016-30-of-30… back into wild, blue yonder …


While we wish every patient who’d been hit by a car that we treat could have such an awesome outcome, the truth is that it’s rare that anyone survives such an impact. But for wild animals, without someone stopping to get them help, and without people like you who support our work, none who are injured would survive. If not for you, this bird, and every other patient we admit, would have been an uncounted statistic of the damage to nature caused by civilization. Thank you for your support!

Want to contribute? Click here!

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All photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX

 

Raising Common Murre Chicks in a Changing World

All along the west coast of North America, on the rocks and cliffs of the crumbling edge, Common Murres (Uria aalge), elegant seabirds with a large local population, gather each Spring to mate and raise their young. Highly dependent on the cold nutrient-rich waters of the California Current, these birds are strictly fish eaters, diving to depths of 180 meters and maybe deeper*, using their wings to “fly” beneath the waves to catch their prey.

Common Murres leave their nest site long before they are fully grown or independent. Jumping from the rocky cliffs, the young seabirds join a parent, almost always their father, at sea to continue feeding, growing and learning. For over 20 million years, Common Murres (also known as Common Guillemots) have lived in this manner, through the ice ages, the warmings, and the shifts in coastline and habitat that have occurred.

[We are in the middle of our October fundraiser and need your help, urgently. We must raise $7000 by the 31st! We are still several thousand dollars away. Please support wildlife rehabilitation and advocacy for the wild on the North Coast and beyond! Click here to donate now.]

Our world is wild. We can’t really say that one part is more or less wild than another, but certainly we can say that the ocean, in the best of times, is a challenging environment. In our current age, the age of human interference with natural cycles so severe that impacts are seen at the planetary scale, the challenges may be insurmountable.

So while it has been normal in each year for Humboldt Wildlife Care Center to admit 30 to 40 Common Murre chicks during the months of July, August and September, due to the a wide assortment of causes, we knew something was amiss when this Summer we admitted only 6 young birds. Just as our typical season of raising orphaned Murre chicks began – late June and early July – it also ended.

img_3454A very young Common Murre, on admission day, rests in our incubator, exhausted and nearly starved to death.

dsc_3565After warming up, a full examination is performed. Supplements, such as vitmain B, and anti-parasitical drugs are given.

dsc_3570Each chick is given an identification band so that we can accurately track her or his progress.

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dsc_3551Common Murres are colony-nesters and housing them with others helps ease the stress of captive care.


Our patients this year came in very young – each of them was well under 200 grams which is approximately their weight at the time when they usually leave the nest.  As you can imagine, a young bird without a parent floating across the coastal waters of the North pacific will be in pretty rough shape by the time she or he is beached. Very thin, dehydrated and close to death, we immediately provide supportive care – fluids and warmth.

It’s a tough thing, having a setback like this at such a young age, and not every orphan will survive. Th early days of care are the worst, and we lost two within their first 24 hours of treatment. In the end, of the 6, we released 3. They spent over two moths with us, first housed indoors under a heat lamp and then moving outdoors to our newly built saltwater pool.

dsc_4441In our newly built seabird pool. Magnetic-drive pumps, unlike most swimming pool pumps, allow us to switch between fresh and saltwater, as the needs of our patients dictates.

dsc_4439Each bird ate nearly 50 night smelt each day. Over the course of two months, that’s a lot of fish!


2016 on our coast was a bad year for Common Murres. There simply hasn’t been enough fish. Lack of fish, leads directly to fewer young seabirds. Common Murres are long lived and can absorb the occasional bad year. If fish populations recover, so will they recover. But current conditions don’t seem to be signs that we are living in a time of recovery.

Agricultural runoff introduces nitrogen in to the sea which increases the frequency of harmful algal blooms. Plastics and other garbage pollutants wreak havoc on the food chain. Overfishing depletes the ocean of the resources which all species depend on to survive and thrive. Rising ocean temperatures as a part of anthropogenic (i.e., human-caused) climate change are destroying the web of life as it has evolved over the vast fabric of time. We have no idea which species will survive, or what the outcome will be for “the wheel’s still in spin.”

Still, for the birds that we admitted, prompt care and proper facilities (provided by your support!) allowed them to recover and be released back to their wild and free lives… which come with no guarantees.

We may not know what our future holds – this has always been true – but we do know that, no matter how much damge there is – no matter the extent of the injuries that we cause – we owe to Mother Earth and all her residents the best possible care for the victims of human industry, human carelessness and human indifference. We do what we can with what we have and without you, we’d have nothing.

 

dsc_4728Volunteer staff takes our three Common Murre patients to the bay for release.

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dsc_4732As birds who spend nearly their entire lives on water, they don’t walk very well. We place them directly in the bay.

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dsc_4765We do what we can. Yes it feels good to help. It’s one of the ways that we know that helping is the right thing to do.

dsc_4760Paddling out to deeper waters to join others out beyond the old formation. From 150 gram babies to nearly grown adults  over 900 grams, this is the second chance that you provided with your support.


Your support means the difference between these birds dying on a beach and getting a second chance. Please help. We need to raise $7000 before the end of October. Help us help our wild neighbors. Click here to Donate Now. Thank you!
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All photos: Laura Corsiglia/ Bird Ally X

 

*Diving Depths of Four Alcids (1984)Piatt, John F.; Nettleship, David N.

Orphaned Raccoons Re-Enter the Real.

From admission as small 160 gram babies with their eyes still closed, to fierce and hefty predators weighing in at over 3 kilograms (metric converter) is a long process. The orphaned raccoons that we admit at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center are in care for four months or longer, while they develop, grow, and learn the skills they’ll need for their wild and free lives

As the Fall season swings into high gear, we’ve begun the process of weekly checks to determine who might be ready for release. Last week we did our first round. (Be sure to check out the photos and scroll to the end for video!)

[check out this story from last year’s raccoon release – awesome video of a young female catching a fish her fist time in the river!]

dsc_4389Orphaned raccoons in care learn that fish is found in the water, that bugs are found in the dirt, that fruit is found in trees, and that eggs are found in nests – all things they would have learned from their mother. 

dsc_4569Next comes the real river!

dsc_4512It’s healthy to approach new things with caution! A young raccoon takes her time leaving the crate. The wild is much bigger than any of us dream.

dsc_4500The gravel floor of our raccoon housing is made of river bed, just like this river’s bed. Everything is made of the wild.

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[We have plenty of expenses from our busy summer season still to be paid. Please help! We need to raise $7000 this month to stay in the black. Your love for the wild and your generous support makes our work possible. Click here to donate now.]

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dsc_4541After exploring independently, these two meet up in the river to compare notes. 

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dsc_4557Off they go, into their real destiny.

Here is a five minute video of the release:

There is a kind of intelligence that can be easily found in our universe. A striped tail intelligence, curious, adventurous, playful – an intelligence that connects rivers with constellations and finds morsels under any leaf – a furred, masked, happy intelligence that knows what to do with a mushroom or an egg – a four-handed intelligence that sings water’s praises and wants nothing but freedom and a safe place to nurse her young. Any Raccoon is the living embodiment of this intelligence  a generous and congenial way to navigate all that the real offers. When we consider all points of view, all perspectives, when we make decisions, when we plan our lives, we are foolish to ignore this wisdom. We are lucky to share this world with an intelligence like Raccoon.

Your support makes our work possible. Please help. Donate what you can, every little bit helps.

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All photos: BAX/Laura Corsiglia – video: Lucinda Adamson/BAX

Bald Eagle, Lead Poisoning, and the legacy of Industrial Civilization.

On a late Friday afternoon at the end of March, our wildlife clinic in Bayside, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, got a call about a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Some folks who live in a remote part of Humboldt, near the Lost Coast, had seen him (since he was on on the small side for an adult eagle we presumed male) sitting all day on a river bar. Their dog had even approached and the typically fierce bird was only able to fly to a low nearby perch. They called in their dog, and then they called us.

The next morning staff made the trip to the site on the Bear River. The eagle was still there.

[Your support makes our work possible! Help us meet our October goal of $7000. Click here to make a contribution today!

After a relatively easy capture and the long drive back, upon examination we realized that we had a very sick bird in our care. Lethargic, now unable to stand, and very weak, we initially suspected an all-too-common killer of raptors across the state: rodenticide.

baea-care-2-of-13Transporting back to our clinic, even in poor health the eagle is a wary observer.


It’s not a bad guess. According to a study conducted by colleagues in Marin County at WildCare, well over 70% of the wildlife from across the San Francisco Bay Area tests positive for exposure to anti-coagulant rodenticides. Although some sales of over-the-counter rodenticide were banned recently, these poisons still make it into the wild and their legacy will be with us for a long time.

Although this eagle has likely been exposed to rodenticide, that wasn’t his problem. After a few days in care, we observed that his feces was a dark, fluorescent green. This nearly always indicates another toxin that is also a major threat to wild animals: lead poisoning. In 2006, over 50% of the sick eagles brought in to care in Iowa suffered from lead poisoning.¹

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baea-care-8-of-13A sick patient needs nutrition. We make sure they get it.


A trip to the veterinarian for radiographs and blood tests confirmed our suspicions. A pellet lodge in his throat and high levels of lead in his blood. We immediately started the eagle on medication that binds with the toxic metal and removes it from the blood stream. We believe that the pellet was ingested rather than the result of being shot, since it was passed after a short time.

A hunter using lead ammunition shoots an animal, who evades capture, carrying the lead ammo in her body, and dies elsewhere, only to be found by a scavenger, such as an eagle. When a scavenger eats the dead body the toxin kills another, unless someone intervenes.

Lead-based ammunition has been banned in the US for hunting waterfowl (ducks, geese, etc) since 1991.² California recently began to phase out all lead ammunition because of its role in secondary wildlife deaths, but a complete ban does not go into effect until 2019.

baea-care-6-of-13These feet are formidable! We take precautions with all patients, no matter how sick.


baea-care-5-of-13Our patient is at his worst. Fortunately he began to recover within a few days after getting the right medication.


Our patient was very ill. For the first few days of treatment we were unsure if he would survive one day to the next. On top of his lead poisoning, the eagle suffered an upper respiratory infection.  We gave him antibiotics along with his other medicine. We provided warmth. We provided safety. The eagle provided the will to live and the strength to endure. After five days in care he began to eat.

Often, although not always, the mark of a corner turned is the return of an appetite. His prognosis went from ‘guarded’ to ‘cautiously optimistic’.

After a few weeks, each course of medicine completed, we entered the long phase of recovery. Emaciated on admission, his weight had been rising slowly and steadily. Still very thin, and still relatively weak, we were able to move the eagle to outdoor housing, where he could perch, eat and begin to recover his strength in much greater privacy. Stress is a serious health risk to all patients, but especially for wild ones, who not only must contend with captivity but also the daily presence of caregivers who they regard as threats to their very lives.

baea-care-10-of-13A mighty eagle reduced to hiding in the aviary’s bushes might seem sad, but to staff, this is a photo of sure recovery.


Slow progress is still progress. It’s an important part of rehabilitation. We watch closely, from afar. Any sign of imporvement is noted. Stasis, or worse, decline, is also noted. If the patient is improving, we proceed. If not, we  consider changines to the treatment plan. If we have a songbird who’d been hit by a car that can’t stand or move her legs? well, if each day she exhibits signs of sensation returning, we are given hope that recovery is possible. It seems obvious, but it’s not. We train to make observations. We learn a language of care that allows us to note small, incremental improvements precisely. Exactitude in our work saves lives.

baea-care-13-of-13Our patient had been in care for over two months before he was able to mount this perch!


Slowly, our eagle patient became more alert. Small things let us know that a full recovery was likely, like following our movement when we brought food into his aviary, or the vigor with which he stepped up to his perch. In time we added higher perching, so that he’d have to jump. And then higher still, so that he’d have to fly. And we fed him everyday. For six months his slow gains mounted until at last, he was recovered. His respiratory infection had cleared.  He was flying with strength across his his housing. His blood work was excellent. Six months nearly to the day from his rescue, we took him back to a ridge above the river where he’d been found, near death.

This eagle got lucky. It’s no accident that he was injured. Industrial society has set traps as insidious as lead ammunition for a couple hundred years, at least. People need nature to live, yet our industries find Mother Earth and all her children to be either a source of capital, or an obstacle. Think of how coal mining jargon refers to the tops of mountains, the forests, the wild neighbors who call them home, as “overburden.” And even should we stop the machineries of death, the legacy of industry will linger in our environment, our home, for centuries to come – killing, injuring, displacing.

No, his poisoning was no accident – the accident, the twist of fate, is that he was found by caring, compassionate people who took steps to see that he got the treatment he deserved. And hopefully, we and our children and our grandchildren will always be there, ready to help those who we and our ancestors have harmed with our short-sighted schemes that have left perennial threats.

Every patient we admit is treated with dignity, no matter the species, no matter the injury. Every patient whose care we commit to is given the best we can give – whether  a Bald Eagle or a Pacific Wren – a Mallard or a Gray Fox. And the care we are able to provide is directly the result of the support that you provide. Thank you for making it possible for us to help this Bald Eagle, and all of our patients, recover from the injuries our industrial society cause, and get the second chance that they deserve.

baea-rel-1-of-15His ability to burst into flight like this took months to recover: this was a happy day!


The following photos are the sequence of his release! 
baea-rel-8-of-15Staff rehabilitator, Lucinda Adamson opens the carrier.


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baea-rel-14-of-15Released back to his home! A powerful bird, restored. At the bottom of this valley is the river where he was found.


Your support makes our work possible. We operate on the slimmest of margins, in a constant struggle to provide quality care. Want to help? Please donate today! Thank you!

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All photos Bird Ally X/ Laura Corsiglia

  1. https://www.iowadnr.gov/…/eagles_lead.pdf
  2. http://articles.latimes.com/1986-06-27/sports/sp-20586_1_lead-shot

Bird Ally X Celebrates Seventh Anniversary!

Seven years ago, six wildlife rehabilitators*, friends and colleagues, began meeting to develop a workshop on aquatic bird care geared toward other rehabilitators. Each had worked extensively with aquatic birds, including providing care for large numbers at once during catastrophic events such as oil spills, harmful algal blooms, and disease outbreaks, such as avian botulism, that can be driven by environmental conditions like drought.

As one of the six, I can tell you that our primary motivation was to help make certain that hard-won knowledge didn’t end with specialization – that life-saving knowledge spread through our profession.

Across our state, our region, our continent and the world, wildlife rehabilitators work, often alone, with whatever species winds up on their doorstep. Knowledge of aquatic bird care at that time was mostly centralized, in the hands of experts – experts who had learned at the cost of many lost wild lives, experts who had access to money provided by oil companies legally bound to pay for damages (wildlife casualties) they’d caused.

We knew first-hand that many rehabilitators didn’t have the experience or the education to provide quality care for aquatic birds. Often rehabilitators sought help, advice and instruction – mostly they were encouraged to transfer their patients to expert with the knowledge, and even more importantly, the facilities to treat these patients with such unique needs.

It wasn’t long before we realized that our goal was much larger than a workshop could accomplish. Even seven years ago, it was easy to see that our future was quite rocky. Climate disruption, conflict with the oil empire, rising disparity in wealth – our world was clearly in turmoil.

It seems easy to imagine that funding for aquatic bird rehabilitation might evaporate, especially as coastal cities would be forced to divert resources toward infrastructure to cope with rising seas, as well as other consequences of our industrial age. In short, if whole oceans are dying, who will pay for the rehabilitation of marine animals such as Common Murres or Brown Pelicans.

On September 22, 2009, Bird Ally X was conceived in turmoil and hatched as a remedy.

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Bird Ally X delivered our first workshop in 2010, An Introduction to Aquatic Bird Rehabilitation. Initially, workshop attendees were given a 50-page booklet as  part of the course. By 2012, that booklet had been expanded to become our currently available book also titled, An Introduction to Aquatic Bird Rehabilitation. We’ve now delivered the workshop to hundred of rehabilitators around the country. Over the last seven years we’ve produced additional classes and workshops on different components of aquatic bird care, as well as focusing on different species of aquatic birds and their particular needs in care. We’ve developed workshops on the ethics of wildlife rehabilitation, on housing for wild patients, as well as being effective at helping people over the phone resolve perceived conflicts with their wild neighbors peacefully. We’ve produced materials for co-existing with aquatic birds and other wildlife for Federal and State agencies as well as our general community.

Many of our co-founders have served and still do as volunteer board members for state and national professional rehabilitation associations. Being able to work with our colleagues around the state and country to improve wildlife care as well as provide information that rehabilitators need and seek is an important part of our mission.

During this time, we have continued in our daily work of wildlife rehabilitation, either as staff at other organizations, on emergency response efforts around the continent, as well as producing educational and advocacy materials for collaborative  efforts with other organizations and government agencies.

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Fishwaste Poster

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In 2014, Bird Ally X launched an online petition aimed at the United States Department of Agriculture’s highly controversial Wildlife Services, a shadowy, unaccountable program that is a sort of secret police against wild animals. The petition received over 175,000 signatures!

50k!!!

 

However five years ago we added to our mission in a significant way.

In 2011, with 3 of 6 co-founders living in Humboldt County, we were tipped off that young Brown Pelicans were sighted, contaminated, soaking wet and struggling at the public boat launch in Crescent City, about 90 miles north of Humboldt Bay. we investigated and discovered that not only were there young Pelicans in trouble in Crescent city, but all along the North Cast from Shelter Cove into Oregon. Since it was late in the fishing season, the problem soon ended for the year, but not before we’d rescued, cleaned and rehabilitated over 50 Pelicans who’d been contaminated by fish waste.

d1ca8-forupdate-6Fish waste going directly into the ocean at the public boat launch in Shelter Cove, California. Brown Pelicans and other birds were contaminated directly by this unorthodox waste disposal. 

In order to meet that challenge, Bird Ally X partnered with the local wildlife care center, who we’d been assisting in small ways for years. With the facility they had in Bayside, we built the necessary infrastructure to take care of aquatic birds in Humboldt County – allowing for the first time in HWCC history for injured aquatic birds to remain in the region to receive care! That partnership led to BAX assuming HWCC as part of our organization, as of 2013. Now HWCC is the largest single aspect of our efforts. We treat over 1200 wild patients each year, and work every day of the year to provide humane conflict resolution for thousands of other neighbors human and wild.
Humboldt Wildlife Care Center

Now, after seven years, we are still seeking new avenues to reach our colleagues and our community to improve the lives and  care for injured and orphaned wild animals, to partner with other organizations so that we can prevent injuries in the first place (an ounce of prevention!!). Our work is far from complete. With the addition of HWCC to our organization we have a working lab for developing affordable and achievable techniques and solutions to the problems of shoestring-budget wildlife rehabilitation. We have an internship program that allows us to train the next generation of wildlife rehabilitators.

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We have an education program that brings a message of humane co-existence to classrooms and organizations across our diverse community.

Public presentation, Trever and Miranda
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And most importantly, we have the capacity to provide care and save wild lives. As we continue to grapple with the dictates of our work and strategize the future of our efforts, I’d like to close this retrospective with the most important part of the last seven years – the support we’ve received and the wild neighbors we’ve helped!

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red crossbill release June 2014 - 2

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*the six are – Shannon Riggs, DVM; January Bill; Vann Masvidal; Marie Travers; Laura Corsiglia; Monte Merrick

All  images belong to Bird Ally X, thanks!