Field Stabilization Level 2 Training at WildCare

I want to thank and congratulate the talented group of 21, highly motivated rehabilitators who traveled to San Rafael this past weekend to participate in a Field Stabilization Level 2 training hosted by WildCare. Folks had the opportunity to work on teams with staff, volunteers, RVTs and veterinarians from four different organizations: (Bird AllyX, International Bird Rescue, NOAA, and the Peninsula Humane Society). As you might guess, such a wealth of experience & diversity fostered many interesting discussions which added to the good time that was had by all.

Field Stabilization Level 2 training at WildCare. Fun in the classroom! Photo credit: Melanie Piazza

Field Stabilization Level 2 training at WildCare. Fun in the classroom! Photo credit: Melanie Piazza

I also want to send special thanks Melanie Piazza and her wonderful staff & volunteers for providing Starbucks coffee to start the day off “right” and for the yummy chips and salsa that provided a much needed energy boost in the late afternoon.

Completion of Field Stabilization Level 2 training is  required for all people that will be working at a mobile Field Stabilization (FS) Center during oil spills and for those assigned to management level positions at brick and mortar facilities. This training focuses on familiarizing personnel with paperwork and organizational schemes for the MASH (Mobile Avian Stabilization Hospital), so they will be able to provide efficient and consistent stabilization care to hundreds of oiled birds even given the restrictions in space and resources that are inherent to working out of a trailer. If you are interested in becoming a Field Stabilization responder and you belong to a Member Organization or Affiliated Agency, please contact Nancy Anderson for further information (

Field Stabilization Level 2 participants posing with the MASH (Mobile Avian Stabilization Hospital). Photo credit: Melanie Piazza

Field Stabilization Level 2 participants posing with the MASH (Mobile Avian Stabilization Hospital). Photo credit: Melanie Piazza

Inside the MASH. Photo credit: Melanie Piazza

Inside the MASH. Photo credit: Melanie Piazza


Restoration of the Gulf

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported today that the state of Louisiana has selected five projects that it will ask the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council to fund. The Council is made up of federal and Gulf Coast state officials, and they have the ability to fund restoration projects using the fines paid by the companies involved in the 2010 Gulf spill. Other states and Indian tribes will also be submitting proposals.

It’s always interesting to me to read about restoration projects, since they sometimes seem far removed from the original problem. For example, the projects Louisiana are proposing include  creating dunes and reefs. Dunes and reefs weren’t directly removed by the oil spill, but we can’t necessarily “fix” the specific harm caused by a spill. Restoration projects instead are designed to simply improve the habitat.

Restoration projects are an important way that we can help the environment–and by extension, all the species in it–that are degraded by our activities, whether they be disastrous but discrete incidents like oil spills, or just every day, gradual insults such as erosion, overfishing, or climate change. For this reason, during an oil spill response we need to be assiduous in collecting evidence (i.e., processing oil-affected animals) because it is this evidence that allows the government to levy fines and raise funds for restoration projects.

It’s unknown yet which projects will be selected for funding, but I’m sure all of them are worthy attempts at restoring the beautiful and fragile Gulf ecosystem. As humans, we often cause environmental damage, but we can also attempt to ameliorate it. Let’s hope that in the decades to come, the restoration projects tip the balance!


Thank you PWC!

IMG_2122Recently, Becky, Stephanie, Tim, and I descended on Morro Bay to do some hands-on OWCN training for our fabulous volunteers on the Central Coast. Marcelle, Jeanette, and the rest of the folks at Pacific Wildlife Care were incredible hosts, and we had a great time.

Marie from Bird Ally X joined us to teach a Pre-release Conditioning lab. We also had my extern, University of Pennsylvania veterinary student (and long-time rehabber) Michele, assist me with the Avian Intake & Processing and Seabird Necropsy labs. Stephanie taught her first Pre-wash Care lab outside in the tent. Tim, of course, helped out in a variety of ways, including putting up the tent! Becky spent most of the day in front of a couple of laptops, getting volunteers into our the new OWCN responder database.

Rain was in the forecast and given the drought, we couldn’t hope that it *wouldn’t* rain! But we were relieved when the rain did not in any way disrupt the training :-). IMG_2104

One of the best parts of the day was seeing several marine mammal volunteers jumping right in to learn about avian response. Birds may not be their “thing,” but as dedicated wildlife responders, they explained that they want to be trained to help wherever they are needed. That is the OWCN spirit!

Marcelle organized a delicious lunch and the entire PWC staff was incredibly welcoming, even though they were overwhelmed with grebes and working harder than ever. Thanks to everyone who participated, and a special thank you to PWC’s staff and volunteers. We love the Central Coast!


Calling all creative critter caretakers

OK, so I’m not a real poet. But I am betting that most of you are way more creative than I am!

So I want to invite any of you who want to share your creative side to use this blog as a means to convey your thoughts or insights about wildlife rehabilitation with images or words.

Any format goes. The idea is to share your passion for caring about animals with folks that feel the same way.

Just to provide a little jump start, I’ll share some Haiku. Why Haiku? Because I can handle a format that just requires: 1st line = 5 syllables, 2nd line = 7 syllables, 3rd line = 5 syllables.

…And it’s short, so you don’t have to read too much of my writing. However, I’m sure you can do much better!

Title: Loon, murre or orca?

  • Liquid silver voice
  • Strong in ocean not on land
  • Black and white beauty

Title: Oiled bird’s journey

  • So cold, beached, hungry…
  • Hands, towel, tube, soap, pools, fish
  • Freedom! Home, sweet home!

…And for those who prefer visual art, I’ll share one photo image.

Harbor seal pup

Harbor seal pup: Convinced he needs some more fish!

I know we have some GREAT photographers and painters out there. I’m sure we would all enjoy admiring some of your artwork.

So, I sincerely invite you will share with us a small bit of the joy, passion and wonder that keeps you working with wildlife.


OWCN Responder Database

better impactThe OWCN is excited to announce that we have begun rolling out our new online responder database!  This database, created through Better Impact, will allow every OWCN responder to have a personal account where they can update contact information, see a history of training events they have taken, and sign up for new trainings, such as webinars and the 8-hr HAZWOPER refresher.

Mark Garman and Richard Grise create new accounts in the database during the Pacific Wildlife Care workshop last weekend.

Mark Garman and Richard Grise create new accounts in the database during the Pacific Wildlife Care workshop last weekend.

In the coming weeks we will be contacting and/or visiting each OWCN Member Organization to begin the process of transferring each volunteer into this new database.  Once that process is complete we will send out an announcement to everyone letting you know that you can start using your new account.  We look forward to providing all our volunteers with a tool that will allow for faster communication, easy access to trainings, and a streamlined process of assigning volunteers to shifts during spills.  To learn more about the Better Impact software, you can visit their website by clicking here.


New Webinars!

Western Pacific Leatherback Turtle.  Photo Credit: Heather Harris

Western Pacific Leatherback Turtle. Photo Credit: Heather Harris

The OWCN has added three new webinars to our Special Topic library.  Each of these is presented as a recording and is available now (please see the OWCN contacts at your Member Organization for registration links).

Our new webinars include:

  • Sea Turtles: Natural History & Oil Spill Response
  • Avian Gavaging Technique
  • What is Normal: Spotting Trouble During Wildlife Recovery
Common murre

Common murre

Just a reminder that our Special Topic webinars are for continuing education for our existing volunteers that have previously been involved with our webinar series.  Brand new volunteers should begin with our Core webinar series, that contains introduction to spill response webinars.

If you have any questions, please contact me at


It’s That Time of Year Again!

“What time of year again?”, you ask yourself. The answer, of course, is HAZWOPER! June and November are the two months a year that we offer free online re-certification to staff and volunteers at our member organizations and affiliated agencies. Because we have been doing this for a couple of years already, many people are on “a schedule”, which has the huge advantage of making it easier to remember when it is time to re-certify. If you are due for an 8-hr HAZWOPER Refresher, you have roughly two weeks (until October 31) to send me an email to let me know you would like to take this online training.

Just a reminder, to stay current with your HAZWOPER training (and to be able to respond in the event of a spill), you need to take an 8-hr HAZWOPER Refresher once a year. If you don’t re-certify within 24 months of your last HAZWOPER, you will need to re-take the entire 24-hr HAZWOPER class (that’s 3 days, folks!), which is no fun for anyone, so please don’t forget to re-certify within a year, every year. Being HAZWOPER-trained is required for people that work in the field (Wildlife Recovery and Hazing), and is required for filling staff level positions, both in the field and at a facility.

I have already heard from 70 of you, but if you haven’t already, please email me if you would like to sign up for the November 8-hr HAZWOPER Refresher (  If you are a new volunteer, I will send you a form that you will need to fill out prior to being accepted for taking our trainings.  We also have to have records of your original 24-hr HAZWOPER or your latest 8-hr HAZWOPER Refresher (if you didn’t take them through OWCN), before allowing you to register for this training.