Have You Seen Me?

Green-banded (as well as blue-banded) pelicans are out there and we need your help in reporting them!  The green-banded birds are the Brown Pelicans that were brought to the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center during the Refugio Oil Spill. They were subsequently washed, rehabilitated, and released. And we want to follow them as much as we can and find out how they do. This is where YOU come in! This information is very important for figuring out what happens to these pelicans after they are released. Where do they go? What do they do? Do they survive? Do they breed successfully? These are just some of the questions that we would like to answer. There are very few studies out there that have successfully followed animals after an oil spill. And yet this type of information is crucial for helping determine the best care of oiled animals.

Refugio Spill pelican with a green band. (Photo by Mike Harris).

Refugio Spill pelican with a green band. (Photo by Mike Harris).

So if you see a pelican wearing some green jewelry (see picture), please report it here.

International Bird Rescue also bands pelicans that go through rehabilitation, but they band them with blue bands. If you see a pelican with a blue band, please report it here.

By reporting pelicans with colored bands, you will be contributing to expand the body of knowledge of what happens to animals after they are released.

Thank you in advance!


Oilapalooza 2015

Oilapalooza registration is now open, and will remain open through August 31st!

Oilapalooza lectures will be taking place in Emeryville, CA at the Hilton Garden Inn on October 17, with labs at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center the following day (18th).  Lecture and hands-on labs will be available on diverse topics such as Refugio Response Recap, Inland Response Techniques, and current research in the oiled wildlife response field.

In order to sign up, you must be a registered OWCN responder affiliated with one of our Member Organizations or affiliated agencies.  You must complete all four Core Webinars before you can register for the conference; some labs will require additional prerequisites, which you will have until August 31st to complete.  Log into your responder profile and go to the sign-up tab to register today.

We look forward to seeing you all in Emeryville!


Welcome, Scott!

scott bottle feeding blackwolf csl

Scott bottle-feeding a California Sea Lion.

The OWCN is happy to introduce the newest addition to our team, Scott Buhl!  Scott comes to us with a variety of experience, most recently having worked for almost 6 years at The Marine Mammal Center, filling various roles during that time (including Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, and Volunteer Resources Manager).

I would like to share a glimpse into who Scott is, by sharing some of his responses during a recent conversation I had with him.

What inspires you to do what you do?

When asked this question, without hesitation, Scott answered that his love of the ocean has been instrumental in guiding his studies and chosen career path. He is a native California kid, having grown up in the San Diego area, visiting SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo countless times during his childhood. He also spent time along the Central coast and graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology. Since then he has worked for various organizations that share a common theme: ocean and animals.

What do you do on weekends?

Scott loves exploring nature with this dog, Charley, and his girlfriend, Kelli.  They also are adventurous on the culinary side, exploring restaurants, especially dog-friendly restaurants that have good beer.  Movies are also a passion for Scott.  Favorite movies?  Shawshank Redemption and American History X.

What inspires you today?

“Effective action toward positive change”.  Scott believes this to be a central theme in every place he has worked, including the OWCN. He is also inspired by seeing other people’s compassion and positive actions to make the world a better place for the environment and its animals.

Favorite book?

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.

Scott with Southeast Farallon Island in the background.

As the Wildlife Recovery Specialist, Scott will be assisting with Wildlife Recovery trainings throughout the state, and helping to increase our readiness and response capabilities on the inland side, as well as the marine side.

We are happy and proud to have Scott join our team.  WELCOME, SCOTT!


Because everyone’s asking . . . . here is Refugio pelican Blue One!

Early on during the Refugio Beach spill, I blogged about an adult male pelican called Blue One. He was the first pelican rescued from the spill, and when he came in he was completely saturated in oil, and pretty sad.


Even after he was washed, he had some problems: his foot joints were swollen, and he was very weak. We babied him along, and gave him lots of TLC. It took him a while to learn how to feed himself, and at every stage of the rehabilitation process, he seemed to need more time. Finally, he was out in the aviary, self-feeding, with normal joints, and walking and swimming well. However, he wasn’t flying, and since he came in with a healed wing fracture, we were a bit worried.

Well, I never blogged about his release and I’ve gotten a ton of questions about him . . . many from people who started by saying, “I’m afraid to ask, but how is Blue One?” I realized that people were afraid to ask because they thought he might have died, or been euthanized, so I want to set the record straight and announce that Blue One did eventually start flying! He was released, and not only that, he was seen by Kelly of International Bird Rescue after his release, looking well. Here he is in a photo that she took:

blue one after release

So never fear, Blue One is out there in the world, being a pelican, and I couldn’t be happier about it! He has a green plastic band on, as do all of the oiled pelicans from the Refugio spill, so if you see a bird with a green band and a code that begins with “Z,” please let us know. It’s the best news you could give us.


Green-banded pelicans can be reported here: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/owcn/green-banded-pelicans.cfm

Refugio Incident: The “Hotwash” Machine

Although the Wildlife Recovery Operations for the Refugio Incident have wrapped up, OWCN staff remains busy. In addition to cleaning and restocking, we are already working on plans to make our next response even better.

Curt Clumpner and Tim Williamson discuss options for temporary pools for pelagic birds at the NW Area Wildlife Equipment Exercise

Curt Clumpner and Tim Williamson discuss options for temporary pools for pelagic birds at the NW Area Wildlife Equipment Exercise

After every response, we hold a series of meetings that we refer to as “Hotwashes”. The goal of each Hotwash is to identify “Plusses” and “Deltas”. In other words, what went well and what things we need to change for the next response. FYI: In math, the Greek symbol for Delta stands for “change” in a value.

This past Monday, we had our first “Hotwash” for the Refugio Incident. This meeting focused primarily on successes that we can celebrate and improvements that we can work on within OWCN. Next Monday and Tuesday, we are inviting ~40 key stakeholders from our Member Organizations and Affiliated Agencies to a second Hotwash. This meeting will target how OWCN can better integrate with our response partners.

Mobile avian care trailer

Mobile avian care trailer

In addition to planning & personnel, another essential component of providing the best care to oiled animals is to have the best equipment for the job. In order to check out some new developments, Curt, Tim and I made a quick trip to Portland, Oregon to attend the Northwest Area Wildlife Equipment Exercise. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet and swap experiences with wildlife responders from Washington and Oregon. We left the exercise with many ideas about how we could adapt some of the technologies at the show into our own response efforts.


Its through working with our amazing partners and participating in these kinds of collaborative and learning experiences that we hope to continue achieve our to mission for OWCN to provide the best achievable capture and care of oil-affected wildlife.


Curt Clumpner exploring alternative care options for oil affected seabirds at the NW Area Wildlife Equipment Exercise

Curt Clumpner exploring alternative care options for oil affected seabirds at the NW Area Wildlife Equipment Exercise

Climate control unit for mobile oiled wildlife care site

Climate control unit for mobile wildlife care site

example of use of tent as mobile oiled bird care site

Example of tent used as mobile oiled bird care site


Bye Bye Baby!

Our great OWCN staff at International Bird Rescue released “the baby” this week with great fanfare (not to mention a lifeguard escort). Because few of us here in San Pedro had experience with fledgling cormorants, the baby provided both entertainment (those adorable squeaky sounds!) and education. We consulted with folks who have more experience with cormies at this age, so we all learned a little something.

The baby Brandt’s went from a fluffy puffball to a sleek, streamlined cormorant in the weeks he’s been with us, but that hasn’t stopped us from continuing to refer to him as a baby. I guess it is always hard to admit it when your baby grows up!

Kelly got some fantastic photos of his release, which as I mentioned included a boat escort by the Cabrillo Beach lifeguards so he could be released out on the water. A big shout-out to the lifeguards for helping to get this guy home!

2015-06-05 13.40.56

Here he was as a fluffy baby.


Here he is heading out of the carrier.


Here he is getting ready to take the big plunge.















And here he is in the water!


A Loud Good-bye

2015-06-25 12.22.48Guess who went home today? I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t a quiet exit. That’s right, we released Grebey today! I heard him (yes, we measured his bill and discovered that despite our use of the feminine pronoun, he was a male after all) scream as he came out of the pool, and he screamed again while getting weighed, and then again going into the carrier.

Surprisingly, he was silent as Kelly took him out of carrier at the beach and placed him in the water. Perhaps he sensed the solemnity of the occasion. He looked around for a few minutes as he swam away from us, and then he started diving and looking like a proper grebe. That the was cue for his entourage of staff and volunteers to head back to the center for lunch.

Grebey, or Green 10, was the first non-pelican affected by the Refugio spill to be released. On Saturday, we’ll be releasing several more pelicans at Goleta Beach, so if you’re in the area, please join us. Thanks to everyone who participated in the OWCN response to make the release of these birds possible!