Environment & Nature

Adopt a Bird: Helping the International Bird Rescue Save More

Adopt a Bird: Helping the International Bird Rescue Save More

One of the many things I'm trying to teach my children is to take a moment to be quiet and observe their surroundings when we are outdoors.  They have discovered the wonderful world of birds.  The International Bird Rescue is a dedicated organization that helps saves birds and one way you can help is by adopting a bird. 

Dawn Day in the Wildlife: Saving the Birds at International Bird Rescue

This is a sponsored post by Dawn and the third post of a four-series posts on my experiences with #DawnDayintheWildlife.  To read the series posts please click HERE.

My first memories of Dawn were the commercials with the adorable ducklings being washed with Dawn dish soap, and I would be lying if I said I hadn't shed a tear or two watching those commercials!  Now thanks to Dawn I met Andrew Harmon, Director of Marketing and Communications of  the International Bird Rescue (IBR).  Andrew spoke to the group of us #DawnDayintheWildlife bloggers at The Marine Mammal Center about Dawn's partnership with the IBR.

The California Brown Pelican and Gulls

The California Brown Pelican and Gulls

The IBR is in Fairfield, California, only about an hour from our Bay Area home, so I was invited to extend my #DawnDayintheWildlife experience by visiting a great rescue center for birds.  I was really excited that I was able to take the rest of my family because my children really love wildlife, and particularly birds, but I explained to my children that we were visiting a "Bird Hospital" and we might see some birds with injuries.

Indeed that is exactly what it looked like a "Bird Hospital"!

The Examination

We quietly observed a Gull being examined, this particular Gull had a wing injury.  A fisherman found him with a fishing hook puncturing his wing, so he captured and took it to a local animal shelter.  This Gull had already been patched up by the animal shelter but the IBR volunteers had to examine the injury and redress the injury.

Body, Injured Wing and Head Examination

Body, Injured Wing and Head Examination

During the examination, the volunteers want to have the least "human interaction" with the bird, since it is a wild bird and they want the bird to stay wild.  Andrew explained the reason the bird's head is covered with the towel is to have the least amount of eye contact and only during the head examination is the head uncovered.  Some more aggressive birds might even lunge to peck a person's eyes, so the least amount of eye contact the better!

As for my children, I had to explain to them that we had to be VERY quiet so the bird wouldn't get scared.  I think because the bird had an "owie" the children were very quiet and concerned for the gull.  They understood that the bird "doctors" were making the gull feel better!  I am very thankful to the IBR for allowing my children to experience a little bit of #DawnDayintheWildlife.

The Cleaning Process and Facilities

We were able to visit the IBR's cleaning and rehabilitation rooms and of course the donated Dawn dish soap was on display everywhere!

When birds come covered in oils, the volunteers need to clean the birds.  The oils are very dangerous to the birds because the unnatural oils allow the birds to get wet as well as possibly chemically burning their skin or eyes.  There is a process in how the birds are taken care of which usually follows the routine of washing, rinsing, drying, waterproofing and release.  We did not observe the whole process since there were no other birds than the gull being currently attended but below you can experience a "Real Wildlife Release with Dawn" and see the the process from beginning to end!

From the washing rooms bird are transferred to drying cages.  The cages are for all sizes of aquatic bird, some even large enough to hold a California Brown Pelican.  The IBR works hard to save all these beautiful birds by partnering with volunteers, other organizations and companies including oil companies. These volunteers spend countless hours washing, feeding, constructing drying racks so these birds can have a chance for survival once they are returned to their natural habitats.

On the outside of the IBR facilities, we were able to see the warming tanks (as explained in the video) as well as some birds in the last stage of their "stay" at the IBR.  The whole family was excited to get a sneak peak on the birds and we silently cheered when we saw the birds swimming in their pools.

We even saw the resident Egret who was treated at the IBR and release in the nearby marshes but it loved it's stay so much that it returns to visit regularly!

Chasqui Mom's Last Thoughts...

My absolute favorite part of our visit was the aviary cage for more reasons than one.  Earlier during our visit I saw a Gull being treated for an injury and to be completely honest, I wasn't too found of gulls.  Why? Well because I viewed them as annoying birds who would always try to steal my chips at the beach or attack dumpsters scavenging for food.

Just like many things in life, until I educated myself about the "thing" I didn't like I viewed it as an annoyance.  I saw all birds, and in particular the Gull, in a different light after visiting the IBR because they are wild birds.  Sadly our human actions have affected their "wildness" and these formerly "annoying" birds are as beautifully wild as the California Brown Pelican.

Now when I'm hiking with my children along the San Francisco Bay, it brings a smile to my face to think that maybe one of the birds flying along was a bird saved by the International Bird Rescue.

Nature applauds the efforts of the International Bird Rescue and Dawn.  I applaud them for giving nature a boost so my children can enjoy it for future generations to come.

A few facts about the IBR:

Photo Courtesy of the International Bird Rescue

Photo Courtesy of the International Bird Rescue

  •  There are two centers (bird hospitals) in California: The San Francisco Bay Area and another in the Southern California.
  • The IBR saves seabirds and aquatic birds affected by man-made and natural disasters such as oil-spills and marine trash from around the world since 1971.
  • From Alaska to Argentina to South Africa, the IBR can send emergency response teams to help when disasters hit these beautiful birds.
  • In 1978, IBR founder Alice Berkner discover that Dawn worked best cutting the oil off of birds and since 1988 Dawn began its partnership with IBR.
  • The IBR has about 200 volunteers!

I would like to thank Dawn who provided this sponsored trip.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

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Dawn Day in the Wildlife: The Marine Mammal Center Volunteers & Family Outdoor Education

This is a sponsored post by Dawn and the second post of a four-series posts on my experiences with #DawnDayintheWildlife.  To read the first post on the series please click HERE.

As part of our "Day Day in the Wildlife" at The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC), I had the opportunity to shadow a volunteer cleaning the center and possibly making fish milkshakes! Unfortunately, due to infectious diseases that can be passed from mammals to humans during pregnancy, it was highly recommended to not participate in the "active volunteering" part of the event.

Photo Courtesy of Susan Goldman

I was a little disappointed but being early in my pregnancy I didn't want to take any risks.  That just meant I spent more time getting to know the wonderful Kathy Crawford, Education Volunteer.

Before I dive into all the work volunteers do a TMMC, thanks to Dawn and their camera crew you can hear exactly what the center provides for families looking for outdoor education and adventure from Kathy herself!

Getting to Know Kathy Crawford, Education Volunteer

Dawn had paired me up with an Education Volunteer like Kathy because she is also a mom and they knew how much I love wildlife and the outdoors!  Thanks to people like Kathy many children can learn about marine mammals and what they can do to protect animals from getting injured.

It was very inspiring to listen and learn about Kathy's path that led her to volunteer at TMMC.  Being a single mother of three children in Michigan, she didn't have time to volunteer, or any ocean nearby.  She wanted to be a marine biologist in college but life ended up taking her on another path.

A couple of years ago, Kathy visited TMMC and decided that if she ever moved to the San Francisco Bay Area that she would definitely wanted to become a volunteer.  Last year, Kathy moved to the area and she was able to live out her dream and work with marine mammals primarily in Education but also volunteers in the "Stranding and Releases" areas.

As a youth worker myself, an icebreaker question I love to ask to get conversations rolling is "What is your favorite animal?" and Kathy immediately answered: "Harbor Seals," which led to one of Kathy's favorite volunteer experience which is so touching....

"The one that really touched me was when we had a very premature harbor seal name Myclovial.  She was very weak and still covered with fur.  She was unable to keep down formula, so we knew she wouldn't have any chance of getting better without nutrition.  Normally we do not hold the animals very long, but she was so close to death that my supervisor said I could hold her after we tube-fed her to keep her head up and hopefully keep her meal down.  It worked.
But by the third meal, she was really limp and I knew that she probably wasn't going to make it.  When I was holding her, she grabbed my finger with her flipper.  I felt like she was saying goodbye to me.  She died a couple days later, but I just felt we did everything we could and that felt very good." ~ Kathy Crawford, Education Volunteer

With that touching story, the Harbor Seal is now my favorite marine mammal.  Kathy spent the rest of the morning teaching me the differences between harbor seals and sea lions and what to do in case we find a injured or stranded marine mammal.

Photo (Left and Right) Courtesy of Susan Goldman.

Photo (Left and Right) Courtesy of Susan Goldman.

FYI, Sea lions have little ears and large flippers and harbor seals don't.

Seals & Slippers: Sleep Under the Stars and Summer Camps

Another great program Kathy talked about was the "Seals & Slippers" family program! Families can register to camp at TMMC courtyard and fall asleep under the beautiful night sky with the sounds of the Pacific Ocean and sea lions!

Photo Courtesy of The Marine Mammal Center

This great program allows children participate in fish dissections, observe sea lion feedings, go on a guided hike and most importantly spend quality time with their families!  My family will probably join in on the fun once my children are old enough.  For more information about this program please visit The Marine Mammal Center website.

Sea Quest is 5-day education summer day camp where children from elementary grades 1st-6th, can explore marine science and ocean conservation!  For more information on Sea Quest please visit The Marine Mammal Center website.

A few more amazing facts about TMMC Volunteers:

  1. TMMC has 1100 volunteers annually!  With only 45 paid staff members this organization is primarily run by volunteers.
  2. All volunteers must be trained depending in the area training can last two days to ongoing "on the job" training.
  3. Volunteers can be as young as 15 years old and can be part of the "Youth Crew".
  4. TMMC also provide externships, which provides veterinary students in their final/clinical year to gain experiences under the guidance of veterinary staff/volunteers.
  5. Volunteers are located in three different locations in Northern California and in Kona, Hawaii!

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

I was truly blown away by how TMMC is run by so many volunteers!  These are people who give their time to saving these animal whether its actually working with animals or volunteering for an administrative position in the office.  Volunteers are vital to TMMC completing their mission...

"Our mission is to expand knowledge about marine mammals - their health and that of their ocean environment - and to inspire their global conservation." -- The Marine Mammal Center

Thanks to the volunteers like Kathy Crawford and partnerships like TMMC and Dawn, these beautiful animals have a great chance in surviving.

I would like to thank Dawn who provided this sponsored trip.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!