Happy 45th Birthday, International Bird Rescue!

Here's how to clean up birds after an oil spill: First, treat the birds for shock and dehydration. Next, feed them, 'cause they might not have eaten while covered in oil, and give them any medicine they need. Then place them in warm water. Finally, when they're stable enough, wash them ever so gently with Dawn dish soap and rinse them thoroughly. 

This protocol comes from the long experience of International Bird Rescue, which got its start in 1971 when two oil tankers collided near the Golden Gate in San Francisco. The collision dumped 800,000 gallons of crude oil into the Bay and coated thousands of birds in oil. Through trial and error, volunteers figured out how to clean them up so that they stood the best chance of surviving. These volunteers eventually formed International Bird Rescue (IBR), a nonprofit that pioneers the treatment of aquatic birds that been harmed by human hands. Their method for cleaning oiled birds is now the gold standard. (And yes, the Dawn dish soap is donated.)

IBR's funding comes largely from contracts with oil companies. Their headquarters are in Fairfield, California, but they stand by for emergencies anywhere in the world. They helped clean up wildlife after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. In a typical year, they treat about 5,000 birds, some from oil spills and some from other kinds of injuries inflicted by humans.  

We at Talkin' Birds admire IBR's hard work. e recommend you have a look at the International Bird Rescue website. You'll find inspiring stories, ways to donate, and even cool birdcams. Enjoy--and celebrate.