Monday, November 12, 2007

Saving the world, one crud-coated bird at a time


I wish you all could have seen the International Bird Rescue Research Center, where Sheri and I worked today. Hundreds of people were working to bring about the best outcome for all the birds affected by the recent oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. It was like a mustering of a Bird-Saving Army.

Here's what we saw.

545 birds in care

When Robb and I first moved to California, we volunteered at IBRRC. Unless it was "duckling season," there were generally no more than twenty birds under care at a time. Right now, the center is bursting at the seams. Sheri and I spent the bulk of our day building more pens to hold the birds.

Yes, you read that correctly, the two scenic painters did -- gasp -- carpentry! I consider my carpentry skills to be so crappy that I never, ever build anything at work. I'm too embarrassed by all the things I don't know to humiliate myself in front of my co-workers.

I surprised myself by doing a very good, organized job. The staff carpenters, who wouldn't speak to us at the beginning of the project were referring to us as "The Girls Who Kicked Their Asses" by the time we had helped build two dozen duck pens.

126 birds stabilized and washed

While necessary to save their lives, washing oil from a bird is VERY stressful. Birds need to be healthy enough to submit to this ordeal. We saw plenty of feisty birds being scrubbed down with Dawn dish-washing detergent. It takes four people to manage a single bird, and every single washing station was going non-stop.

369 birds dead on arrival

All these carcasses must be stored as evidence, in the event of a criminal trial. The center has to keep all of the dead birds from oil spill events, and while we were working, a truck pulled up from the Department of Fish and Game, and people started to load it up archived carcasses. The center had run out of room for all the dead birds in the two room-sized walk in freezers that serve as avian morgues. Staggering.

hundreds of professionals and volunteers,
all working to save lives

It was awesome to be a part of this team.

But really, being who I am, how could I not have participated in some way or another?


JBanana said...

This reminds me of the starfish story where the little girl was tossing beached starfish back into the ocean. A man came by and said, "Don't bother trying to save them all, you can't make a difference." The little girl tossed another and said "I made a difference to that one!"
You are making a difference and I, as one who shares this earth, thank you.

dorks anonymous said...

Lisa--I'm glad that you are able to help. Thanks for looking after the birds for us.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

You know, I pictured Cara at my side, today...

Anonymous said...

Hooray to you and all the dedicated people beside you. All things big and small deserve a chance on this earth. Wish I could be there to help make that happen.

Anonymous said...

Why can't you just hook up a power sprayer and spray all the birds with that? That way you can do volume, eh?

I imagine that the birds need to be injected with some sort of seditive before you guys hold and wash them. Am I right? Or do you just wash all the birds one at a time, since the oil itself is adding enough foreign chemicals to their bodies.

Where do the clean birds go, because if they were set free, wouldnt they just go right back into the oily areas again?


Anonymous said...

This just sux. Did you ever read "A Mote in God's Eye"? It's a modern Inferno. I always thought one of the levels should be stewing in your own waste. Not the biological kind but the kind the planet can't recycle....


Anonymous said...

Lisa, you are one of those admirable people who make a differenc in this ole world. There should be more. Thank you.


Greg said...

Go Lisa! It makes me sad to see "my" Bay in such terrible shape. Thanks for taking steps to help protect it! It's everyones Bay!

Anonymous said...


Bravo to you for going down there and doing that! I wish I could go down there and help you.



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