This letter came to me through a birding forum that I read. I hope that local readers might be inspired to help seek out oiled wildlife, so that trained professionals can try to save their lives.
Don't try to rescue an oiled animal yourself. Call the number listed below and let someone trained in working with oiled wildlife. The oil in question is very toxic to humans.
I'd like to issue a special plea for birders please to try and get to "places less traveled" where you know there to be birds. We got over 40 calls yesterday reporting one oiled surf scoter at Crissy Fields; one call reporting 40 oiled clapper rails in Anderson Marsh would really help sort out rescue triage.
The sooner, the better. The faster we can get these birds stabilized and washed, the higher their chances of recovery and survival.
Calls from the general public wanting to volunteer outnumbered bird reports yesterday by about 5-1. Volunteer opportunities for untrained members of the public are going to be very limited over the next few days but here's a critical one: please make a special effort to look for oiled birds in places where the general public doesn't go. Don't approach or touch the birds but call 877-823-6926 and provide the location (be very specific, GPS coordinates are great), the species, number of birds seen, whether dead or alive, and percentage of oiling.
Please leave your name and a contact phone number. We are inundated and most of my veterinary and administrative coworkers have left Davis; of the ones of us still here who are answering this number, I'm the only one who's likely to know what a clapper rail is, so please be patient if you get through to a live person.
Under no circumstances should people touch or approach an oiled animal unless they have HAZWOPER training and are properly equipped. If you see someone doing this, please remind them that this is toxic material.
Oiled Wildlife Care Network
Wildlife Health Center
To Report an Oiled Bird: (877) 823-6926