Seabirds in Marin face a slew of hardships, many arising from plastic in oceans, fishing line entanglement and other byproducts of human life. Fortunately, there is a group looking out for these creatures. International Bird Rescue was founded in 1971 after one of the most significant oil spills in California history with a mission to help preserve the natural world by rescuing waterbirds in crisis. The organization operates 365 days a year and took in more than 3,000 birds at its Northern California, Southern California and Alaska locations in 2018 alone.
In Marin, Bird Rescue rehabilitates seabirds found along shorelines from Dillon Beach to Muir Beach. Some of the most common rescues include brown pelicans, common murres, western grebes and western gulls. The brown pelican is particularly important, as these birds have faced many challenges over the years. Recently they were removed from the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, and in an effort to monitor their survival through reported sightings, Bird Rescue started the Blue-Banded Brown Pelican Program, in which each bird released back to nature is fitted with a lettered-and-numbered band. Sightings have greatly increased, but locals can assist the group in this and many other ways, from participating to donating.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Become a rescuer: if you see a seabird sitting on the shore with dogs and people nearby, it likely needs protecting. You can call the Marin Humane Society at 415.883.4621 to report the bird.
- Take part in a local bird count: become a citizen scientist and contribute to knowledge about birds.
- Become an International Bird Rescue volunteer. No experience is necessary.
- Clean up litter: join a beach cleanup so birds don’t ingest or become entangled in trash or fishing equipment.
- Say no to one-use plastic containers, tableware and straws. Use refillable containers and decline straws or bring your own reusable one.
- Take a child birding to inspire the next generation of bird-lovers.