How Crews are Cleaning Oil-Covered Birds

To report oiled or injured wildlife in the Gulf Coast area, call 866-557-1401.

You might have heard about the first oiled bird that was rescued yesterday in the Gulf. The northern gannet was found in the spill area, and is being treated by the Tristate Bird Rescue and Research, which has been contracted by BP to rehabilitate wildlife, along with other wildlife response organizations and local agencies.

The seabird is in stable condition and may be released in the next two weeks.

How is this bird and others brought to the facility going to be treated? Here's the cleaning process according to a press release from the oil spill response group
coordinated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

  • Oiled birds arrive at the treatment facility, which has been set up just for this purpose.

  • It receives a full physical including blood values, weight, and a thorough examination of the extent of oiling.

  • Many oiled birds are dehydrated, so are generally given an IV and oral hydration.

  • The birds rest for 12-24 hours.

  • When it meets medical criteria it is washed with Dawn detergent. It takes up to four people and up to 45 minutes to wash a large bird. Up to 300 gallons per bird are needed for the cleaning process.

  • All wastewater is controlled and disposed of in accordance with regulations.

  • Cleaned birds are allowed to recover and preen until waterproof, and meeting release criteria.

  • Before release, federal and state wildlife agencies help determine the best locations to release the birds.

  • Federal bird bands are applied to each released bird.

PLEASE, if you find a injured or oiled bird, do NOT attempt to rescue it. Doing so can cause more harm than good. If oiled wildlife are found, call the Oiled Wildlife hotline established by BP at (866) 557-1401.

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