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Oakland Zoo, Golden Gate Audubon, and International Bird Rescue Team Up to Save Wild Baby Herons in Downtown Oakland

Oakland heron being washed. Photo Credit: Isabel Luevano / International Bird Rescue

Urban nesters like Black-crowned Night-Herons are in trouble

For the second consecutive year, Oakland Zoo, the Golden Gate Audubon Society (GGAS) and International Bird Rescue (Bird Rescue) have teamed up to save fledgling Black-Crowned Night Herons and Snowy Egrets fallen from their nest trees onto the busy streets of Downtown Oakland.

About 130 nests have been identified – making Oakland the largest rookery, or nesting colony, of Black-crowned Night-Herons in the Bay Area. So far six young birds have been rescued in the spring 2017 nesting season.

Trained volunteers from Golden Gate Audubon check the streets surrounding the rookery daily for fallen and injured birds. Oakland Zoo staff also check the rookery each morning.

Zoo staff retrieve a fallen bird from its reported location, provide intermediary treatment, if necessary, and transport the bird to International Bird Rescue in Fairfield for long-term care. Having the Zoo’s experienced animal handlers serving as on-call rescue dispatch is a crucial component.

“We are thrilled to once again be part of this team effort to save these beautiful baby herons. The opportunity to take ‘Action for Wildlife,’ is important to us, around the world and right here in our city of Oakland,” said Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo.

Once the birds are delivered to Bird Rescue, a world-leading wild waterbird rehabilitative care organization with two centers, the care provided will help them develop the full range of skills needed for survival, such as self-feeding and flight. Like last year, the rehabilitated birds will be released into safe and appropriate local habitat, including Oakland’s Bay shoreline. In August 2016 nearly two dozen Oakland birds were successfully released.

This year Bird Rescue is attaching leg bands to all the rehabilitated Oakland herons so that the young herons can be returned to their native Oakland when they are full-grown. The team is also using bandages in green and gold – Oakland A’s colors.

“Urban nesters like Black-crowned Night-Herons are in trouble ” said JD Bergeron, Executive Director of International Bird Rescue. “Their traditional nesting sites are now surrounded by busy streets and hard concrete, as well as people and cars. At Bird Rescue, we have developed a specialty in treating injured baby herons, but we rely heavily on members of the public, and partnerships like the one with Golden Gate Audubon and Oakland Zoo, to help find birds in peril and to transport them to our center. We have treated more than 800 baby herons and egrets [from Oakland and the greater Bay-Delta area] in just one season!”

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