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Bird Clean Up Continues At Fairfield Rescue Center

Cheryl Reynolds, International Bird Rescue

A horned grebe being washed at International Bird Rescue's San Francisco Bay Center to remove mystery goo.

Cheryl Reynolds, International Bird Rescue

So far, 315 birds coated with substance that looks and feels like dirty rubber cement have been brought into the International Bird Rescue center in Fairfield. Just over 100 have been cleaned.

"And the rest of them are being stabilized and supported right now," says Barbara Callahan, the center's interim executive director. "And we hope to move those through the washing process in the coming couple days."

Search-and-rescue teams continue to walk along Bay Area shorelines looking for sea birds covered in the goo.    

"These are birds that never come out of the water other than to breed," explains Callahan. "So when you see a scoter or a loon on a beach there's a problem with that bird."

The center is well-known for cleaning birds after oil spills. Callahan says they've never seen this type of gummy substance on birds before.

"We're basically treating the animals the same way we would during an oil spill," says Callahan. "They need medical stabilization because they come in very dehydrated and malnourished and hypothermic. We are having to pre-treat with vinegar and baking soda which we normally don't, but that allows the goop to soften a little bit, then it kind of slides off."

Wildlife officials hope to identify the gummy material this week, but it could be longer before they discover the source of the goo. Preliminary tests show it is not a petroleum-based substance or an organic product like vegetable or fish oil.




Steve Milne

Morning Edition Anchor & Reporter

Steve is the Morning Edition anchor for Capital Public Radio. He covers stories on a wide range of topics including: business, education, real estate, agriculture and music.  Read Full Bio 

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