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May 3, 2005

Hundreds of baby ducks looking for a mom – your mom

Local wildlife experts launch new adoption program in time for Mother’s Day

Photo of orphaned ducklings

Orphaned ducklings need your support.

W ildlife experts at International Bird Rescue Research Center are hoping that bird lovers will gift their moms an orphaned baby duck, heron or egret instead of a box of candy this Mother’s Day (May 8th). With over 500 orphans at the center, and another one thousand expected, the adoption program is a way to help defray the cost of raising thousands of orphaned waterfowl so they can be returned to the wild.

Adopt-a-bird now

“The adoption program we started last summer for endangered brown pelicans was so successful, we decided to expand it,” explained Public Affairs Director, Karen Benzel, “Our program is unique because every bird we release gets a Federal band put on its leg. The number on the band identifies the bird for life.

Adopters don’t actually get the bird, but they do get an official certificate for the species they adopt, with the band number of their bird and the date and place of release.

IBRRC’s center on the edge of the Suisun Marsh in Cordelia has experienced first-hand the reason it gets so many orphan birds. On one side of the center are the open fields and wetlands of Suisun Marsh; on the other, what used to be open space is now completely built with new roads, subdivisions, apartment complexes, hotels and mini-malls.

Waterfowl are adaptable to certain human actions but loss of habitat and food sources mean many birds are forced into areas that are unsafe. Mallard females who typically nest in the same area every year, may find what was once a wetland, is now a condo complex with swimming pools, and a host of dangers, including dogs, cats, and cars. Urban sprawl creates incredible stresses on birds and other wildlife trying to survive in habitats that continue to shrink or become polluted.

“What’s so great about this program is that it allows the public to be a part of what we do,” said IBRRC Director, Jay Holcomb. “Hopefully it makes people feel a little empowered, just by the fact one bird is out there, that is theirs.”

Although pelican adoptions go for $200, ducklings can be adopted for twenty five dollars, and herons and egrets for fifty dollars. Adoptions include a one-year IBRRC membership.

Banded birds become lifetime subjects of study, and provide a great amount of useful data for researchers. IBRRC is one of only a few rehabilitation centers in the US that is part of the USFWS Federal Banding Program. Since 1972, IBRRC has banded over 50,000 birds.

Details on IBRRC and their adoption program can be found on their website at www.ibrrc.org or by calling 707-207-0380 extension 109.

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