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July 27, 2007

Cordelia, CA

Abandoned Ibis chicks rescued

70 chicks and 100 eggs safe after colony forced from nests; public appeal for help


Ibis chick tube feeding photo

One of 70+ Ibis chicks gets tube fed at IBRRC's Cordelia clinic (IBRRC photo)

It couldn’t have been worse timing for the colony of White-faced Ibis who had chosen a rice field in Sacramento Valley to nest in. The three acre plot was harvested on Saturday, July 21, forcing hundreds of parents to abandon their babies and nests. 78 live baby ibis were rescued, along with almost 100 eggs, and taken to International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in Cordelia. The California Dept. of Fish and Game is investigating; all migratory birds are protected by Federal laws.

“Other than mallard ducklings, we have never received this many orphans of one species in our 36 year history,” said Jay Holcomb, director of IBRRC. “However ducklings, being precocial (able to feed themselves from birth) are easy to raise compared to ibis, which are atricial and require constant feedings of an expensive slurry that includes krill, and mealworms for protein. Under these circumstances, we have no choice but to appeal to the public for help.” Adopt a bird NOW

Clinic staff working with Ibis chicks

Busy clinic staff working with Ibis chicks. (IBRRC photo)

Extra staff had to be added to handle the magnitude of birds now in care at the center, including hundreds of orphan baby ducks, egrets, herons and other patients. Eighty-nine ibis eggs are in incubators at the center, and some have hatched, adding to the population in intensive care.

Rarely seen, baby ibis look very much like little dinosaurs. As they grow, the stripes on their beaks will disappear, their brown eyes will turn red, and their dirty white and pale brown feathers will become a rich brown with metallic purple, bronze and green highlights. At the juvenile stage, it is hard to imagine that these gangly birds becoming beautiful and elegant flyers.

White-faced Ibis chick

One of 78 White-faced Ibis chicks being cared for at IBRRC's Cordelia/Fairfield bird center. (Marie Travers/IBRRC)

The ibis in care range in age from hatchling to two to three weeks old and won’t be ready for release until they have grown feathers and have fledged (able to fly) at around six weeks of age. Audubon: White-faced Ibis

To help with the cost of caring for the birds, Holcomb hopes all will be adopted through IBRRC’s unique program that started with endangered pelicans and expanded to include threatened or unique species like terns, and now white faced ibis. Anyone interested in adopting a bird, or volunteering at the center, should visit the IBRRC website at http://www.ibrrc.org/adopt_ibis.html for more information.

Ibis white-faced adult in flight

Full grown Ibis. (Paul Hoffman/California DFG)

While not endangered, white faced ibis populations plummeted due to pesticides, and especially DDT, which was finally banned in 1972 in the United States. Survival for ibis remains challenging as natural marsh habitats disappear to development, forcing many birds to nest in irrigated fields, vulnerable to disturbance.

In the news:

Vacaville Reporter slide show

CBS-TV-5 Bay City News report

How to help the Ibis chicks




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