Sea Birds vs. Oil spill

By: Crystal, Elizbeth, Megan

A harmless dime-size glob of oil could kill a bird?

We may learn about the devastating effects of spills that occur when tankers accidentally loose their cargo, but there are thousands of small spills occurring daily around the world that go unreported and unnoticed. Millions of water birds die every year due to oil from a plethora of sources, from jet skis and motorboats, to oil washed off streets and into storm drains after rain.
When you look at a bird covered in oil it is difficult to imagine how it could ever be cleaned, much less survive. It used to be thought that washing a bird with soap would remove the natural oils from its feathers, causing the bird to loose its insulation and waterproofing, which would lead to its death. It's true that birds have an oil producing gland, and when they preen they spread this oil on their feathers, but it is only a conditioner. What keeps birds waterproof is the position of the feathers. What a bird is doing when it preens is carefully aligning each feather, which is made up of a shaft, veins, and tiny barbs that connect the veins into a tightly woven unit. This feather structure does not allow water or air to penetrate and provides buoyancy and insulation.

The feathers overlap each other like the shingles on a roof to create an entire waterproof covering for the bird. Properly aligned feathers will not allow water or air to penetrate and ensures that the bird is buoyant and insulated from the cold. Every day birds spend considerable time preening because if their feathers are not perfectly aligned it could literally mean death.
When a bird encounters oil on the surface of the water, the oil sticks to its feathers, causing them to mat and separate, impairing the waterproofing and exposing the animals sensitive skin to extremes in temperature. This can result in hypothermia, meaning the bird becomes cold, or hyperthermia, which results in overheating. Instinctively, the bird tries to get the oil off its feathers by preening, which results in the animal ingesting the oil. This ingestion can cause severe damage to the bird's internal organs. The focus on preening overrides all other natural behaviors; including feeding and evading predators, making the bird vulnerable to secondary health problems such as severe weight loss, anemia and dehydration. Many oil soaked birds loose their buoyancy and beach themselves in their attempt to escape the cold water. The fortunate ones are picked up by concerned citizens or capture crews.

The birds that are brought to rescue centers are often frightened, cold, emaciated, dehydrated, exhausted and suffering from the internal effects of oil. Initial procedures may involve cleaning the eyes, nasal and oral passages of oil and dirt, applying saline eye solution, giving oral fluids and activated charcoal solution, but not washing.
To wash a bird that is already highly stressed and not medically stable could mean death. Manoiled bird's die because well-meaning people, anxious to get oil off the bird, wash it immediately, resulting in death from stress. It is actually more important to give oiled birds the much needed nutrition, hydration and medical treatment they need before they are washed.

Once stable, oiled birds go through a series of tub washes alternating between baths with a one percent solution of dishwashing liquid and clean water. The wash time varies depending on the amount of oil, and the size of the bird, but on average it takes two people 45 minutes and 300 gallons of water to do a thorough washing.
After being washed, the birds are put in net bottom cages with warm air dryers. The final steps are to put them in warm water pools, where they continue to preen, and finally into cold pools. Birds in rehabilitation are checked constantly to make sure that they are completely waterproofed and when their blood work and weight are in the normal range, they are banded and released.

A bird being cleaned after spending day in oil.

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A Bird in the oil
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A pelection being cleaned, after being in the oil for days waiting rescue.
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These videos are about how oil spills effect sea birds and how to clean then and things you can do to help.
They show the affects and dicusses nuremous things that will help to one day left animals live in a healthy enviorment.

My Glogster poster for sea birds and opil spills dont mix ! Check it out!

They links will give you more info, and lead you to where you can help !
Thanks for taking the time to help spread awareness !