“Every release is so rejuvenating. When birds go back into the wild it makes what we do all worthwhile. It never gets old,” says Mairead McGuirk a volunteer at the International Bird Rescue in San Pedro that has been rescuing, rehabbing and releasing birds for more than 40 years.
On a warm afternoon, a crowd gathered to celebrate World Animal Day on Oct. 2 with (what else?) a release of some of the IBR’s feathered patients. On hand were two celebrities — Entourage’s Adrian Grenier and Keegan Allen of Pretty Little Liars — who garnered much of the media attention but who came to the center with passionate intentions.
“These animals have no way of fixing what has happened to them,” said Allen. “Our ecosystem is being so messed up and so many of these accidents and spills could be avoided. Our oceans and wildlife mean so much. We can’t keep destroying it.”
The two animal-loving actors got a behind-the-scenes tour and learned about IBR which was founded in 1971 after a large oil spill off the coast of San Francisco devastated local sea bird populations.
Since its inception, IBR has helped clean-up 200 oil spills in six continents, most recently volunteers traveled to the massive Gulf Coast oil spill.
Grenier and Keegan met with IBR volunteers and staff and assisted Dr. Becky Duerr as she examined two current patients: a California brown pelican and an eared grebe, both with broken wings.
Later, the pair helped McGuirk feed recuperating grebes krill, night smelt and meal worms of in an outdoor water enclosure.
Finally, the young actors headed to a nearby ocean beach and had the honors of opening the doors for a California brown pelican, a brown-footed boobie and a group of young seagulls.
Cheers went up as the birds re-entered the sky and swooped up and over the crowds. The pelican found fellow-feathered friends on a nearby rock-cropping; some seagulls had to be encouraged to explore the ocean waters.
“Some of these [gulls] came here as youngsters and didn’t have the ocean experience yet,” said IBR photographer Bill Steinkamp. “This is a whole new world for them.”
— story and photos by Brenda Rees, editor