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Birds Covered in Killer Gunk Struggle to Survive off Nor-Cal Coast

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At least 100 birds covered with a mysterious gooey substance have been endangered along the East Bay shoreline in Northern California. The substance is lethal and has killed twenty birds so far.

Barbara Callahan from the International Bird Rescue (IBR) said that the substance may be on hundreds of more birds. According to SFGate the birds picked up the grayish goop from Crab Cove in Alameda, the San Leandro Marina, and around the Hayward Shoreline near Winton Avenue.

“I wish I was feeling more optimistic,” Fairfield IBR operations Manger Julie Skoglund remarked. She has been trying along with workers and volunteers to help the variety of inflicted birds. Surf scoters, buffleheads, goldeneyes, horned grebes and other birds have all been found coated with the substance. Despite all the problems with treating the birds, she says that she is still “hopeful.”

Unfortunately, because the mysterious substance is not petroleum based like oil spill crud, there are no provisions for state and federal funding. Consequently, the non-profit IBR must shell out thousands of dollars a day taking care of the birds. As a result, the IBR is conducting an aggressive search to locate the source of the goop.  “If it’s identified as a manmade source, and if the responsible party is identified, then absolutely they would have to pay for cleanup costs,” Skoglund said.

IBR rescuers discovered that soaps used to treat birds covered in usual pollutants like oil, roofing tar, cooking oil from fast-food restaurants, and glue traps prove to be ineffective.  Callahan explained that instead, “We have seen some preliminary success in washing contaminated birds with baking soda, vinegar, a pre-treatment solution (methylsoyate), as well as Dawn dish washing liquid, which we routinely use in birds affected by oil spills.”

The rescue team has found good results with a system of bathing the birds in warm water pools. Sunday ten birds were cleaned in this manner. “So far,” Skoglund said hopefully, “the results look pretty good.”


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