How to Clean an Oil-Covered Bird (Video)


Photo via the Age

As the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico spreads, and as the crude starts to make landfall in thriving coastal habitats, it's a sad reality that more and more sea birds will fall victim to it. Which is why the Tri-state and International Bird Rescue organizations have set up rescue centers around the Gulf. So far, only seven birds have been taken to the main center in Venice, Louisiana, but it's only a matter of time before more are brought in for rescue. So I headed down to check out the operation, where one of their conservation experts explained step-by-step how an oil-covered bird gets cleaned up and saved--the process is much more complicated than I would've imagined.A bird that makes contact with oil will typically die unless it receives aid and gets cleaned up. Here's Rebecca Dunne of Tri-State Bird Rescue explaining the process of how exactly this is done:

Dawn soap works best for cleaning birds--who knew?

Conservationists must wash quickly, because the bird thinks he's being eaten.

One bird can take 45 minutes and 300 gallons of hot water to wash.

The soap must be fully washed out, because the soap itself is a contaminant. The experts at the bird rescue center anticipate having to handle hundreds of birds at a time, repeating a process that, again, takes the better part of an hour to clean each one. So far the impact on birds has been thankfully limited, but conservationists are preparing for the worst.

I'm traveling around the Gulf of Mexico, reporting on the ongoing oil crisis. Stay tuned for the latest developments and breaking reports from the scene.
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