Ballona Photography | How to Rescue A Seabird

How to Rescue A Seabird

October 10, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

© Bev-Sue Powers, (
Recently, my daughter and I were finishing lunch and enjoying the view of the Marina Del Rey and Ballona Creek  from the roof-top patio when I noticed a bird swimming in a very odd pattern.  After watching it for a while, it crossed the creek and climbed up on to the bank of the levee, still moving and behaving very weirdly.

Weary Cormorant unable to move it's head due to fishing hooks.

After my daughter left, I went down to see if the bird was still on the levee. It was and I discovered that it had fishing hooks, lines, and sinkers wrapped around its body. It couldn't move its head or even its beak! It looked like it had been in distress for several hours so I ran home and searched the International Bird Rescue website to find out what to do.  Here's what I learned:  when rescuing a bird, put it in a box (with holes cut into it for air flow) to contain and transport it to the rescue center. Reluctantly, I had to leave the bird and find a box that was big enough.  I returned with the box and tried to get the bird into the box (it clearly did not like my plan). It took off for the safety of the creek.  Dismayed, I realized I needed to change my capture strategy.  I returned home to see what other advice was on the website.  I didn’t find much else, and returned to the levee, hoping the bird had returned.  It had!  As I was trying to figure out my next move, a neighbor watching the commotion threw down a blanket to capture the bird, and another passerby blocked the bird from going back in the creek. I threw the blanket over the bird, put it in the box, and off to the rescue center we went.

Once there, they did a quick exam and told me there were at least three hooks, maybe more, throughout its body: one through its leg, one under its right wing, one on the shoulder, and another they thought it had swallowed, which is why it couldn't move its head or beak. They didn't know if they could fix it but, they said they'd try once it calmed down.   After three days, I called to see how the bird had faired. They told me it was a male, juvenile cormorant who had FIVE hooks removed – one from its stomach! They kept the cormorant on antibiotics and will release him just beyond the Marina breakwater once he has a clean bill of health. 

Thank you neighbors for helping me capture the bird, and a big thanks to the wildlife heroes and heroines of the International Bird Rescue Center, which is celebrating its 45th year rescuing Birds.  See to read about their remarkable work, and ways to get involved and support them.

P.S. Here come our Winter Neighbors!

A flock of mallards arrived at the Del Rey Lagoon in September.  Two Coots (a large flock normally winters here) were here for about a week.  Scouts for many other wintering bird neighbors should start showing up shortly, with the rest of the flocks, arriving sporadically now through early December.  Bring out your Bird books, download the birding apps, and dust off your binoculars!  


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