I saw this bird preening energetically off the north shore of the park. It wasn’t until I focused tight that I saw why the bird twisted and spun nonstop in a way that far exceeded normal bird preening. This bird had a heavy coat of oil on its breast and on its right side and on the back of its wings. It may also have injured its right leg.
When I got home I telephoned International Bird Rescue in Fairfield at 707-207-0380 extension 110 and left a message. A volunteer phoned me back within minutes, and after taking details, advised that they were short-handed and in any event could not rescue a bird still in the water, only on land. She advised to call Berkeley Animal Rescue at 510-981-6600. The staff member there was very sympathetic but could not send a staff person unless the bird was on land. She suggested I call the Berkeley Marina at 510-981-6740, because they had boats. The staff person there was also very sympathetic, took the details, expressed concern, checked with a supervisor, and got back to me to say that unfortunately they could not send a boat into that area, the water was too shallow. End of story. None of the three people with whom I spoke were aware of an oil spill in the area.
The oiled bird expended a tremendous amount of energy trying to clean itself. I could see no significant progress for all its efforts. It was still able to paddle, although its right leg looked injured. This is a diving bird that lives on fish. Possibly the petroleum coat will affect its buoyancy and its ability to feed itself. It’s on its own. It may be doomed.
The video of the bird’s frantic efforts to free itself from its oil coating is difficult to watch.