Oil is still sticking to the plumes of herons, dirtying the vests of pelicans and will likely remain bothersome to our local bird colonies for a long time.
Birds are so very vulnerable to oil spills because their feathers soak up the oil like a sponge. The oil weighs the birds down and makes it harder for them to fly. When the birds clean and preen their feathers, they ingest the oil, often poisoning themselves.
It is important that contaminated birds get help, but it is just as imperative that the capturing and cleaning be done the right way, because using the wrong methods and materials may be fatal as well.
Oiled birds are stressed and often forget to eat. They get dehydrated and lose resistance. They need to be handled expertly. The oil is hazardous to humans as well, so direct skin contact should be avoided.
The best way to help is to alert the experts.
Texas Wildlife Center: 713-861-9453
Houston Audubon Society: 713-932-1639