If You Give a Bird a Shower

Oh my. I did not realize!

Oiled Wildlife Care Network

A common murre being washed. A common murre being washed.

Last night, a good samaritan found an oiled bird on the beach and attempted to clean the oil off of it themselves. Though it might seem like a good idea – after all, oil is a nasty substance, and intuitively removing it should be a good thing – this is one of the most damaging actions you can take if you are presented with an oiled animal.

We’ve talked about the dangers of oil on humans, so we won’t go into that here – though it pains me to gloss over it, because oil is such a toxic substance!  Still, I’m going to focus on why, counterintuitively, removing the oil from a bird can seriously harm or even kill.

The washroom; full of specialty equipment, supplies, and trained personnel. The washroom; full of specialty equipment, supplies, and trained personnel.

There’s a little bit of background to this:

First, wild birds are terrified of humans…

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