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Migration Teams Up with the International Bird Rescue to Raise Awareness

Find out about the storied wildlife rescue foundation — and while you're at it, you can save a duckling.

By Grace Jidoun

Wildlife lovers have much to swoon over in Migration. The Mallard family of ducks at the center of the story — and their feathered friends — are intelligent, inquisitive, and have touching quirks, some downright hilarious. Watching the movie, you can’t help but wonder about real-life birds and the challenges they face in their epic migrations. Universal has jumped on this opportunity to highlight the International Bird Rescue, a conservation group that helps improve the lives of injured aquatic birds.

Ahead of Migration’s December 22 premiere, Universal partnered with the non-profit to bring us a short video clip to raise awareness about the rescue group’s important work. In the video, Today show host and animal-lover Al Roker says, “With every bird’s migration, things don’t always go as planned.” That’s where the International Bird Rescue comes in.

What is the International Bird Rescue?

Gwen from Migration singing I Love You Always Forever

For more than half a century, the conservation group has been caring for sick, abused, and injured aquatic birds, particularly those impacted by oil spills, and releasing them back into the wild. Their mission is “to give a voice to waterbirds through conservation, advocacy, and wildlife literacy that builds empathy and encourages action,” according to its website. And they’ve been doing just that. Since its founding in 1971, the organization of veterinarians, researchers, and avian experts has responded to more than 250 oil spills and wildlife emergencies, caring for more than 160,000 birds on six continents.

Who is the founder of International Bird Rescue?

A scene from the movie Migration

Retired nurse Alice Berkner founded the non-profit in 1971 after becoming outraged over an enormous oil spill off the coast of San Francisco that covered 50 miles of coastline and impacted thousands of birds. Berkner helped rally a group of volunteers to save and rehabilitate more than 7,000 Western Grebes and Scoters. At the time, there was no established practice for how to clean wildlife covered in oil. Legend has it, Alice grabbed dish soap at the grocery store, and we now have her to thank for the industry-wide standard of using dish soap to clean off oiled birds. She founded the organization that same year, partnering with the oil industry to establish bird rehabilitation centers.

Through the years, the group has mounted extensive on-the-ground responses to some of the biggest oil spills in history, including the 1989 Exxon Valdez emergency, where 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled into Alaskan waters. They also dispatched rescue workers to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest accidental marine oil spill in history, where they co-managed bird rehabilitation centers in four Gulf states.

How can you get involved or learn more?

A scene from the movie Migration

The International Bird Rescue operates crisis response centers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Anchorage — take a peek at the birds in their care on their Live Bird Cams or consider joining their Adopt-a-Bird Program, where you can sponsor a cute clutch of ducklings. They also aim to educate people about how oil and other contaminants like plastics impact birds, and the website includes loads of helpful information.

Migration premieres in theaters on December 22. Get your tickets now!