SEATTLE, Wash.—A flock of birds rescued from a vegetable oil spill in a White Center pond were released back into their environment on Wednesday.
“Birds are protected from their environment by their feathers. And oil, even relatively non-toxic oil like vegetable oil, it impacts the feathers,” said Don Noviello with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Between 150 and 200 gallons of cooking oil spilled in early November, making its way through storm drains and into the pond. A food products company took the responsibility for the spill and said it would pay for the cleanup. The main concern was the birds.
“When birds in healthy conditions feathers are all working right, it’s like wearing a really nice down coat that’s water proof. But when oil gets on it, the water can now get through the feathers and get onto their skin and they start to cool off really fast,” said Noviello.
A crew trained in cleaning wildlife responded and cleaned the oily birds with dawn soap. The birds were tested to see if the waterproof character of the feathers had been restored before they were released back into the wild.