Bird Cleanup Process in Full Swing at the Unified Command Center - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Bird Cleanup Process in Full Swing at the Unified Command Center

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PASCO, WA -- It's been two weeks since used motor oil spilled into Sulphur Creek near Sunnyside. The Department of Ecology and other agencies from around the state are helping clean birds from that spill at the Unified Command Center.

These birds are put under a tremendous amount of stress after they have been captured for the cleanup process. Washing, rinsing and drying takes up to an hour for each bird. So far, 70 birds have been rescued. 

About 19 birds have either been found dead, or died in the process of cleanup. But the ones that make it, should see natural habitat in the next week. 

Each feather contributes to protecting the birds sensitive skin. When oil covers the bird, those feathers separate, making it hard to keep a normal temperature, leading to hypothermia. 

"It's a large event because the oil spilled into these irrigation canals and ditches," said Joye Redfield-Wilder from the Washington Department of Ecology. 

"The most rewarding part obviously is when we release the birds," said Chris Battaglia, President at Focus Wildlife. "I've done over 70 spills in my lifetime, with wildlife and it doesn't matter how many times you do it, when you open that crate and let the bird go, I think that's the most rewarding part of it."

Within the last few days, crews found a gaggle of domesticated geese as well. They are currently hoping to release the mallards and other birds into the wild, but they're looking for someone to adopt the geese. If you're interested call 1-800-22-BIRDS.