FAIRFIELD — International Bird Rescue executive director Jay Holcomb, a relentless pioneer in the field of oiled wildlife care since the 1970s, has died. He was 63.
The organization has a center in Fairfield.
Holcomb, who had cancer, died Friday in Modesto, according to a press release.
Under his direction, International Bird Rescue cared for animals affected by large-scale oil spills such as Exxon Valdez in 1989 and the Gulf Spill in 2010.
Holcomb began his career assisting efforts to help birds affected by a large oil spill in the San Francisco Bay in 1971. He became executive director of International Bird Rescue in 1986 and has held director and director emeritus roles since then.
In addition to his many published contributions to oiled wildlife care research, Holcomb launched the Blue-Banded Pelican Project in 2009 to better track the post-release success of California brown pelicans cared for at International Bird Rescue’s two centers in California.
Holcomb was featured in the 2011 Emmy Award-winning documentary “Saving Pelican 895″ about International Bird Rescue’s efforts to save oiled birds after the Gulf spill.
Barbara Callahan, a longtime senior staff member of International Bird Rescue who trained under Holcomb and serves as global response director, has been appointed interim executive director of the organization by the board of directors.
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