SAN FRANCISCO — The once-regal horned grebe scooted undignified around its box, a piece of printer paper stuck to the goo on its bottom. The seabird's bold black and white feathers were a mucky brown; its wings matted with gunk, dirt and pebbles. A towel stuck to its belly had to be slowly peeled off like old duct tape.
Despite the bird's pathetic appearance, Gummy Bear was Kathy Koehler's favorite among the 323 goo-covered seabirds that the International Bird Rescue recovered from the beaches of San Francisco Bay in January.
"He was probably one of the worst contaminated birds that came in and the biggest fighter, which was why everybody liked him. He just had spunk," the 62-year-old volunteer said.