The Tar Side of Green Products

Sometimes green ain’t so good either.

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About suziegilbert

I live in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley and have been rehabbing birds for over twenty years. I’ve written a memoir about the slippery slope all rehabbers eventually slide down, called “Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings,” published in 2009 by HarperCollins; and a children's book called "Hawk Hill," published in 1996 by Chronicle Books. I also write all kinds of freelance content. Please see my website,
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3 Responses to The Tar Side of Green Products

  1. jodi says:

    oh, poor baby 😦
    whatchu using to remove?

  2. suziegilbert says:

    Rehabbers – here’s the latest on removing gunk from birds, from Tri-State Bird Rescue but written up by Dr Helene Van Doninck, in Nova Scotia. They say you can do it just with Dawn, but it has to be the right concentration:

    OK, the idea behind the feather test is to use the proper concentration of Dawn to remove the product: using too little won’t remove it and will mean the bird has to be washed again and again ( pretty stressful) and using too much will be irritating to the skin of the bird. WE want to find the lowest concentration that will effectively remove the product.

    So gather up some plastic dishes of known volume ( I usually use a few 100 ml) and calculate the amount of Dawn needed to make a 1%, 2%, 3% etc solution. For example, if you want a 1% solution it would be 99 ml of water and 1 ml of Dawn…etc. You need to use water at the proper temp ( 40 C or 104 F) as that’s the temp you will wash the bird in and you need hot water to move the product. You then take feathers from the bird to be washed ( not flight or tail feathers obviously) and vigorously agitate the feathers in the water. You may see no response at 1%, at 2% etc….keep climbing until you see the product move easily off of the feathers ( most oil/tanglefoot/whatever)can be removed at somewhere between 1% and 15% Dawn) and that is the percentage you use in your bigger wash tubs. Don’t forget, you also need to be sure that if you rinse that cleaned feather (again, 40C water)you can totally get the Dawn off to the state where the feather will bead when water is applied. Once you have that percentage, you need to calculate for the volume of tub you use. The first time you dunk your hands in 40C water you will think..that’s too isn’t, it’s the bird’s normal body temp and if you use water that is too cool you won’t remove the product ( think of trying to wash greasy dishes in slightly warm water, you can put all of the soap you want in there, but it won’t lift the grease without the heat…then you rinse to squeaky clean..but with bird feathers this means rinsing the feathers till they are dry or “beading”…needs to be seen to believe but a cool phenomenon)

    Again..IF you use the right concentration, you should only have to wash/rinse once.

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