Several oil-covered birds from a Charleston restaurant enter the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center | SC Climate and Environment News

Amy Salem began caring for the oiled osprey the moment she was accepted into the Carolina Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on Aug. 11.

The bird, which is in the West Ashley pond, was hydrated with intravenous fluids and received activated charcoal treatments to treat the effects of ingested oil it might swallow while preening, or brushing its feathers with its beak.

“It was completely covered in it. Its feathers were sticking together,” Selim said. “This is probably the worst case I have ever seen.”

Ospreys are huge white eagle-like birds with black markings on their wings. It is not an endangered species but is protected by the Migratory Species Act.

Ospreys are unique because they feed on live fish and can dive to catch them, which is what Salem said it was likely because the one who was in the care of a rehab center ended up in the pond. Two green herons were also rescued from the pond and were treated in a hospital Carolina Wildlife Rehabilitation CenterIt is a nonprofit organization with locations in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Charlotte.

When covered in oil, other birds are unable to regulate their temperature and eat, among other obvious problems such as pain and discomfort.

For more than 40 years, a pair of ospreys have been returning to nest in the old village

The oil in the pond next to Ashley Crossing Drive came from the West Ashley restaurant Rio Chico, located at 1975 Magwood Drive. Citizens of the neighborhood notified the Higher Commission’s Department of Health and Environmental Oversight, and the state agency visited the pond with an inspector from the City of Charleston’s Stormwater Management Division.

On August 12, the city issued a Rio Chico Notice of Infringement and gave the restaurant one week to rectify the situation.

“I think it’s important for the restaurant industry to remember how important proper disposal is,” said Stormwater Management Director Matthew Fountain, who estimates he receives 10 to 12 calls about “illegal dumping” from restaurants each year. “It’s great if someone tells us because then we can stop it.”

Rio Chico manager Victor Castro said a broken kitchen line caused a mixture of grease and water to travel from the restaurant through the parking lot and into a rainwater drain that feeds into the pool.

IMG_1348. jpg

Victor Castro, director of the grease trap at Rio Chico, says the restaurant uses it to get rid of excess grease. Parker Milner / Staff

About 30 feet or so between the restaurant and the storm drain is a grease trap, where Castro said the restaurant’s excess grease is deposited and picked up about once a month.

“Because it rained a lot last week, it went really, really fast all the way,” Castro, who has worked on Rio Chico for 18 years, said while referring to the Aug. 15 storm drain. We have the container there, so there’s no reason for us to dump oil on the street.”

Project manager James Outten confirmed that Rio Chico has hired Moran Environmental Recovery to lead the cleanup effort. Otten, who first visited the site on August 15, was unable to explain what these efforts would entail.

Rio Chico has not been fined, and the City of Charleston will reassess the situation on August 19. Fountain said whether the oil was dumped on purpose or as a result of accidental runoff is not the city’s immediate concern.

“Either way, we just say, ‘Hey, we need to get this stuff out of our waterway,'” Fountain said, discussing what to expect from Rio Chico next week. “

For 3 decades, it has protected SC's bald eagles and endangered species.  Now is the time to retire.

Other injured animals have been found in the pond since the osprey and green heron were rescued.

Salem said two Anhingas—two long-tailed birds that are sometimes called rattlesnake birds—were on their way to the rehabilitation center on Aug. 15, and several turtles will soon be transferred to a local facility. A crocodile was also exposed to oil.

Some animals did not survive the spill, including a hawk and two waterfowl.

Green Heron post wash.jpg

Two green herons are resting after washing. The birds were rescued from a pond near West Ashley’s Rio Chico restaurant. Carolina Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

The green heron and the osprey remain stable, but they are not out of the woods yet. According to Slim, the birds have gone through multiple washes — a grueling process that may require anesthesia — and will be in a rehabilitation center for weeks.

Salem indicated that the process of recovering infected animals contaminated with oil continues. More than 20 volunteers have assisted in the rescue operations so far.

“Our concern going forward is simply alleviating environmental concerns,” Salem said. “It’s a really stressful process for the animals.”

Those who wish to contribute to the care of these animals can make a donation to the Carolina Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. For more information on how to donate, visit

SC Restaurant says the COVID virus caused the

Leave a Comment