In discussions about the value of cleaning and rehabilitating oiled wildlife, much attention is focused on the costs to provide such care. Several references have made widely varying claims regarding these costs, yet none have provided a detailed accounting of costs associated with rehabilitation. Therefore, this paper focuses on three oil spill responses conducted in northern California (M/V Kure, M/V Stuyvesant, and S.S. Jacob Luckenbach) since 1997. We examine the costs associated with wildlife care using detailed accounting provided by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. We include all variable costs (including labor and travel expenses for staff at the facility, facility expenses such as utilities and other indirect costs, and supplies) and compare these amounts to the numbers of birds collected live and dead, as well as the number treated and released. We discuss other fixed and variable costs that are not included, as well as characteristics of the spill responses that impacted rehabilitation costs. Finally, we discuss the results with regard to natural resource damage assessments, the costs of restoring birds in the wild, and non-economic criteria relevant to an evaluation of the value of oiled bird rehabilitation. We conclude that costs and benefits vary based on factors that include the temporal nature of the spill, the level of preparation, and the behavior of the responsible party.

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