Birds are often the most numerous vertebrates damaged and rehabilitated in marine oil spills; however, the efficacy of avian rehabilitation is frequently debated and rarely examined experimentally. We compared survival of three radio-marked treatment groups, oiled, rehabilitated (ORHB), un-oiled, rehabilitated (RHB), and un-oiled, non-rehabilitated (CON), in an experimental approach to examine post-release survival of surf scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) following the 2007 M/V Cosco Busan spill in San Francisco Bay. Live encounter-dead recovery modeling indicated that survival differed among treatment groups and over time since release. The survival estimate (±SE) for ORHB was 0.143 ± 0.107 compared to CON (0.498 ± 0.168) and RHB groups (0.772 ± 0.229), suggesting scoters tolerated the rehabilitation process itself well, but oiling resulted in markedly lower survival. Future efforts to understand the physiological effects of oil type and severity on scoters are needed to improve post-release survival of this species.