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The place for wild birds.


What do wildlife rehabilitators do?
What can I do to help wildlife before they are injured?
What if I find an injured bird?
What happens when I bring a bird to you?
What does it cost to rehabilitate birds?
Why should we help wild birds?

Q: What do wildlife rehabilitators do?

Technology assisting nature at its most fragile: an injured Ruby-Throated Hummingbird recovering in our incubator.A: Wildlife rehabilitators provide direct, hands-on care for wild animals in distress, allowing them to regain their health and return to the wild. The Place for Wild Birds, Inc., rehabilitates birds with problems such as broken bones, wounds, and avian diseases. Some birds that are brought to us are orphaned and need to be hand-raised.

The Place for Wild Birds, Inc., cares for the physical needs of its patients, meeting their specific medical, nutritional, and housing requirements. Each bird has an individual medical and feeding program tailored to meet the needs of its particular species, age, and state of health. In order to provide the finest care possible, we work closely with local veterinarians, attend wildlife seminars, read the latest scientific journals, and network with other rehabilitators and wildlife clinics.

We must also consider the psychological aspects of rehabilitating wildlife in order to minimize the stress caused by captivity while preparing each animal for a successful existence in the wild. It is necessary for us to be familiar with the natural history of each species, including its characteristic habitat, feeding mannerisms, migration activity, and breeding behavior.

Support feeding a released patient, an orphaned juvenile wren.Our goal is to do what is best for the individual bird, and its species as a whole. We know that the animal in our care is wild, and the primary objective of our therapy is to return this wild animal to its natural environment, strengthening its native population.

Bird rehabilitation is hard work, but we are rewarded at release time when a bird that we have helped finally flies free again!

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Q: What can I do to help wildlife before they are injured?

Someone's pet cat orphaned these baby robins while one was still an egg.  Here they are three days old only because a neighbor found them and brought them to us in time.A: Birds that come to us for rehabilitation have a variety of problems and, unfortunately, too many of them are caused by contact with humans and their pets. One of the most important things that you can do to help songbirds is to keep cats indoors. Cats are imported pets (not native wildlife) and are directly responsible for a great decline in our songbird population. It is estimated that at least 3 billion American birds are killed by cats each year! We at The Place for Wild Birds adore cats and have many beloved felines ourselves, but we keep them indoors knowing that they will live longer and healthier lives -- and that they will leave the wildlife alone.

Another way to help birds is to think of the effects your actions may have on the environment. Remember that when you use poison to control insects, mice and rats, you may be harming the birds that regularly eat these pests as part of their natural diet.

Don't leave dangerous solutions or products around like antifreeze, car oil, cooking oil, styrofoam chips, or lawn and garden chemicals. Many toxic substances that we carelessly use and throw away may look like food to wildlife, and can be deadly when ingested.

Cut apart the plastic rings on six-pack holders, and never dispose of used fishing line without first cutting the line into small pieces.

You can help prevent birds from flying into windows by decorating the glass with decals or sun-catchers.

And before cutting down trees or bushes in the spring and summer, check them for nests. By postponing such activities until fall, you may help a pair of birds fledge their young!

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Q: What if I find an injured bird?

A: If you find an injured, sick, or orphaned bird, put it in a box in a dark, quiet place far away from children and pets. Do not handle the bird except to secure its safety. Do not give food or water until you have received instructions from a Wildlife Rehabilitator. Liquids can drown a debilitated or baby bird. Feeding a bird the wrong food (including milk or other dairy products) can also kill it.

Call a Wildlife Rehabilitator right away for instructions. Some birds can be safely put back where they were found, but many birds are already in trouble by the time you pick them up. (And please note: children should not handle wildlife. If you are a child who has found a bird in trouble, please get a grown-up to help you.)

Don't wait to call! Most baby birds must be fed special diets every 15 minutes from dawn until dusk! And the sooner we get a bird, the better chance it has.

In cases where babies can be placed back in the wild and you have touched them, their parents will not hurt or abandon them because of "human scent." Unlike mammals, songbirds have virtually no sense of smell, and are extremely good parents to their young. But always check with a rehabilitator before doing anything. There are many other important factors that influence whether a bird can be put back where it was found.

You should not try to raise orphaned wild animals yourself, and please don't bring injured wildlife to places such as pet stores or zoos! For many reasons, the public may not legally keep wildlife. Our wildlife is best handled by rehabilitators and wildlife clinics; that is their specialty and what they are licensed to do.

The names of rehabilitators and wildlife clinics can be obtained from your state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Police, the Dept. of Environmental Management, the Audubon Society, and many local veterinarians and veterinary hospitals. Please check our Contact page for some suggestions.

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Q: What happens when I bring a bird to you?

An injured Baltimore Oriole (upper left) recuperates in custom-built quarters.A: When you bring a bird to us, it will be identified, examined, and given the appropriate individual treatment. Each bird has its own record on file that also includes your name and address, and you may call for an update on the bird's condition.

Very sick or young birds are placed in incubators or warm indoor cages. Older and recovering birds that need exercise go outside into large flight cages, with minimal human contact before release.

Each bird's injury or disease is properly managed, and the correct diet is fed to each bird. When surgery and X-rays are needed, local veterinarians often donate these services.

In order to monitor their success in the wild, some birds are banded before they are released.

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Q: What does it cost to rehabilitate birds?

A: Every bird that is rehabilitated by The Place for Wild Birds, Inc., will stay an average of 3-4 weeks in our care at a minimum cost to us of $75.00 per bird. Rehabilitators are not paid by the state or federal government and rely solely on donations to help pay for the food, medicine, and caging that are vital for the successful rehabilitation of wildlife.Some hungry mouths at The Place for Wild Birds, Inc.

Each year it costs more for us to care for wild birds. At the same time, as we lose a greater number of our valuable bird species forever, rehabilitation becomes an increasingly meaningful and necessary human endeavor.

In order to continue our importaint work rehabilitating wild birds, we need your financial support. If you would like to join in our effort to help the wild birds of our region, please click here for more information.

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Q: Why should we help wild birds?

A: Modern life can be busy, and we humans are often caught up in our jobs and daily family activities. Living in our houses and driving in our cars, it is easy to become separated from nature and forget how important it is to our very existence. But it is a fact that the human race has evolved and still lives in an ecosystem that includes all living and non-living things. We are part of a "biotic community," dependent on the living things around us for our survival. Wild birds are an example of living things that we affect, and that have an effect on us.

Besides being remarkable, interesting, beautiful creatures that are full of life, adding layers of color, sound and motion to our gardens and wilderness areas, our wild birds are sensitive barometers of the health of the environment. What we do to ourselves, we also do to them, but the effects are often visible far sooner and far more profoundly in wild bird populations.

Some birds are farmers, in a way. Nectar sippers help pollinate many of our prized flowering plants, both wild and cultivated. Seed eaters help to spread seeds of wild plants. And carrion-eaters help natural decomposition, which feeds the earth and enriches the soil.

Birds also function as natural pest control, serving as means of "constant suppression," our quiet (and sometimes not so quiet!) partners working behind the scenes to control insects and vermin. Raptors such as hawks and owls are nature's mousetraps. Aerial insectivores such as swallows and swifts help control bugs which can carry disease or devour plants.

Man's increasing presence on earth does not always have a positive impact on the wild birds around us. Some species are already extinct; others are declining rapidly and soon may also disappear. Low-profile, non-exotic (to us), and receiving very little publicity, our native species of wild birds are valuable in ways that are not always obvious, or even measurable, until they are gone.

If we are to survive as a species, humans will need to stay aware of the natural world that surrounds us. Man has evolved in the company of wild birds, and by helping them to survive, we are also helping ourselves to survive.

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Many other questions about birds and wildlife often go unasked because we think we already know the answers. Would you like to find out how much you really know? If so, visit our Myths & Misconceptions section.


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This website and all its contents belong to The Place for Wild Birds, Inc.
Copyright © 2002, all rights reserved. Reproduce only with permission.
All photographs by Walter S. Bezaniuk. Most illustrations by Kathleen Frisbie.
Site design and some illustrations by Sara.