Birds of New York City Get New Rehab Center
New York City has opened its first wildlife rehabilitation and education center, a much-needed facility in a city that hosts more than 355 bird species on their annual migration along the East Coast flyway, in addition to the multitude of birds that are permanent city residents. The non-profit Wild Bird Fund and its team of dedicated volunteers has been providing emergency care for more than a thousand birds and animals each year in New York City. Working along with Animal General and the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine, licensed rehabilitation volunteers take the injured birds, squirrels, and other small creatures into their own homes to care for them. The new 1300-square-foot rehabilitation center on Columbus Avenue between 87th and 88th street will provide a temporary sanctuary, with the emphasis on rehabilitation for reintroduction into the wild wherever possible.
Rita McMahon and Karen Heidgerd started the non-profit Wild Bird Fund more than a decade ago, and the need continues to grow. Birds crash into windows, become disoriented, dehydrated or fall out of their nests. Others are victims of humans who simply don’t want the birds around. Some people coat their windowsills with sticky glue to discourage the birds, but the glue coats the birds’ feathers and causes them injury.
With the new facilities, the Wild Bird Fund hopes to expand its capacity for assisting injured birds by up to fifty percent. To meet this goal the organization is looking for additional volunteers to feed baby birds and carry out the many duties required to rehabilitate rescued birds. They also need donations to help toward obtaining the equipment and consumable supplies necessary to provide adequate care.
The center already has more than 60 birds and other animals to care for, and now that the first rehabilitation center has been established, McMahon hopes to fulfill her five-year plan of having intake centers in all five boroughs of the city. At the recent Wild Bird Fund gala, author Jonathan Franzen noted that “There are roughly 100 billion birds in the world, but the 7 billion strong human population is making it harder and harder for those birds to survive. Like it or not, we are the stewards of the birds now. We claimed the planet.” Food for thought indeed!