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come through our clinic doors every year, representing many species.
Permits from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Alaska Department
of Fish and Game allow us to treat all types of birds covered under the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Our
patient may be a tiny chickadee nestling or a majestic bald eagle. We have
even treated surprise visitors like a red-footed booby from
The primary goal of rehabilitation
is to allow the sick or injured bird to recover and return to its normal life
in the wild. We are successful in releasing roughly 50% of the birds that
arrive. Because a bird must function at 100% to compete for a living in the
wild, some remain not releasable even though in stable condition. Those birds
can be placed in licensed educational programs and sanctuaries throughout the
country or can become part of our own education program, becoming ambassadors
for their species to the general public.
Every day, seven days a
week, a trained crew provides basic medical care, prepares food and cleans
mews for the birds in the clinic. We are fortunate in being allowed to use
the warehouse furnished by the International
for treatment of oiled wildlife, which also allows us to provide swim tanks for sea
Karen Higgs visits on a
regular basis to evaluate the patients. Among her many duties, Dr.
Higgs ensures that the proper
medical care is provided by our volunteers.
In the spring of each year, a Baby Bird Class is held to train
interested volunteers to meet the special needs of baby birds. They learn
proper nutrition, handling, and housing techniques, as well as the importance
of avoiding orienting the orphans to humans rather than their own species.
Feeding formulas differ from species to species, and as many birds reach
fledging size in a month's time, literally every calorie must count. Very
young nestlings may require feeding every 15 minutes. When older, young birds
must get practice in foraging and recognizing natural foods.
Each year brings us new knowledge and insight into the way birds learn
and adapt. We find birds to be as distinct in their personalities as people
are, with some more inventive and resourceful than others, able to teach us
in their own way.
Staff and Volunteers examine birds upon arrival.