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home : current news : current news July 18, 2018

4/10/2018 1:03:00 PM
Native Bird Care rescue center expands
Grebes in a water pool at Native Bird Care. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
+ click to enlarge
Grebes in a water pool at Native Bird Care. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

Over the past nine years, Native Bird Care of Sisters, a nonprofit rescue center founded by Elise Wolf, has grown substantially. With the closing of a large wildlife rehabilitation facility in Bend about two years ago, Native Bird Care went from caring for 30 birds a year to over 200 rescues.

The rescue facility offers specialized care and rehabilitation for shore, water, and songbirds, with the goal of releasing healthy, hearty, and sound individuals back into the wild.

"Native Bird Care may be small in perspective, but the work we do is critical. The needs of the birds we work with are often underestimated," Wolf said.

Each species is unique, and the rescue center must cater to each type of bird and their appropriate needs in care and housing.

In 2014 the rescue center built a 500-square-foot indoor bird space that functions as the "baby bird room" as well as the recovery center. The center also has a dedicated intake room that includes a bird-washing tub set up specifically for waterbirds.

Outdoor changes saw five new aviaries each designed and sized for specific bird types, from a hummingbird house to a large enough aviary for flickers. The center now has three waterbird pools with filtered and recirculating water systems, and a specialized swan pool.

In 2014, Wolf became the caregiver of a trumpeter swan she named Grace, who was suffering from a fishing lure embedded in its mouth. At the time she made use of what she had.

"Last year Heart of Oregon donated the labor to build one of the aviaries for Native Bird Care," Wolf told The Nugget.

In the past Wolf has specialized in waterbirds, providing the unique and specialized care they needed.

"I have really expanded on my experience and knowledge in songbird care," she said. "I enjoy working with these extraordinary birds. The big issues with songbirds are window strikes and cats. But I've had good success with window injuries when I get the bird quick enough."

In daylight, birds crash into windows because they see reflections of vegetation or see through the glass to potted plants or something similar on the other side.

"If you have window issues, there are now a wide number of solutions available, from easy and simple to professionally designed. Retaining a view is now easy with certain solutions," Wolf noted.

Spring and summer are the busiest time of year for bird rehabbers, but even in the winter Wolf gets a variety of birds, including migrating waterbirds like loons that land in the snow. Each species has certain facility and care needs, and many are not easy to care for.

From babies to adults with injuries, Wolf's rescue center provides care. Often, this includes medical care - treating wounds, infections, broken bones, parasite infections, concussions, etc. Wildlife rehabbers are essentially nurses, paramedics, physical therapists, husbandry specialists, and mothers - all at the same time. Babies get raised with food and habitats that they need for good development: specialty housing, diets, flight cages. Birds with breaks must be treated and the injuries set and wrapped. Birds who have been mauled by a cat need to have wounds washed out, stitched, and go on antibiotics. Birds in poor condition usually need treatments for parasites.

Native Bird Care also consults with rescuers over the phone, determining if a bird needs care or consulting on how to renest or reunite with a parent.

"We provide advice on protecting birds from windows and cats," Wolf said. "And spend a lot of time out relocating geese off buildings, capturing the injured, and putting ad-hoc nests up for families who have lost theirs to wind or raids.

"Caring for birds is challenging, and some are just downright hard. But this work is so rewarding. It is amazing to get to know a bird at the individual level; they are all beautiful and unique. Birds need our help more than ever right now."

The blog and Facebook pages have pictures and stories of the variety of birds Wolf has rescued.

Baby bird season is just around the corner and people can do a lot to help birds. Native Bird Care has a couple of upcoming events for people to learn about birds and participate in their lives.

On May 6, she will be hosting a "High Tea" fundraiser for baby bird season. And, if you love birds, volunteers are always needed for everything from aviaries to fundraising.

This coming Saturday, April 14, Wolf will be at Sisters Feed & Supply for their Wild Bird Nesting Talk event from 11 a.m. to noon. The event will present habitat and nest box ideas for our Central Oregon birds. Elise will do a quick presentation on our local birds with pictures and video and will offer advice on how to create a backyard bird haven. For more information, contact Native Bird Care at or Sisters Feed & Supply at 541-549-4151.

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