At Santa Rosa’s Bird Rescue Center, tucked down a quiet lane off Chanate Road, more than 50 people crowd into a narrow hall to learn what they can do to ensure the next generation of Sonoma County’s wild birds, from towhees and kinglets to owls and hawks, get a solid start.
The focus is on the babies, which will begin hatching come springtime. Most of the time, mama and papa birds do the job without anyone’s assistance, but sometimes circumstance — the death of the parents, abandonment, or some other crisis — means the newborns and fledglings won’t make it to adulthood without temporary aid from a human caretaker.
That’s where the rescue center, founded 40 years ago, comes into play. The center has been training baby bird feeders — and other volunteers — season after season for decades. It holds orientations starting in late winter to enroll volunteers in training sessions so they can handle the deluge when it comes. The baby-bird season runs from May 1 into September, with the number of babies coming into the facility topping out at as many as 40 a day. And, like infants, unless they are sleeping, baby birds require nonstop care.
In the 2017 baby-bird season, director of avian care Ashton Kluttz said the facility brought in 1,583 babies, but also was able to ensure 700 fledglings remained in the field via education and its screening process. All told, 2,426 birds moved through the center in 2017, which averages 2,500 to 3,000 avian rescues each year. How 2018 will play out in the wake of October’s firestorms, both in terms of baby birds and adults needing care, remains unknown, but Kluttz and other rescue center workers have already noticed species in their yards that they haven’t seen before. While the goal is to keep healthy babies with their parents, Kluttz said, the center might have to deal with more babies this year if there are no longer safe places for the parents to raise their young.
While the skill set for rearing baby birds is relatively easy to acquire, aspects of it take some getting used to, according to center staffers. Anyone squeamish about meal worms or frozen mice — dubbed “mice-icles” — has a hurdle to overcome, because that’s what’s for dinner.
Those with an overwhelming desire to temporarily mother the babies faces yet another obstacle: Cuddling and cooing is not allowed, since the goal is to keep the babies wild. As volunteer trainer Jamie Davis-Meyer pointed out, from the baby bird’s perspective humans, no matter their good intentions, are essentially “superpredators. They are terrified and you are not comforting. Be here for them, not for your own gratification.”
Caring for the little ones requires a small army working in shifts. Not only are there round-the-clock feedings, but the meals must be prepped, the dishes must be washed, and the laundry must be done. As Davis-Meyer explained to appreciative laughter, “It’s like working in the busiest, most disgusting restaurant ever. You will prepare the food for the patron, feed the patron, clean up after the patron, and then the patron poops in the dishes … but it won’t matter because it’s so much fun.”
The orientation includes a tour of the rescue facility, which is outfitted for every bird-borne contingency. There’s a brooder for naked babies; a kitchen; an exam room and intensive-care unit; outdoor aviaries where rehabilitated birds receive “flight conditioning;” the Sanctuary, a flight hallway for smaller raptors and other species, including owls and northern flickers; and “soft-release sheds,” where the babies and rehabbed adults are kept in baskets outdoors until they can be released into the wild.
All About Quakes
5 Things to Do When The Shaking Starts
- Duck, cover, hold: Duck or drop down on the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table and hold on. Be prepared to move with it.
- If indoors, stay there: At least, until the shaking stops. If you’re outside, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees and power lines and drop to the ground. If you’re in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place.
- After the shaking stops: Get to a safe place outdoors if you think the structure you’re in is in danger of collapsing. Provide first aid for anyone slightly injured and seek medical attention for anyone seriously injured.
- Assume there will be aftershocks: Secure anything heavy that could fall, and eliminate fire hazards.
- Gas and water: Listen to the radio for instructions regarding turning off gas and water. If you smell gas, or think it is leaking, shut it off. Only a professional should turn it back on.
6 Things To Now To Prepare For A Disaster
- Contacting loved ones: Create a plan for how you will contact one another after the quake, such as establishing an out-of-area contact who can help coordinate the locations of family members and other information should you become separated. Make sure children learn these phone numbers and addresses and know the emergency plans.
- Important papers: Keep copies of important documents at the house of your out-of-area contact or keep important documents and valuables in a fireproof storage box or safe deposit box.
- Disaster supplies kit: Keep a smaller version in your vehicle. Families with children should have each child create their own personal pack.
- Know evacuation routes: Establish several different routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed.
- Plan for pets: Animals are typically not allowed in places where food is served, so you will need to have a place to take your pets if you have to go to a shelter.
- Don’t run out of gas: Always run on the top half of the tank, not on the bottom half.
Things To Remember
Water may be in short supply.
Natural gas and electric power may be out for days or weeks.
Garbage and sewage services may be interrupted.
Telephone, Internet, cell phone, and wireless communications may be overloaded or unavailable.
Mail service may be disrupted or delayed.
Gasoline may be in short supply, and rationing may be necessary.
Bank operations may be disrupted, limiting access to cash, ATMs, or online banking.
Grocery, drug, and other retail stores may be closed or unable to restock shelves. Businesses may sustain damage and disruption—many small businesses require a long time to reopen or do not survive disasters.
Your income may be affected — payroll checks or direct deposits may be delayed.
For more information, go here
Source: County of Sonoma