The following articles appeared in the Maryland Yellowthroat,
Resources for Rehabilitating Birds
by Martha F. Waugh
Maryland is fortunate in having many excellent resources for rehabilitating birds and other animals. As spring and summer arrive, the need for these resources peaks. There is a state-wide “help” number, 1-410-260-8540, provided by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, which will supply the name and phone number of the nearest licensed rehabilitator. This service, however, is only available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Natural Resources Police Service maintains a 24 hour phone service at 410-260-8888, but they have made it clear that they will never send out an officer to rescue a bird or other animal. They will, however, provide information about nearby rehabilitators. Wildlife Rescue, Inc (formerly Wild Bird Rescue), a non-profit rehabilitation center in Baltimore County, has a 24 hour number, 443-690-9100, and serves the state. They will offer advice and, if possible, dispatch one of their many volunteers located in the appropriate area to pick up an injured bird.
There are four major Maryland rehabilitators in Maryland: Last Chance Wildlife Center (Frederick County), Noah’s Ark Wildlife Center (Anne Arundel County), Second Chance Wildlife Center (Montgomery County), and Wild Bird Rescue (Baltimore County). In addition, the Eastern Shore is served by Tri-state Bird Rescue and Research, Inc. of Newark, Delaware, one of the largest rehab facilities in the country. Beyond these larger facilities, there are a number of rehabilitators on the list who handle as much as they can through word-of-mouth referrals and would appreciate not having their names and numbers disseminated in public media. The rehabilitators are very cooperative with each other. If a smaller center does not have a flight cage for example, they will transfer a wounded bird to a larger center. Some rehabbers will treat only certain animals and have applied for restricted licenses. Some exclude snakes, some migratory birds, some raptors. Many, but not all, belong to the Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, Inc. which began publishing a referral directory in November of 1999 and is currently working on a web page. A copy can be obtained by writing to P.O. Box 296, Pasadena, MD 21122 or Cnile7@aol.com.
Rehabilitators of birds must have both a state license and a Federal license because of the stringent restrictions against possessing certain birds and animals. In addition, next year rehab specialists will be required to take additional training each year in order to keep their licenses. The Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Assn., anticipating this requirement, sponsored a successful day-long advanced training session this winter. All of the rehab centers are non-profit operations, run by volunteers who love animals. They are in constant need of volunteer help, supplies (from bird seed to fencing to masking tape to old blankets), and money. Volunteers can take training and work with birds as helpers or as student rehabbers or they can perform discrete tasks: build cages, seek donations and grants, or give legal or tax advice.
Most of the rehabbers cite people-interactions and cat and dog bites as the primary sources of injury to birds. “Kidnapping” is one of the most common problems of birds in this season. Well meaning Samaritans find a baby bird or fledgling and assume that it is orphaned. There is a recurring myth that birds will abandon their young if they are touched by humans. Actually, birds have no sense of smell and cannot detect scent. Experts advise moving away from the fledgling or baby and watching from a distance. If the bird is in an unsafe location, move it to a better place, perhaps under a bush. The adult birds will probably come back to its assistance. If a nest has been destroyed by a storm, a new one may be made out of hay, straw, grass or other materials, and placed as close to the original location as possible. Put the babies in the nest and watch for the adults to return.
Birds are often injured by flying into a car or a plate glass window. The important things for all distressed birds is to keep them warm and quiet and away from people and pets. Put a stunned or injured bird in a safe, warm, quiet, and dark place where it can recover. A box with an old blanket over the top would be ideal. A bird could be warmed in your hands or placed under your shirt next to your body. Cover the eyes of an injured or stunned raptor with a towel or jacket. Try to approach the raptor from behind and transfer the bird to a box while pinning the feet. Tape the box shut if you are transporting the bird to a rehab facility.
Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, a condition characterized by crusted material around and eventually over the eyes, is quite serious. Rehabbers advise catching the bird, placing it is a box with a warm cover and getting it a rehab facility quickly. This sounds about as easy as the old advice, “Catch a bird by putting salt on its tail.” However, the bird with this problem can see very little and actually can be caught with some patience and a careful approach. A course of antibiotics has proven to be quite successful, but the bird must be quarantined during the treatment. Opinions are mixed on releasing it back into the wild. The feeder and any water bowls should be disinfected with a bleach and water solution. The ground below them should be swept clean of feces and detritus. Regularly disinfecting feeders and water containers, before seeing birds with the condition, would help to prevent this scourge.
A Bird and Small Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Facility
by Al Haury
I had a recent experience that introduced me to a previously unknown (to me) bird and small animal rescue and rehabilitation facility. One of the Sandy Point State Park Rangers and I were checking out the Bluebird boxes in the park when a couple of people came up and told us about an injured bird at the boat launching area. The Ranger and I went to the area and found a Great Black-backed Gull with a broken wing. The bird made no attempt to move away from us. The Ranger called the Wild Bird Rescue facility in Dundalk and within 3 hours, a volunteer arrived to pick up the bird.
I have since asked for and received some literature about the facility and want to share this information with those of you who have not heard of the place. The following is taken from their brochure. "Wild Bird Rescue is a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for injured, sick and orphaned wildlife and returning these creatures back to the wild. The WBR has a network of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in Maryland who voluntarily care for and release hundreds of animals each year, giving them a second chance at life." The WBR works hand in hand with the Carrie Murray Outdoor Education Campus in Baltimore. This facility is located in Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park and can be reached at 410-396-0808. They have an extensive education program throughout the year.
The WBR published wildlife information, sponsors educational programs, offers training for those interested in becoming wildlife rehabilitators and more. The work is accomplished by volunteers and is supported entirely by donations.
The phone number to contact the WBR is 410-507-0950. Besides letting them know about injured birds, the trained volunteers will answer questions concerning wildlife and will assist the public with wildlife emergencies.
DNR -- Wildlife Problems.
State of Maryland Referral Service: 1-410-260-8540 (9 to 5, Monday through Friday)
The Natural Resources Police: 410-260-8888 (24 hour service)
Wildlife Rescue, Inc (formerly Wild Bird Rescue): 443-690-9100 (24 hour service, may be able to pick-up)
Floyd Pressley -- Birds of prey only
The Phoenix Center for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife
Kathy Glaeser -- waterfowl
Upper Eastern Shore (Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Annes, and Talbot)
Waterfowl: Wildlife R&R, Inc.
Raptors only: Gary Neubaum
Tri-County (Worcester, Somerset, Wicomico)