A day at Bird TLC

Bird TLC is a wildbird rehab center in Anchorage. It’s almost always busy there because there are almost always birds who have been injured and need help. And now that it’s baby bird season… well, you can’t begin to imagine how many birds get orphaned this time of year. Goslings and ducks of all sorts try to cross the busy roads of Anchorage and inevitably some moms get hit, along with some of the babes. The remainder come to us to feed and care for until they can be released. We also get every kind and variety of other bird that nests in Anchorage, from swallows to juncos to redpolls and back up and down the ladder of size and species. We do our best to care for them all because the people at Bird TLC really believe that caring for these creatures is a loving and good thing to do. While eagles and owls and raptors of all sorts catch our eye and imagination because of their size and beauty, the littlest of birds can also impress with their song and courage and bright, inquisitive attitude. So here’s my report about what happened at Bird TLC yesterday on my shift. BTW, we are all volunteers there doing this simply because we love the birds. If you want to help, we take food donations of salmon and red meat – no halibut please, the birds don’t eat it – as well as monetary donations. We may be volunteers but utilities and rent and medicine costs a lot of money. You can go to http://www.birdtlc.net and find out how to help support our efforts to care for these wonderful creatures.

We had to put an eagle down today. Always a sad moment at the center. Up close they are such magnificent birds and we always want to think we can save them all. I console myself with the thought that we give them a quicker and more merciful death than they would have in the wild but it’s still tough to hold them while they put the medicine into the vein. On the other hand, I spent all morning feeding baby swallows that had been orphaned. I’d barely get my regular work started than they would start gaping and I’d have to stop what I was doing and go over and feed them from a little wooden stick with the baby bird food we make up. They are too cute, all wide open mouth and closed eyes, chirping like crazy. And the minute their little belly is full, the mouth closes and they drop down on top of their brother and fall instantly to sleep. We also set a gosling loose who was old enough to join other geese at Potter’s Marsh. He kept trying to follow the man releasing him back to the car and they kept picking him up and placing him further and further into the weeds. There were geese nearby and he just needed to get a chance to see them and join them and he would pretty much forget about us humans. But getting him to focus was a chore. The guy kept trying to run back to the car faster than the gosling could get there but never quite made it until he put the bird out into the reeds as close as he could get to the wild geese and then made a beeline back to his car. The gosling never re-emerged so we assume he finally saw the other geese and joined them. Meanwhile, back at the clinic, five more orphans arrived. We think they are scaups. When birds are small, it’s sometimes hard to tell. They were put in a basket, given food, water and a heat lamp and seemed content. Baby moms from our list of trained momsl came and got the hairy woodpecker, the swallows and the robin. The baby moms will care for the little birds until they can be released back into nature. I came home at 1 PM smelling of old salmon that I’d cut up for the eagles and smelly red meat that I’d chopped up for the crow and smiled at the morning I’d gotten to spend with all the birds.