I volunteered more than 25 hours at Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico last month, including 10 hours of classroom training, 15 hours of on the job training in the clinic, and a few more hours studying their training manual and taking the open book exam. I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned in those several hours, things I wouldn’t have likely learned elsewhere. Here’s my list of top 15 things I DID NOT KNOW before my volunteer adventure, and not in any particular order. Did YOU know?
- Of the yearly 2000 intakes, most are injured, sick, or orphaned birds (as opposed to mammals).
- Baby ducklings get lonely easily and need a mirror in their tub so their reflection will keep them company; they also need a stuffed animal to snuggle up to for warmth.
- Baby birds don’t do well when fed applesauce or oatmeal; they can’t process the food.
- Most birds don’t do well when fed dog food or cheerios; they can’t process the food.
- Females rule the raptor world, whereas males are larger than females in other bird species.
- White doves used for release during ceremonies (i.e. weddings or funerals) are actually white homing pigeons, but they don’t all make it back home; some suffer from car and window strikes or hungry hawks.
- Domesticated birds, including white homing pigeons, cannot fend for themselves in the wild.
- Birds need a dark quiet place to rest and relax for several hours before being looked at for treatment; this reduces their anxiety.
- Birds being cared for in the clinic need a towel placed in front of their cage so they don’t see what’s going on in the clinic; this also reduces their anxiety.
- Baby ducklings need to be warm during the first few weeks after they hatch and can be kept in a box under a brooding lamp.
- According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA), it is illegal to collect bird feathers or nests of protected species without a permit.
- It’s easier to catch and weigh a bird (not including Raptors) by covering their head with a light weight towel or wash cloth; they are more calm when they can’t see what’s going on around them.
- 33% of injured birds are cat-caught, meaning they are injured because they were caught by a house cat in the area.
- Birds abandoning their babies after being handled by humans is a myth; birds don’t abandon their babies if handled by humans (i.e. placed back up in the nest they fell out of).
- Caretakers must go to great lengths to avoid imprinting young birds because birds that have imprinted on humans are unsuitable for release back into the wild.
Haven’t had the chance to volunteer for a wildlife rescue facility? Take a look at my personal experience and see if this doesn’t have you seeking out an opportunity for yourself!