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The Hubpages Birdwatcher's Club: Sick and Injured Birds and the National Audubon Society

Updated on November 7, 2012
Mallard
Mallard | Source

What to Do in a Bird Emergency?

You will eventually come across an abandoned or injured bird. Here’s a little help for wise choices.

Most injured or sick birds are best left on their own. Some will recover and some won’t, but it is part of natural order and selection. However, if you feel it best to help in your situation, make sure that you contact reliable people in the business. The local ASPCA, Audubon Society, Humane Society, veterinarians, or State wildlife officials, such as game wardens, will be able to steer you in the right direction. All states have wild bird rescues or rehabilitators, but you will usually have to take the bird there. Caring for a sick or injured bird is specialized, so leave it up to those that have the experience and proper tools.

Fledgling Eastern Kingbird
Fledgling Eastern Kingbird | Source

Baby Birds

Under Federal law, all birds are protected, except House Sparrows and European Starlings. It is illegal to keep protected birds or animals in captivity unless one is licensed to do so.

A baby bird that appears to be on its own is often thought to be an orphan. That is usually unlikely, as a parent is generally in the wings, and you should not be concerned, unless you know for a fact that the babies are not being tended. Most times, it is best to leave the little one(s) alone. If a young one has fallen from its nest, put it back, if you can. Birds have a poor sense of smell, so it is a fallacy that parents won’t want the baby if it has been handled by a person. If the whole nest is down, try to replace it. There are times when intervention is necessary. I once helped with a baby robin that was on the ground and covered with ants. Its sibling was already dead, for groups of ants will eat anything alive that is downed. The parent was ignoring the barely living baby, which made a nice recovery.

A Captured Bird

Sometimes properly behaved cats and dogs will capture a bird. If the bird is still alive and appears unhurt, chances are good that it is not seriously harmed. Simply release the bird or return the baby to the area of the nest, if possible.

Early Days of National Audubon Society

The National Audubon Society preserves America’s natural world. George Bird Grinnell, then editor of Forest and Stream in 1886, formed the Audubon Society, to protest the wholesale slaughter of birds by market gunners and for their plumage. The public was so responsive that Grinnell was immediately overwhelmed and disbanded it. However, many others took up the challenge and state societies were formed. Eventually, through the work of these individual societies, in 1940 the name was changed to the National Audubon Society. Back in those days, they hired wardens for the protection of breeding sites, first at Matinicus Rock in Maine in 1900. By the 1930’s, the society was sponsoring scientific research for endangered species, most notably Ivory-billed Woodpeckers and Roseate Spoonbills. Today, they have educational centers, field seminars, summer ecology camps, conferences, workshops and publish scientific papers and journals. They publish “American Birds” with terrific articles about the natural world, as well as gorgeous photos. They also have “Audubon Activist,” a bi-monthly that covers critical environmental issues.

Killdeer
Killdeer | Source

Christmas Bird Count

The important Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 and continues through today. This was started by Frank Chapman to protest the traditional holiday slaughter in the Northeast, where teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds in one day. The Count runs from December 17 to January 3. It is an inclusive count for North America, several countries in South America, the Carribean, and Central America. The data collected shows critical information about winter distribution of resident birds, so that researchers can compile changes in bird ranges and population.

Any birder that wants to participate should contact their local Audubon chapter or write to the Christmas Bird Count Editor at American Birds. Each count is a 15 mile in diameter circle, and a modest fee is collected to defray expenses. You can go so far as to count birds in an area by dogsled, or count the birds that visit your feeders. Everyone is important in their participation.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | Source

Audubon Month and Birdathons

During Audubon Month (every April), the National Audubon Society sponsors Birdathons across the country. These counts run between April 1 and May 30, which depends on peak migrations at certain locations. Sponsors pledge money for each bird spotted during the chosen 24-hour period for each participant. Participants also compete for awards and prizes that are donated. Proceeds help support the Society’s conservation projects, educational and lobbying efforts, as well as research and bird sanctuaries. Anyone can participate. Contact the Audubon Birdathon Co-ordinator at National HQ, 950 Third Avenue, NY, NY 10022, tel. # 212-832-3200 for dates and locations of the events.

Red-Winged Blackbirds
Red-Winged Blackbirds | Source

Audubon TV Specials

There are also Audubon TV Specials, documentaries about the natural world, while stressing the need for continued conservation. There are four new programs each year, which first airs on TBS, then runs on PBS stations over the summer. Videocassettes are available for the use of libraries and schools. Contact WETA-TV, P.O. Box 2626, Washington, DC 20013 for more information. I would love to see all teachers order videos to teach their children all they can about birds and conservation.

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove | Source

Audubon Adventurers

Children in grades 3 through 6 can become involved in Audubon Adventurers to learn more about the natural world. Contact Audubon Ecology Camps and Workshops, 613 Riversville Rd., Greenwich, CT 06831. They also offer a variety of topics at different locations that range in children’s activities to some sessions that offer college credit.

Painted Turtle
Painted Turtle | Source

Local Audubon Chapters

You can also become a member of the nearest local chapter of the National Audubon Society. They offer field trips, a newsletter, films and talks, bird walks, and you get the company of people with similar interests. Membership will also give you six issues of Audubon Magazine and Audubon Monthly. With membership, you will also be able to access the National Audubon Nature Center. For membership info, contact the Membership Data Center, P.O. Box 2667, Boulder, CO 80321.

The Society operates a number of sanctuaries, but not all of them are open to the public, as it disturbs nesting and breeding wildlife. Not all are accessible, either. Make arrangements with the wardens prior to trying to gain entry to the sanctuaries. Contact the National Audubon Society Sanctuary Dept. at R 1, Box 294, West Cornwall Rd., Sharon, CT 06069, tel. # 203-364-0048.

Great Egret
Great Egret | Source
Great Egret and Mallards
Great Egret and Mallards | Source
Wild Sunflower
Wild Sunflower | Source

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You're right, hyphen. It's mostly people without pets that don't really understand.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      My sympathies are with you. Many people do not understand how difficult this grief can be.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hyphen, I am so sorry about hyphen. I understand your loss all right, I just had to put down my greyhound of 12, also last week. At least I still have the lake and the birds!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      You gave some great advice. I love the photographs and learned a lot. I didn't know birds were on the Protected list but am thrilled to learn that useful piece of information.

      By the way, my beloved cockatiel Hyphen died last Saturday. He had been with me 21 years. I miss him so much that sometimes I hear his sweet voice out loud. As a bird lover, I know you understand.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I appreciate your kudos, gamby. With such a great audience, it keeps me going.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Connie. I am anxiously awaiting the Fall Lineup!

    • gamby79 profile image

      gamby79 4 years ago

      Thanks for the wealth of information aviannovice. Always enjoy your hubs and the magnificent photos!

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Excellent as usual Deb! This information is so important and useful I voted up, beautiful and awesome. I love all your great photos and the way you have presented the info. Good stuff!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thank you, TheKatsMeow. I was a volunteer rehabber for several years with Tri-State Bird rescue when I was in DE, and worked with many baby birds.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, CC. That is correct. Life was so much different as we now know it. There were days when animals could roam about, and not be bothered by anything. They have lost so much habitat and so many homes, they have been driven "underground," so to speak. I am fortunate to be able to get so close to them.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Mycee. There are a lot of wonderful organizations that do so much for the world of nature. I will be including more, eventually, on the other organizations.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Johan! There is always something to be done for animals everywhere. We still have so many on the brink of extinction.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I had heard that about the zoo, Mhatter. Thanks.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Suhail, it is such a shame that cats go into the wild to do this, but they are hunters by nature. It saddens me to see them kill birds, but we have no control over it. I cannot say anything regarding K2, but I think you know how I feel...

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      whonunuwho, I didn't know that you painted...you will have to fill me in on that. Thanks for the great thumbs up!

    • TheKatsMeow profile image

      TheKatsMeow 4 years ago from Canada

      This is a very useful Hub so I voted it up. A lot of people see young birds and often wonder what to do, I have noticed a lot of people in my area wondering about this... so it's great to hear your suggestions.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      I love birds - they are such magical creatures. I once read in Bill Bryson's book "A Walk in the Woods" that our forests used to be really noisy. In fact, it's an anomaly that they're quiet now. They used to be filled with singing birds and now, because people have effectively hunted them so much, many species sing no more. Oh, that wrenches my heart. I love birdsong, I love their beauty, freedom and symbolism. Thank you for sharing yet another beautiful hub, full of wonderful information. :)

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Hi Deb. Another interesting and wonderful article about the Birdwatchers Club series.. i never knew the protection too. amazing!

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Great artice that highlights the first world country you live in. We in SA are also doing our bit but much needs to be done. Your photos as usual are great!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      The SF zoo is very responsive.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Another great hub on birds by Aviannovice. Some great information in here. Haven't seen any injured or emaciated bird during my excursions, but have run into this neighbourhood cat that preys on baby birds. I am thinking of releasing K2, my Kuvasz boy, on it every time I see it to discourage it from prowling freely for the nestlings.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

      Interesting information and beautiful work about our birds. This is one of my favorite subjects and ones that I paint. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...I'll get right on that!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, everything except European Starlings and House Sparrows. Both are non-indigenous birds(they came from Europe). Glad that you enjoyed it. So you can take in the sparrows and the starlings...

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That was interesting....I didn't know all birds were protected under Federal Law....really? You mean the government did something right for a change? How cool! Thanks for the education!

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