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