If you drive a few miles down the road from the University of Delaware, you’ll likely drive right past the avian sanctuary known as the Tri-State Bird Rescue. This center for wildlife rehabilitation takes in injured and diseased birds to give them a sheltered environment where they may heal and someday return to their home in the wild. “Tri-state” may even be an understatement: while the center takes in birds from the three surrounding states, when it comes to returning any lost birds to their homes, I’ve seen birds taken hours outside of the Tri-state area. I am currently a volunteer at Tri-State, having started in December 2015, but my story with them begins much earlier than that.
When I was around eight years old, my cousins and I were playing in my backyard when we found a sick bird. It looked like a robin, and after some time observing its behavior, we could tell that something wasn’t right. My dad, the family’s leading bird expert, was the one to call Tri-State Bird Rescue. They told us to bring the bird in. We found a shoe box, and carefully maneuvered the bird into in so that we could transport it to safety. That was my first time at Tri-State, as one of many concerned citizens delivering birds to their care. This trusted and reputable place had been functioning successfully for some time before I came, but it opened up my eyes to the idea of wildlife rehabilitation. I still remember the card we got a few weeks later explaining that despite their best efforts, our little bird had not made it. I was devastated at first that we weren’t able to do enough, but then I realized that without our intervention and the care of Tri-State Bird Rescue, that bird would not have had a chance. Tri-State gave him one, and that is something that all birds deserve.
The next time we needed Tri-State, I was the one to call. I was not too much older, probably around twelve, and my dog was actually the one to find two injured baby birds in our yard. He was just trying to carry out his routine investigations of our lawn, but whenever he approached the back corner, two adult cardinals began to screech at him, enough to make him hesitate. Observing his behavior, my dad and I took a slow trek out into the grass, afraid of what we might find. I can still picture the pair of baby birds we discovered who had fallen from their nest. One little one was shaking, and the other, while he was lying in an unnatural position on the ground, he was still alive. I had never been good on the phone, but my dad encouraged me to call about the birds, reminding me of our last pleasant experience with Tri-State. It made me sad to remember the last time we had called them about a bird, but the people had been incredibly helpful, kind, and supportive. I called them, and when I got off the phone, I was so glad that I did. They gave me directions on how to use a milk carton, twine, and pine needles to make a make shift nest for the two little birds. I was so excited for the project my dad and I faced that day. I have always loved crafts and making things, but this craft had a real purpose to it. After constructing our nest, we revisited the birds and were happy to find both in better shape. We transported them into the nest and the nest into the tree, the parent cardinals still watching and tweeting at our every move. They were able to calm down a little as we left, knowing their babies had been returned. We didn’t see them again after that day, but I like to think that, whatever happened, we gave them a chance that they would not have gotten without us.
Now I am a volunteer at Tri-State Bird Rescue, and I have the opportunity to see a variety of birds that I would never find in my backyard, with all kinds of injuries. I see firsthand the care the center provides, the way each bird is treated fairly and equally. I get to play a role in many of the chances that this rehabilitation site gives to the lives of birds that caring citizens bring in. I started volunteering because I love animals and I want experience in rehabilitation before I hopefully go to veterinary school someday. While the sight of injured birds there makes me sad, as I watch their progress through the center and their ultimate release back to the wild, I have found volunteering to be one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. It warms my heart that so many concerned citizens think to take their birds here, and I would like to alert anyone unaware of this fantastic center of their ability to make a difference. If bringing in birds isn’t enough, as it wasn’t for me, I encourage all to look into volunteering here and seeing up close the differences being made as new chances are being granted every day.
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