2011-03-15 "Locals help native birds get back on the wing" by Mischa Lopiano from "Oak Leaf" newspaper of Sonoma State University
Volunteer and SRJC student Kai Schade exhibits Pisces the osprey for visitors.
The vast expanse of wooded land below Fountain Grove serves as more than just a beautiful piece of Santa Rosa wilderness. Nestled away in the trees and brush is a sanctuary for ill and injured birds, and it's a perfect location for the Bird Rescue Center to help these beautiful animals close to home.
The Bird Rescue Center is run by volunteers and dedicated staff, who show a passion for protecting wildlife. Although all the birds at the center are native to Sonoma County, most people wouldn't know they existed in Santa Rosa due to their rarity. Red-Tail hawks, great horned owls, turkey vultures and ospreys are a few of the 19 birds that are currently in the residency program at the rescue center, and almost all were found too injured or ill to support themselves in the wild. The majority of the birds taken to the BRC go through their rehabilitation program and are then released back into our local wildlife, however, some must be kept at the center in order to survive.
Kai Schade, an SRJC student and volunteer at the rescue center, loves working with the birds at the center and feels that the opportunity is too rare to miss.
"The best part is that I won't get this experience anywhere else. You don't often get the chance to handle live raptors anywhere without years of training."
The Bird Rescue Center is located just a mile up Chanate Road near Sutter Medical Center, tucked away from the main road to provide a peaceful location with great scenery for the visitors as well as the birds. The facility is open seven days a week, year round, but to fully enjoy the experience of seeing the rescued birds, the center has a visitor's day from 1-4 p.m. twice a month on Saturdays.
On visitor's day, handlers bring the birds out to allow up-close viewing and great photo opportunities. Some have had trauma to their wings, and have cages specially made to accommodate the injuries. Surrounded by trees and outdoor perches for the birds to rest on, the location seemed ideal for any bird that can't survive outside of captivity.
Staff members are warm and friendly, and they treat the birds with utmost care and compassion. Upon entering the center there is an array of memorabilia displaying the history of birds native to Sonoma County and showing the beauty, diversity and necessity of these animals in the local ecosystem.
"The best thing is gaining knowledge through the volunteer program at the Bird Rescue Center, learning about the local species and how they behave," said Andrew Brusseau, another SRJC student and BRC volunteer. "These reasons and many more are why I continue to volunteer at the Bird Rescue Center and have for over a year. I love it, and I would not change the program a bit."
The center is a great place to learn about Santa Rosa's native bird species and gain first hand experience that can rarely be found elsewhere, and they are always looking for new volunteers. To volunteer or donate, go online to www.birdrescuecenter.org or call (707) 523-2473 (BIRD).