Wildlife Care Center Provides Priceless Care on a Shoestring

Chestnut-backed chickadee nestlings receive initial hydration after their nest on a utility pole was accidentally destroyed while PG&E performed maintenance. Photo: HWCC/BAX.
Chestnut-backed chickadee nestlings receive initial hydration after their nest on a utility pole was accidentally destroyed while PG&E performed maintenance. Photo: HWCC/BAX.

Last year, between the 1160 patients treated at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, and the 440 birds admitted during the botulism outbreak at the Lower Klamath Refuge north of Shasta, life-saving care was provided for 1600 wild animals.

While some patients are more expensive to care for than others, care costs averaged about $70 per patient in 2018. For this meager amount, hundreds of our wild neighbors were successfully treated and released back to the wild. We are proud of being able to do so much on so little.

This remarkable success also feels like a failure, because there’s never more in the bank than is needed to barely get through the month. It is especially challenging to enter the busy Spring wild baby season uncertain of where funding will come from, or if there will be enough. On such a tight budget, with lives on the line, there is no room for cutting corners. We are also trying to expand the care we provide, as well as expand our education and outreach efforts promoting co-existence with our wild neighbors.

When Bird Ally X took over the management of HWCC in 2011, the organization had no full-time staff, a facility that was only sporadically open, and no capacity to provide quality care for more than a few species of raptors and songbirds. Aquatic birds (50 percent of our caseload) were sent 300 miles away to a facility in the Bay Area.

We have since developed the clinic into a top-notch wildlife hospital, respected by our colleagues from around the state and the nation.

We’ve established a program to train new wildlife rehabilitators that has seen over 60 successful graduates, many of whom have gone on to work in various aspects of serving wildlife here and around the country.

We have also joined the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, and added valuable team members to the roster of pre-trained oil spill responders available to help in the event of an oil spill in our area, or across the state.

With scarce resources, we have successfully built HWCC into a respected wildlife care facility that is also a teaching hospital and a working lab developing real world improvements to the care other wildlife rehabilitators can provide.

To sustain these advancements and build on them, we need your help! For more information or to make a donation, plus lots of photos wildlife we have cared for, please visit us online at www.birdallyx.net.