Wild Bird Fund is a place to mend broken wings on the Upper West Side

ByEmily Sowa & Jared Barnett Localish logo
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
A day in the life of NYC's hospital for wild birds
Wild Bird Fund is a place to mend broken wings on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

UPPER WEST SIDE -- The Wild Bird Fund is New York City's one and only wildlife rehabilitation center.

"Our motto is a protective wing over New York City's wildlife," said Rita McMahon, Director, and Co-Founder of Wild Bird Fund. "90 percent of our cases are due to human interference, one way or another, from things we've done that the animals suffer from."

New York City is a major stopover on the East Coast migratory flyway, and over 355 bird species live in the Big Apple or take refuge here during the Spring and Fall migrations.

Many are injured by flying into buildings that have sprung up along these ancient migratory pathways or by cat attacks, vehicles, and human interference.

"Each animal is brought in by an individual. A caring New Yorker who found the animal, was able to pick it up, and bring it to us," said McMahon.

Wild Bird Fund, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, not only heals injured birds but positively affects the people who try to help them.

When they first opened, they only had 1,500 cases, but now Wild Bird Fund rehabilitates over 7,000 sick, injured or orphaned wildlife around the city so that they can be released back into the wild.

"We've come into their space, so this is our attempt to make amends," said McMahon. "We're going to try to help them so that they can continue their natural lives."

Rehabilitation includes radiographs, diagnostic testing, surgery, medication, bandaging, splinting, physical therapy, feeding and sheltering. All native and migratory birds are treated, from the house sparrows to rarities such as Virginia rails and Great-horned owls. This critical work is accomplished through private donations and mostly volunteer labor.

The Wild Bird Fund Rehabilitation Center depends on volunteers and interns to help care for injured birds so they can heal and be released. Without volunteers and interns to reliably lend their enthusiasm, skills, talents, and willingness to learn, the Wild Bird Fund would not exist.

"The volunteers are integral to the whole function of the Wild Bird Fund. They take care of everything from cleaning all the cages to doing their dishes to feeding the birds to doing physical therapy on the birds," said Pepe Hernandez, Animal Care Manager of Wild Bird Fund. "We couldn't survive without our volunteers."

To find out how you can volunteer or if you've rescued a bird and need somewhere to take it, please visit Wild Bird Fund on the Upper West Side.

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