Wild bird rehabilitators are an odd lot. We put up with things on a regular basis that no normal human would suffer even once. We dedicate great swaths of our lives to rescuing creatures who not only refuse to pay us for our efforts, but sometimes attempt to kill us for even trying. Still, we persevere.
We gaze fondly, sort of, at our bird-watching compatriots, who get to go on all kinds of cool trips and see awesome birds, then go home and put their feet up, have a beer, and sleep through the night. They are able to do this because they’re not feeding nestling bobolinks every 20 minutes, or fending off enraged trumpeter swans in order to rescue a fishing line-entangled cygnet, or rising at 3 AM in order to tube-feed an emaciated rough-legged hawk.
Do they know something we don’t?
What you will find on this site are not glorious photos of birds on the wing, but stories and photos of temporarily (we hope) grounded individuals. All have suffered some kind of trouble, but their unique personalities and remarkable spirits remain intact. There will be tales of mishap and rescue, of hope and kindness, of sorrow and loss and the occasional unexpected miracle; all told by the saintly and perhaps slightly off-kilter group of people whose mission is to return an injured wild bird to the sky.
Prepare to be delighted, appalled, amazed, and everything in between.
The highlight of last summer was my trip to Hog Island, the renowned Audubon camp off the coast of Maine (see here for write-up). It was an adventurous journey filled with fun, creativity, and gorgeous scenery, and I met new friends, saw fantastic birds, and returned home happy, renewed, and far more knowledgeable than when I left. What more could you ask for?
I’m such a fan of the camp that I want to let people know there are still still a few spots open for this year. Breaking into Birding, held May 31 to June 5, is a new program for beginners who have been bitten by the birding bug and want to hone their newfound skills and soak up facts about all things avian. There will be field trips to spruce forests, Maine meadows, wetlands, and a visit to the restored Atlantic Puffin colony on Eastern Egg Rock; and your down-to-earth, approachable instructors will give you detailed tips on how to get the most of your equipment – whether it be a pair of hand-me-down binoculars or the latest in birding apps and scopes.
Joy of Birding, held June 7-12, will be an innovative, transforming blend of birding and music. Author and World Series of Birding founder Pete Dunne will improve your birding skills not only by sight but by sound, teaching an understanding of birds’ calls and songs against the spectacular backdrop of the Maine coast. Then at night, after their usual lively, tale-swapping dinners, Hog Island staff will welcome seven-time Grammy award winner Paul Winter for extraordinary no-musical-experience-necessary programs combining music with the sounds of the natural world. Intrigued? See here for more about Paul Winter’s “Adventures in SoundPlay.”
Hog Island is rated by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best camps for grown-ups, an honor with which I concur wholeheartedly – although having witnessed a teen program in action, I’d stretch the award to include them as well. These are experiences not to be missed!