As a former intern and staff member at the Wild Bird Fund, I look to this organization as one of the better places on this planet. I entered as a pre-veterinary student with an unbudging fear of birds, hoping to face my fear and gain some wildlife experience and be on my way, yet I find myself returning to the center as often as possible. The cases are new and exciting, the job is hands-on, the hours are long and trying, but enormously rewarding. I have learned more from the job than I thought was possible, and now not only do I have an extremely favorable outlook on a class of animals I never thought I could love, but also a completely different outlook on the city that I grew up in, realizing just how intricately New York City is built. The staff members are all incredibly intelligent and dedicated to what they do, and there's something to be said about the vast network of volunteers that makes time to come and help care for the hundreds of animals that are brought through the front door. Rita McMahon, founder of the Wild Bird Fund, is a champion for the city's wildlife and a mentor like no other. She will do anything in her power to act as a voice for our cohabitants and to ensure that their health and welfare are protected and ensured. In short, the Wild Bird Fund is truly a magical place, making do with the few resources available to protect thousands of animals yearly. I look forward to returning time again and seeing the organization grow.
Review from Guidestar
The Wild Bird Fund is a one of the few places you can find a congregation of people truly passionate about the environment. Each volunteer and rehabber has a profound love for the creatures in care; expressed by eagerness to meet all the needs of patients by means of sacrificing leisure time.
The Wild Bird Fund would not be successful ,or even possible, if it lacked its qualified staff, devoted volunteers, or its generous funds from the public. It is important that people continue to support this organization that has helped treat many birds that have been unlikely to survive and educate people of the significance of animal welfare.
Review from Guidestar
Rescuers: Make Wild Bird Fund BETTER.
The first serious problem at WBF is the environment. The #1 need of your bird is stress reduction. Darkness, quiet, and containment are vital. This is basic rehab protocol. Look at sites including National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association.
Is this a peaceful environment for a very stressed bird likely in a lot of pain?
If enough of you ask for a peaceful environment, they will do it! They are a good group of people under a lot of stress themselves. Quiet and, when possible, low light, would help everyone.
Rescuing is the critical first step. Rehab of that bird can go on for months. WBF is a good option but not the ONLY option for a bird in trouble. Do some searches, talk to other rehabbers who can help guide you.
Rescuers are the collaborators or rehabbers. You have the right to express your opinion in a courteous concerned way to a group of people doing the very best they can,
There's no other place to bring your injured wild bird but here. It doesn't get better than this place !!
If there is a bird whisperer Rita McMahon is it !!! She is a devoted to Wildlife Rescue and is truly compassionate about saving lives. I have experienced her expertise hands on and her loyalty to the birds and her establishment . This is what drew me in to become a Wildlife Rehabilitator and volunteer at the Wild Bird Fund. She is also a wonderful teacher and is very patient. This energy resinates throughout the center with lovely volunteers that care about all the patients and running the facility as a whole. We all work together and try to create a peaceful healing environment for all the patients. I truly support this organization and will take time out from my busy day as a Celebrity & Fashion Make Up Artist to come and help Rita at the Rehabilitation Center. She has also saved my pet Doves leg with her maticulous leg splinting and medical attention. She is my Hero!
Review from Guidestar
I have been a regular weekly volunteer for the Wild Bird Fund for a year, and I am so grateful that this place exists to help injured wildlife. Injured birds arrive in every day, and each one is cared for and given the best medical attention. Just recently a Brant Goose was brought in with a badly damaged leg, and thanks to the skilled veterinarians at the Wild Bird Fund he was operated on, survived, and was able to be released back to the wild.
I have also been lucky enough to attend bird releases both in Central Park and around New York. Last week I released a pigeon that had come in with a damaged foot, and watching him fly away and then landing on his healed foot was one of the most rewarding experiences of volunteering with the Bird Fund.
A great organization that really puts the animals first.
I began volunteering with an informative orientation session - there were eleven of us there
varying in age from seniors to a high school student. The session was highly informative and
inspiring, from New York's situation as a major flyover to the WBFs role in caring (and releasing)
injured and ill birds and small animals. While we were there several people came in with injured birds.
I have been there numrous times now, and that has always been the case. Referrals have consistently been made by the Central Park Conservancy, Animal Care and Control, and the Audubon Society just to name a few - they know they can rely on the Center's professionalism. Last week someone came in from Long Island City with a bird that had been shot with a bb gun and a salesperson from Third Avenue arrived with an injured Woodcock thatd he had found huddled under a construction overhang. The care is gentle, professional,and impressive and is often used as a
teaching opportunity. Representatives from the Center visit schools and programs for young people, including The New York Historical Society education center for children. It also encourages young volunteers to gain certificates and and develop an enduring commitment to caring for wildlife.
A couple of months ago, together with a wonderful woman and her wonderful 10 year old daughter, I rescued an injured pigeon on Broadway, in New York City. All of us had seen the bird in distress and wanted to help.
We took the pigeon to the Wild Bird Fund Center here in Manhattan, where she received excellent care. She had been suffering from "tanglefoot," the result of heartless humans putting glue on their window ledges to keep pigeons away. Her llittle feet and wings had gotten tangled up in the glue and could not move, and she had scraped off some of her feathers in trying vainly to free herself.
The Wild Bird Fund Center cleaned her and performed skilled surgery on her, removing the glued areas from her feet. They kept her for several weeks until she was recovered and strong enough to be released. We three rescuers had a lovely little ceremony releasing her back on Broadway where she had been found (this is the preferred release). It was joyous to watch her fly into the treetops and then into the sky.
I have rescued many pigeons, and taken many to the Wild Bird Fund Center. They are the only wildlife rehabilitation center in New York City, and they deserve our support. They receive no funding from government agencies, and rely entirely on donations. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation, and please visit their two wonderful websites.
Deborah Tanzer, Ph.D.
The Wild Bird Fund is a wonderful place to work. I've been a volunteer for two years.
Wild birds and other animals, usually sick and injured and in very bad shape, are brought in for treatment from all over New York City, including the outer boroughs. Especially during the spring and fall we receive many birds that have been injured flying into windows while migrating through NYC, as we’re on the Atlantic flyway, and Central Park is a nice place for avian R&R.
We treat lots of baby birds, songbirds, waterfowl large and small, birds of prey, squirrels, opossums and many others.
The staff is dedicated to healing these animals, works long and hard to rehabilitate them, and always hopes to return them to the wild or find adopters for individuals that can’t survive on their own.
Review from Guidestar
Out of all the centers I investigated to volunteer at, the WBF impressed me as the most well-organized, clean, and professional. Since starting there I've only had that impression confirmed. Not every animal that's brought in makes it - that is, unfortunately, the reality of how badly-off many of the animals they receive are. But every single one of them receives a quality of care that most professional veterinary clinics would be hard-pressed to provide, care that gives them a chance they simply wouldn't have had otherwise. I'm amazed at what they do, and encourage you to check them out for yourself!
The recent one-star review printed here was appalling. The comments were distorted, misdirected, misperceived and totally inaccurate. Has the author ever heard of checking sources? Has the author spent any time at the WBF Center to see first-hand what goes on there? More significant: the author’s self-righteous tone speaks deep volumes about him/her—not the organization.
Way before the dedicated WBF Rehab Center existed, I had a strikingly positive experience with the founder, who returned my phone call to reassure me about a duck family found in my local community garden (they were collected and released in the North Lake in Central Park). Her simple gesture of returning a phone call from a concerned stranger set the stage for what has become a commanding influence in the city’s birding and small animal community.
It is due to her astonishing and powerful commitment to healing wild birds and small animals, that has attracted so many talented, exceptional, dedicated and like-minded people to the WBF Center for Rehabilitation and Education.
With all due modesty, I am one of them. My contribution however, is upstairs in the reception area, the perfect location to witness the myriad people clamoring to get the small, broken creatures they find in the city the attention they need. To a person, they are distraught by the animals’ distress and simultaneously relieved to have ‘found’ the WBF. “How long have you been here?” they ask. “Thank God we found you.”
One of my tasks at the front desk is to tell people what we’re about (healing/helping animals in pain). And what happens to the animals they bring in (they’re examined, medically treated, fed, cleaned, cared for and returned to their natural habitats if possible, or euthanized if necessary). No animal at the Center is treated haphazardly or without great care, forethought and compassion. I have witnessed this time and time again. And I have witnessed the gratitude of the people who find the animals and bring them in, eagerly, breathlessly with great relief—time and time again.
The dedicated Center is only one-year-old, just about to start its second year. The growth has been phenomenal. People are learning about us and from us. They bring their children in to learn about birds and small animals in group activities the Center organizes. The Center holds lectures and short workshops on various aspects of animal care. Bird-watching and photography sessions are regularly held in Central Park. Volunteers sign-up by the dozens to learn about birds and how to care for them or to just be around other people who care, who contribute and want to help heal wild creatures who can’t help themselves.
I am getting so much more than I’m giving to the Wild Bird Fund Rehab Center, and I am proud to be a part of it. And, by-the-way, that young person referred to in the review that has so incensed me, is more talented, competent, conscientious, compassionate, intelligent, mature and wise than any six people three times her age. I can only hope I’ll be around when she becomes the remarkable veterinarian she is destined to be.
it's so traumatic to find an injured bird or small mammal in NYC and not know how to help it. The Wild Bird Fund is always there to help and is deeply interested in helping the animals I bring in. The people there are wonderful. They are committed angels, essential to this city.
I just read the wild bird fun newsletter. Really shocking. No wonder many birds are not doing their best. What kind of medical organization has a 14 year old doing procedures and boasting about it! I don't care how competent she is. I think it's irresponsible. Shame on you. I'll never bring an animal to this center again and will do my best to alert others to it. Rita Mcmahon should not be bragging about such things!
I agree with previous entries about the center. Good idea but no thanks.
As a wildlife rehabilitator and a volunteer with the WBF, I would like to respond to the two posts from January 21 and January 22, 2013, respectively.
I was present when the sick bird with lead poisoning was brought to the center at closing and remember the case quite well. Sadly, the patient died. Sadly, the patient had lead poisoning. But it did not die from lack of care.
The pigeon presented with severe neurological symptoms as well as dehydration and was not in stable condition. The first step in treating any sick or injured animal is to stabilize the patient with supportive care: first you give fluids to correct life-threatening dehydration, then, if emaciated and starving, you administer basic, easy to digest, enteral foods. Then, and only when the bird is hydrated and stable, can you treat an illness like lead poisoning.
The next morning the bird was re-evaluated and determined to be stable enough for blood work. After a high lead level in the blood was identified, we started treatment with DMSA (dimercaptosuccinic acid). This is an agent that chemically binds to the lead so it can be flushed out of the system. However, the treatment is very rough on the patient’s body, particularly the kidneys. Such treatment can only be started when a bird is hydrated because the poisons have to be flushed from the system. Otherwise the very medicine that could save the patient will kill it.
Being a Good Samaritan for a sick animal is a noble calling. We are grateful that people like you exist in this city. We know all too well the trials and tribulations that patients and their caregivers go through before finding us and getting help. Sadly all too often, too much time has passed before a patient can get to us and then there is little we can do to turn the corner on a rapidly deteriorating case.
Regarding the other patient case mentioned on this site: to perform euthanasia, two people are required to sign off on a medical chart before that decision is made. It is never an easy, or lightly made decision. At least one person involved in the euthanasia must be a state or federally licensed rehabilitator.
If a patient displays symptoms consistent with Paramyxovirus (PMV), we take the case very, very seriously. We warn the rescuer of the possibility that the bird may never recover enough to go back to the wild. And then we go above and beyond, testing for lead and treating with antibiotics to cover the alternate possibilities of lead poisoning or meningitis. A viral disease like PMV is contagious, often deadly, and is associated with a very poor quality of life. So euthanasia is often the only humane alternative. I had a bird I was fostering die of PMV in my hands; it was a slow and wretchedly painful death. I was too hopeful for a recovery to consider a humane means for ending her suffering; I kept thinking she would pull through. To this day I regret that decision.
A gardener in my neighborhood rescued a downy woodpecker with a broken wing that was being attacked by other birds. I was so thrilled to know about the Wild Bird Fund. They quickly returned my call and I brought the bird in. It was about 15 degrees out. They alerted me that the bird was terribly cold and likely wouldn't survive. But they kept her warm and she was able to leave this world in peace, instead of under attack. They saw the bird immediately when I arrived and starting treating her immediately to try to warm her up.
I rescued a pigeon from the back alley of my building. He could not stand up and appeared to be ill. I took him to the Animal Medical Center on York Avenue, but they refused to treat him. I was given the name of the Wild Bird Fund Rehabilitation Center on Columbus Avenue. The pigeon and I were welcomed by who I thought was a very intelligent and knowledgable expert on the ailments of birds named Zhong. She took the sick pigeon in her hand, which seemed to comfort him and talked to me while holding him. I was gratified to see that she did not put on gloves while holding him. She prescribed treatments for him and I left him in her care. I learned a couple of days later that the pigeon had died from lead poisoning. Apparently, they neglected to test him for lead poisoning for almost 24 hours and as a result he was not given the proper medicine until too late. The Wild Bird Fund seems to be good at treating certain ailments, but a desperately sick bird, fighting for his life, needed to be tested immediately and given the right medicine without delay.
P.S. It is incomprehensible to me why people have such an aversion to pigeons, who are intelligent and lovely creatures and in World War II saved thousands of lives by their extraordinary ability to carry messages. New York City would be a colder place without them.
Review from Guidestar
My work as a volunteer with The Wild Bird Fund (WBF) began in March 2012, a few weeks before they moved into their new home on Columbus Avenue. I was between jobs, so had plenty of free time, and they needed help organizing a few items for their annual fundraiser. As someone who works in project management, often including events, it was a natural fit. But, oh so much more fun than my real job! I was amazed and honored to be working alongside all of the people who waltzed through the door to help. They gave up valuable time and resources to lend a hand, donate money or items - and yet still found the time to care for the animals and ensure that every cage was clean, no dose of medication was missed, and all mouths were fed.
That exhilarating momentum did not wear off, rather with every week that has passed since the fundraiser and the subsequent opening of the WBF center, I watch as operational processes continue to become more streamlined and well defined, volunteers become more capable and confident in their tasks and responsibilities. Our rehabilitators and veterinary technicians too are excelling in their jobs providing top-notch medical care for the animals and becoming more adept at handling the enormous number of patients we receive. Even with their long hours and limited free time they are actively participating in educational opportunities, learning through courses and hand-on experience alongside the veterinarians at Animal General and The Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine.
As for me, within 6 weeks after the fundraiser I was back at work and the new WBF center had opened. While the majority of my free time has evaporated, I still manage to carve out a few hours a week to volunteer at the center. The best I can do right now is to be a member of the Wild Bird Fund and to proudly support the efforts of those who spend day-in-and-day-out caring for and treating the wildlife of NYC.
I’ve volunteered for the WBF for nearly two years now. And—seriously—that I keep going back is a testament to the quality of work the WBF does and the impact it has, because I am congenitally averse to wasting my time and intensely committed to the well-being of animals.
I generally work reception. It’s deeply moving to meet the people who bring us hurt, sick, or orphaned animals, frequently via bus and subway from the outer edges of the city. Before this office opened, there was nowhere to go with these animals unless you could find and afford a vet who would treat them. People are so grateful to find us.
The number of animals that come through the front door is staggering. I would estimate that there are never fewer than 100 animals in residence, and, during migrations and the spring birthing season, up to 250. During those times the place is packed with volunteers who hand-feed babies and the seriously ill and make sure the animals in cages have food, water, a clean place to recover, and exercise.
The volunteers at the WBF are just as committed to the well-being of the animals in our care as the people who bring them to us. The center could not exist without the volunteers, because so far it can only afford to pay a few part-time “vet techs.” Even the animal rehabbers, who are licensed, are volunteers. Fundraising is of critical importance, because we are not yet over the hump that guarantees our continued existence. And the city needs the WBF desperately if we are going to take responsibility for the well-being of our wildlife.
Whenever it’s possible, the animals are returned to the wild, as close as possible to where they were found. Just as you would imagine, returning a bird to the wild is a moving and uplifting experience, whether a hummingbird or hawk, a pigeon or a swan. When release is not possible because the animal can’t survive in the wild, it’s placed in the amazing network of sanctuaries around the tri-state area.
One such bird was Elvis the Canada goose. Elvis ruled the roost, so to speak, around the center until he had a sanctuary to go to upstate and a ride to get there. Another favorite was Ernest the brain-damaged pheasant. What a sweetie! Usually we are careful to avoid getting the animals too comfortable around humans, but since Ernest was not being returned to the wild, it was okay to make a bit of a fuss about him as he strolled around the center.
There are dozens, hundreds of stories about animals the WBF has helped. Please give as much as you can to ensure the continued existence of this critical resource to New York City. The WBF makes a major difference already, but it could do much more with greater financial support. I promise you, your gift will make a meaningful contribution to the well-being of the city’s wildlife. Thank you…and do drop by, with or without a wildlife escort.
I wouldn't have dreamed of becoming a wildlife rehabilitator if it weren't for the WBF. It all started when I found a sick and injured pigeon hiding under a shish-kebab vendor. His feet were tangled in string and terribly deformed. I took the bird to the WBF and was deeply impressed by the care they gave him. They spent almost an hour to remove the string from his feet, took an X-ray, took his poop sample to check if there were any harmful bacteria, and then provided me with medicines to give him. All this for a bird some might call a “pest”! I became an instant fan of the WBF. Since then, I’ve taken many birds there and learned so much about rehabilitating wild animals from the wonderful staffs. Rita McMahon, who is the president of the WBF, especially has taught me a great deal and inspired me to become a wildlife rehabilitator. I’m sure there are many others who share my experience and my view of this extraordinary organization.
Review from Guidestar
In the interests of fair disclosure, I am a regular visitor to the WBF. I am a photographer with an interest in wildlife and have been providing photo services on a pro bono basis to the WBF. I have been doing this for more than a year during which time the WBF moved from various private homes and shared professional facilities to its own center on Columbus Avenue. In that time I have met and photographed perhaps 25 volunteers and staff members and perhaps 300 birds of various species. (You can see some of the WBF work here: http://fredcohenphotography.weebly.com/the-wild-bird-fund---p1.html .) As you might surmise from this I have spent many hours at the WBF center and have observed their work on many occasions.
I have been constantly impressed with the dedication, competence and knowledge of the paid staff; with the kindness, sincerity and concern for the animals of staff and volunteers alike; and with the attention to training of volunteers in the care of birds and safety. During that period the WBF has also shown a constant concern for outreach to the neighborhood and teaching about respect and care for birds of all kinds. The demand for WBF’s services immediately outstripped the physical confines of its new facility and I know for a fact that some staff and many volunteers provide foster care for over-flow animals in their homes when and to the extent permitted by wildlife rehab regulations.
However the primary function of the organization is to save injured wild life that can be saved and to release them back into the wild. I have seen the staff in action enlisting veterinary services as needed, testing for lead, taking x-rays, administering medications, feeding and exercising each bird – of which there are often more than 100 in residence. This brings me to comment on Mr. Jenner’s remarks on Ernest the Pheasant in an earlier review. First, each bird at the center is given a daily opportunity for exercise unless they are carriers of a communicable medical problem. Second, I have not known the center to turn away a needful bird. So it may well be that at any time there are raptors and prey simultaneously resident in the WBF facility. However I have never seen them loosed for exercise at the same time and I have never seen them caged in sight of each other. Third, I have seen the center react quickly and sensitively to aggression of birds of even the same species toward each other. Fourth, I saw Earnest from his first days at the WBF center until the final days before his release to a reserve some months back. He had the run of the place and seemed to form a bond with a chukar, also in extended residence. I never saw Ernest exhibit lethargy or distress except in connection with his injury. Given the thin staffing resulting from a very limited budget and reliance for more routine work on volunteer workers, the WBF provides tender care and manages to treat and release a huge number of birds throughout the year. I have not ceased to be astonished at their throughput, their constant good humor, their patience and their willingness to do the dirty work, as well as the engaging work, required to maintain their charges.
I have often been called with notice of the arrival of a photogenic bird only to find that it had been released or shipped to a cooperative facility in another location before I could get to the WBF center. I have always agreed that the treatment and welfare of the birds has a higher priority than any photo-graphic opportunity so this does not distress me. The staff who have helped me with my photographic efforts have always been sensitive to any stresses on the birds produced by that process.
In short I am a believer in the work and organization of the WBF. With greater funding, additional professional staff might be retained, and that could only strengthen the services and relieve some of the stresses on the current staff. But I certainly cannot fault the WBF for any lack of concern or care or effort, or results.
The Wild Bird Fund has been the go-to place in NYC for years. It is where my own interest in wildlife rehabilitation was engendered and I learned a great deal from the women who are lead rehabilitators there. One is still my prime mentor. That said, I am concerned that the organization has lost its focus as it has gotten bigger and most recently, moved to its own shop across from the vet-shop where it shared space. This is especially a problem in the case of Ernest the pheasant. Ernest has been living in the basement "hospital" area for six months, never seeing sunlight or other pheasants or anything normal. There is no reason for this except that no one has gotten around to taking Ernest off to his forever home upstate. In the meantime, he has had to share space with other birds, including predators that eat pheasants. He has suffered injuries at the hands of new, ill-trained, inadequately supervised staff. People engaged at WBF know I go regularly upstate and could have taken Ernest with me; I have specifically offered to take him on the next trip; this offer has been rejected. Add to this the excessive claim to be >the< wildlife rehabilitation center for NYC, but generally not equipped to handle even the birds current brought in, and I think this place needs new, competent management badly and now.