Spring is the busiest time of the year for Pacific Wildlife Care (PWC). The nonprofit is getting ready for a seasonal influx of new animals, which means it's also time for them to offer tips to people who find orphaned or injured animals.
This is the time of year residents most frequently bring baby animals, especially birds, to the PWC's rehabilitation center. Imagine the familiar chirp of a few baby birds in a nest, multiplied by hundreds in a tiny room. That's what it sounds like during peak season in the Baby Bird Room at the PWC.
“On a typical day, we have 50 to 60 animals in care and that jumps to 300 animals in care during our peak in summer and spring,” said Kelley Boland, PWC Wildlife Rehabilitation Technician.
Boland said baby animal season gets going sometime between mid-March and early April and can last five to six months.
“We might be getting here at 7:00 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. and we’re not leaving until 9:00 p.m. if it goes well,” Boland said. “I’ve been here on a busy day until 10:00 p.m.”
Orphaned or injured baby birds are brought into the clinic for full examinations and treatment. If they are healthy and the parents can be located, the babies are renested. Otherwise, they are taken to the Baby Bird Room at PWC. There, they are given almost constant care during daylight hours until they are ready to be released. Volunteers go through extensive training to be able to care for them.
“Well I love [taking care of the baby birds.] I do. It’s a lot of work though,” said Pacific Wildlife Center volunteer Becky Price. “But it’s incredibly rewarding. It really, truly is.”
PWC rehabilitates animals in San Luis Obispo County year round. In 2020 alone, PWC said it took more than 2,600 wildlife cases, many of which needed care due to human disturbance. Boland says community members can take action to reduce their impact on wildlife.
“If they have outdoor cats, keep them inside as much as possible,” Boland said. “If they are thinking about trimming their trees or hedges, wait until the end of fall or wintertime so they’re not disturbing any nests.”
For help assessing whether or not an animal needs care, call the Pacific Wildlife Care Hotline at (805) 543-9453. If someone encounters an injured animal, Boland said to remember these tips: don’t feed the animal or give it water, keep it in a dark warm space and bring it into Pacific Wildlife Care as soon as possible.
To find out how to volunteer or donate, visit the website.