Bird rescue organizations and rehabilitators do invaluable work for orphaned, injured and sick birds, often with funding only through grants, fundraisers and out of their own pockets. There are many types of donations that individuals can make to help ease the burden of operating a bird rescue, and many organizations maintain wish lists of the items they most need. By knowing what a bird rescue wish list might include, any birder or birding club can work to help support these organizations.
Finding Bird Rescue Wish Lists
Many bird and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facilities have regular needs for financial, material and personnel support, and before you arrange donations or plan your own giving, it is best to contact the specific organization you want to help to learn their most pressing needs. The exact items that will be most welcome vary throughout the year depending on what birds the facility is currently working with, and while some items on a bird rescue wish list will stay constant, other, more unique items might be strongly needed only at certain times. Check an organization’s website for a wish list or needs list, or contact the facility’s director or manager for a list of needed items, and you will be ready to plan a donation drive or collect items to donate to a very worthy cause.
Rehabilitating birds is an expensive business, and financial donations of any amount are always welcome at all bird rescue organizations. The organizations themselves are often eligible for non-profit or bulk discounts on the items and services they need the most, and donating money will help them get the most use from every dollar. But where does that money go? Bird rescue organizations can have enormous operating costs, which include:
- Medical Care: X-rays, medication, first aid supplies and veterinary care for sick and injured birds.
- Building Maintenance: Flight cage construction for bird strengthening, swimming pools for waterfowl, maintenance of perches and smaller cages for recuperating birds.
- Food: All types of foods for birds, including specialized diets, vitamins and nutritional supplements for malnourished birds.
- Vehicles: Gas, insurance and other costs for vehicles to retrieve injured birds as well as to take birds to and from veterinary appointments or to release recovered birds.
- Operating Costs: Utility, telephone and other basic operational costs for the entire facility.
These costs can quickly add up when a facility is caring for many birds at once, and even small financial donations are welcome. Cash, checks and money orders are all useful, as are gift cards to pet stores, home stores and chains like Target and Wal-Mart where supplies can be easily purchased. It may be hard for one birder to donate $1,000, but if 1,000 birders all donate only $10, the total donation can help the facility offer critical services to birds for a long time.
Some people feel uncomfortable making financial donations, and there are many different types of material items that can be donated to help bird rescue organizations. When choosing material items to donate, however, it is important to contact the organization to see if they have any brand preferences or restrictions to be sure your donation is as useful as possible.
The most popular items bird rescue organizations can frequently use include:
- Sturdy trash bags, 30-gallon size or larger
- Bleach, laundry detergent and other cleaning chemicals
- Dawn dishwashing soap for cleaning oiled birds
- Sponges, brushes, brooms, mops, latex gloves and other cleaning supplies
- Bandages, gauze, triple antibiotic ointment and other first aid supplies
- Paper towels
- Birdseed, mealworms, fruit and other foods for birds
- Heating pads
- Dog crates (for transporting birds)
- Postage stamps and office supplies
- Kitten or puppy food (to feed baby birds)
- Yard and lawn equipment for facility maintenance
- Astroturf and similar materials (to cover perches)
Even small material donations can be useful, and some facilities will accept even more unusual donations for fundraising events such as raffles or rummage sales to support operational costs.
Volunteers are welcome at many bird rescue organizations, and a helping hand can help offset operational costs even if you aren’t able to donate financially or materially. While every organization may have different tasks volunteers can perform – not all of which will be directly interacting with birds – typical tasks might include:
- Picking up injured birds to deliver them to the facility
- Taking birds out for release after they have recovered
- Cleaning cages or helping clean birds
- Preparing food or directly feeding birds
- Administering medication
- Assisting with birds’ physical therapy
- Working with educational programs or facility tours
- Repairs and other building maintenance
- Landscaping work
- Working with ongoing fundraisers or special events
- Office tasks such as updating records
Even volunteering for just an hour or two can be useful, but even more welcome are volunteers who can make a regular commitment. Long-term volunteers are more likely to be trained in more difficult and demanding tasks, including some of the more challenging work directly with birds.
Whether you can only donate a few dollars, one or two items or just an hour of your time, the help you give can help fulfill a bird rescue wish list and keep them providing care and treatment to the birds you enjoy.
Many thanks to the World Bird Sanctuary for their assistance in compiling wish list examples.
Photo – Chickadee in Hand © Nathan Siemers