To the rescue
Sep 27, 2018 12:38PM
By Steven Hoffman
Each year, more than 2,600 birds receive the care that they need at the Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research’s state-of-the-art facility in Newark. There are two kinds of days at the bird rescue—those that are busy, and those that are busier as the team of professional staff and volunteers treat birds from Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Even some birds from as far away as New Jersey end up at the Wild Bird Clinic on Possum Road for the quality treatment and compassionate care that have been hallmarks of the bird rescue since it was founded 42 years ago.
When Newark Life caught up with executive director Lisa Smith one day in September to talk about the mission and activities of the bird rescue, she explained that, because of migration patterns, “There are millions of birds moving right now, mainly from north to south. Some species are staying here, but a lot of others are heading south. There's a lot of song birds passing through right now.”
Any injury to a bird during the migration can be a serious issue for them to overcome.
“It's really a race against time to get them healed and back on the migration path,” Smith explained. “We're here to take care of any injured or orphaned wild birds.”
The Tri-State Bird Rescue’s birth 42 years ago was in response to a crisis. On Dec. 26, 1976, a Liberian tanker named Olympic Games ran aground in the Delaware River. The resulting oil spill, the sixth major oil spill in the Northeast region of the U.S. in just a three-year period, killed tens of thousands of animals in the area, despite the best efforts of many people who attempted to help. Canada geese that got caught in the oil spill were found walking on roadways three miles inland, searching for open water. It was a heartbreaking sight for anyone who was there to witness it.
Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc. was founded that winter to establish a team of wildlife biologists, veterinarians, pathologists, chemists and concerned citizens to study the effects of oil on birds and to develop protocols necessary to treat affected wildlife.
The organization’s mission has evolved through the years. So many people were bringing injured birds to the Tri-State Bird Rescue for care that, in 1982, the organization expanded its mission to include a wild bird clinic. In 1989, the Frink Center—named after the founder Lynn Frink—opened as a state-of-the-art center to care for ill, injured, or orphaned wild birds. Today the Frink Center for Wildlife consists of animal care wards, surgery and research labs, outdoor aviaries and pools, an oil spill facility, and administrative offices.
Smith emphasized that birds that are sick or injured really need professional care, especially if they must overcome broken bones, traumatic injuries, or diseases. Injured wild birds should be taken to a licensed wildlife clinic for treatment as soon as possible.
Most of the birds who end up under the care of the Tri-State Bird Rescue are brought to the clinic by kind-hearted citizens who find them. There are also volunteers who are able to sometimes able to go pick up injured birds that have been reported to the bird rescue.
The staff and volunteers know how to care for the many different species of birds that are found in the area, Smith said. When birds are brought to the Frink Center, they are examined so that the staff can determine a course of treatment.
The state-of-the-art facility has all the imaging and testing equipment and a surgical area necessary to allow the staff to care for the injured birds in any way that they need.“Wildlife preservation has really evolved since the 1980s,” Smith explained. “The treatments have really improved.”
Smith has been the executive director of Tri-State Bird Rescue since 2011. Her involvement with the organization started when she signed up as a volunteer around 1984. She was still in high school at the time, and received the training that was necessary to care for the birds. Eventually, she joined the Tri-State Bird Rescue's staff, and served in the clinic from 1993 to 1996.
Smith explained that caring for birds is an act of love, and the staff members are all very caring and dedicated. The Tri-State Bird Rescue has a staff of about 14 people.
“We also have about 120 really active volunteers,” Smith said. “It's not unusual for our volunteers who help us for five or ten years, and we have some volunteers who have been here for 30 years.”
Research and education is an important component of the work at the Tri-State Bird Rescue. The center provides a lot of training and also holds information sessions for volunteers.
The organization is a nonprofit, and it is very reliant on private donations to continue its good work.
“We really rely on the community so that we can do the work that we do,” Smith said.
The Tri-State Bird Rescue is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents in Delaware and surrounding states can call Tri-State Bird Rescue at 302-737-9543 or visit the organizations Facebook or its website at www. Tristatebird .org.