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Newark Life

Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research: Flying free again

Dec 01, 2023 12:23PM ● By Tricia Hoadley
Photos by Jim Coarse
Text by Richard L. Gaw

Seeing a bird fly from my hands and fly free again is the greatest gift I know.”

Lynne Frink, founder, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research

In the parking lot at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark on a recent morning, an injured Common Yellow throat, a type of warbler, fluttered nervously in the front seat of a car. It had escaped from the container the driver had placed it in, but with gentle hands of a clinician, the bird was taken into the Frink Center for Wildlife, where its injuries were tended to, and where it regained its strength and was soon released again into the wild.

The bird was just one of between 3,000 and 3,500 native wild “patients” – 130 different species from as many as 40 counties throughout the tri-state area – who receive compassionate rehabilitation every year at Tri-State’s clinic on Possum Hollow Road, in partnership with volunteers, colleagues, community members and government agencies.

Our clinical team and senior staff have decades of experience in wildlife rehabilitation, so they know how to approach a variety of injuries that come through the doors -- from hummingbirds to bald eagles to loons and every type of bird in between,” said Executive Director Lisa Smith. “They not only bring a depth of knowledge in rehabilitation, but they also know the natural history of every species, as well.”

In late December of 1976, the Liberian tanker Olympic Games ran aground in the Delaware River, and despite the valiant efforts of those who attempted to rescue the animals who were trapped in the spill, tens of thousands of animals – including birds -- died as the result of oil contamination. Soon after the tragedy, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research founder Lynne Frink formed a multi-disciplinary team of wildlife biologists, veterinarians, pathologists, chemists and concerned citizens to study the effects of oil on birds and develop protocols necessary to treat affected wildlife.

The work of Frink and her colleagues led to the formation of the agency in 1982, where for the last five decades it has become internationally recognized for its rehabilitation and research and is the only federally permitted wild bird rehabilitation facility on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Today, the Frink Center for Wildlife consists of animal care wards, surgery and research labs, outdoor aviaries and pools, and administrative offices. Working out of the new L. Leon & Alice P. Cambell Wildlife Response Building, Tri-State’s Oiled Wildlife Response Team – the only qualified organization of its kind on the East Coast -- is dedicated to treating birds that have been affected by oil spills and other large-scale incidents from Canada to the Caribbean.

Every time we get to release a bird, it’s such a victory, and every release is a wonderful victory for wildlife, whether it’s mallard ducklings we’ve been raising for six weeks or if it’s a warbler that flew into a window that we hold for a day of observation before we return it to its journey,” Smith said.

It all comes down to a passion for caring about wildlife. From our staff to the volunteers to our partnering agencies to our donors, that is what everyone is here for and what they care about. Working together is how we achieve our mission to treat these birds and get them back into the wild.”

Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research is located at 170 Possum Hollow Road, Newark, De. 19711. To learn more, visit or call (302) 737-9543.

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