Duckling Rescue, Enabling a New Beginning at Blue Ridge Wildlife Center

 Last week I stopped at a local park to do some birding. When I arrived, I spotted a fellow birder and went to talk to him. We were interrupted by a small feathered visitor that walked up to us in the parking lot. It was a Mallard duckling quacking a few feet away from us. This was quite a surprise for both of us. I knew there were no recent babies at this location, so I wondered where this duckling came from.

I decided to try and catch the Mallard and attempt to find its parents, thinking that perhaps the pair of Mallards that I had seen recently in the park did have babies and that somehow I just missed them. I brought the duckling over to the area where the pair of Mallards was hanging out and put the duckling down. Neither the duckling nor the pair of Mallards seem interested in each other.

Two large lawn mowers moved up the path and I struggled to keep the duckling out of harms way. Then a man walking two dogs was nearby. At this point, I managed to recapture the duckling. I brought the duckling back to where I found it and let it down on the ground. It seemed really hungry, as it was pecking at little bits of rock trying to find something edible.

I decided to call Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, for I did not think the duckling was safe at the park. They agreed that I should bring the duckling in. So I got a container out of my trunk and put the duckling in and started to exit the parking lot for the journey to the wildlife rescue location. I did not get far when the duckling managed to hop out. Luckily I had a beach towel that I used to put over the top of the container.

The drive to the wildlife rescue was 45 minutes long and the whole way the duckling was making funny noises and attempting an escape.

When we got to the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, I took the towel off the container and let the duckling sit on top of the towel. Jennifer Burghoffer, Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Associate Manager, completed intake forms for the duckling and brought food and water out for the hungry little one.

While discussing the circumstances in which I found the duckling they determined that if was probably an Easter gift that was dumped by someone at the park. They said that this happens at Easter. We all agreed that the duckling would not have survived on its own. I am thankful the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center was able to help this duckling.

Blue Ridge Wildlife Center is a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization established to provide assistance to Virginia’s native and orphaned wildlife and educate the public in northern Virginia, the Shenandoah region and more. The center presents environmental education programs including a nature discovery camp for children. The center operates a wildlife hotline: 540-837-9000.

Blue Ridge Wildlife Center is dependent on donations. There is no state or federal funding for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. Please consider supporting them with a monetary donation or donating necessary items.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center has some upcoming events (Please check their Facebook page and website for additional details for events):

On April 22, 2016, at 4:30 pm, The Land Trust of Virginia, in conjunction with the Goose Creek Association and Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, will host a free screening of Project Wild Thing at the Hill School for Performing Arts Center, Middleburg, VA. This is a documentary about one man’s personal quest to wean his children away from the couch and get them to experience the great outdoors.

June 12 from 12 to 3 pm: Spring is peak season for the rescue of young wildlife at Blue Ridge Wildlife Center. For this reason, a Baby Shower, will be held to collect items needed to rehabilitate these young ones. This event is open to the public and will take place at Long Branch Plantation in Boyce, VA. Visit this historic property and meet some of the wildlife center’s animal ambassadors. There will be a silent auction and raffle prizes. This is a fun event for people of all ages. I attended it a few years ago. It was held outdoors under a large canopy. There were birds of prey, mammals, turtles and more to see. Please check their website for items to donate and directions.

This beautiful Blue Jay was rehabilitated by Blue Ridge Wildlife Center.

Florida: Roseate Spoonbill Entangled in Tackle Rescued

Paul Waller was birding in Boyntan Beach, Florida this past Tuesday. He was walking through the marsh at Green Cay Wetland when he spotted a Roseate Spoonbill that was caught up in a fishing line. This is what we birders dread. Fishing tackle left behind can be a death sentence for birds and other wildlife.

Paul sprung into action by first contacting the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This call proved fruitless. 

Paul’s next attempt to get help for the bird was a call to Hope Mayer. Hope, a friend of Paul, is a licensed and experienced wildlife rescuer with experience dealing with wild birds. Luckily, Paul had this great contact that was available to assist.

 Paul made a quick trip to pick up Hope and they returned to find the Spoonbill at the same spot because the fishing line prevented it from moving anywhere. Paul climbed down the raised boardwalk and got into the water and waded out to the bird following instructions from Hope about how to handle it and cut the fishing line. 

Paul successfully got the bird loose and carried it back to the boardwalk where he transferred it to Hope. By this time, a crowd had formed to watch the rescue. A couple of bystanders helped Paul get back on the boardwalk.

Hope and Paul placed the Spoonbill into a pet carrier and got it into the hands of South Florida Wildlife Center. The spoonbill had an embedded fishing hook that they will remove and then the bird will need to stay for rehabilitation before hopefully being released back into the wild.


This Roseate Spoonbill is alive today thanks to Paul and Hope. Wildlife Heros!


 If you see an animal in distress please report the sighting as soon as possible to a trained rescuer. A call to a local wildlife rehabilitation center could bring help. Unfortunately, they are not often nearby or they do not have anyone who can respond. They often rely on a network of volunteers. 

Another option is to call the Department of Fish and Wildlife for your state. This may not work either though. I have tried to get help on two separate occasions for injured wild birds and no one came out in either situation. This is often the reality of trying to get help for injured wildlife…and so it was really great the Paul knew a wildlife rescuer nearby. 

South Florida Wildlife Center: If you find injured or orphaned wildlife in South Florida, call 954-524-4302 or 866-SOS-WILD.

Bye Bye Baby!

Happy to see successful rescue, rehabilitation and release!

Oiled Wildlife Care Network

Our great OWCN staff at International Bird Rescue released “the baby” this week with great fanfare (not to mention a lifeguard escort). Because few of us here in San Pedro had experience with fledgling cormorants, the baby provided both entertainment (those adorable squeaky sounds!) and education. We consulted with folks who have more experience with cormies at this age, so we all learned a little something.

The baby Brandt’s went from a fluffy puffball to a sleek, streamlined cormorant in the weeks he’s been with us, but that hasn’t stopped us from continuing to refer to him as a baby. I guess it is always hard to admit it when your baby grows up!

Kelly got some fantastic photos of his release, which as I mentioned included a boat escort by the Cabrillo Beach lifeguards so he could be released out on the water. A big shout-out to the lifeguards…

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A Well-Oiled Machine (no pun intended…): Notes from the Field

A blogger onsite in Santa Barbara reporting on wildlife rescue efforts. #oilspill

Oiled Wildlife Care Network

Winston Winston “the gull whisperer” Vickers baiting in gulls for capture

Today marks just over two weeks since the Refugio Oil Spill began, and day 15 since I arrived. For many days after I got here I felt like I barely had time to take a breath.  Each day was a flurry and steady stream of activities, including safety briefings in the morning, deploying field teams, multiple check-ins, conference calls, making plans for the following day, and the never ending text messages and phone calls that are just a regular part of oil spill response.

Richard Grise and his favorite field binoculars Richard Grise and his favorite field binoculars

At the end of the long day, a quick dinner and collapsing in bed left little time for other activities (except for the nightly schemes that went on in my head on how I could make my cell phone meet its horrific demise). But now that I feel like we have almost…

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Santa Barbara Oil Spill


Imagining the suffering of birds and mammals that encounter the spilled oil in Santa Barbara is heartbreaking. Just the other day, I was out birding when I stopped on the walkway to look for a bird in a tree. I was about to move on but found I was stuck. I looked down and saw that my sneaker was stuck to tar that had not cured properly in a repaired area of the walkway. It was gross and I cannot not even fathom being covered in the stuff. We all need to do more to ensure that oil spills do not happen and to respond quickly to mitigate the damage.


I was in Santa Barbara this past October (2014) and was thrilled to see all of the birds in around the beach. When I was growing up in California there were so few birds compared to nowadays. I am thinking this was because of pesticides that have been banned since then. I spent a lot of time down on the beach watching the birds during my recent visit. I snapped a few photos which I share here.


Kudos to the International Bird Rescue and other responders that are rescuing birds!

If you are a California resident please visit Audubon’s website and send an easy request to your senator for no new offshore drilling off California coasts. 


International Bird Rescue can be reached at the following number for emergency oiled wildlife response or an oil spill drill, call +1 (888) 447-1743 to reach the Duty Manager (no other inquiries, please).