New England’s largest bird rehabilitation center is seeing high numbers after a harsh winter.
The harsh New England winter has taken its toll on the wildlife consequently flooding wildlife rehabilitation clinics with injured and starving animals. Animal Haven in Freedom, Maine specializes in birds, rehabbing more birds than any other wildlife center in the North Eastern U.S.; 1,700 birds were admitted in 2014 alone.
The facility includes an indoor infirmary space and hospital, a full kitchen with food supplies to meet the needs of all avian species, 14 outdoor flight cages, and an all-season facility for aquatic birds. One of the most impressive buildings on the property is their large raptor compound with three rooms and a 160-foot flyway.
Injuries, poisonings, and starvation are all treated at Animal Haven. During the winter, owls can become injured when they hunt rodents eating litter along roadsides. Many birds have been found starving due to the 2014-2015 long, harsh winter; waterfowl had a hard time finding open water and many birds of prey couldn’t find the rodents tunneling in the snow. Rehabilitation for a starving bird or any animal is a delicate and slow process. Restoring fluid and electrolytes has to be done before the animal can accept solid food.
Animal Haven rehabilitates birds year-round and they also strive to educate the public on what they can do to help birds in the wild. They see a lot of eagles with lead poisoning that they attribute to eagles eating carrion containing lead shot or fish that have ingested lead sinkers. Other injuries treated at the facility include cat attacks, vehicle collisions, window strikes and orphaned baby birds. Many injuries are preventable, especially the injuries caused by litter.
The facility does not allow the public to see the birds, striving for minimal contact. But they do share pictures and videos on their Facebook page.
“The goal is to get these guys back into the wild where they belong,” said Diane Winn, Avian Haven co-founder and executive director.
“Wildlife rehabilitation has dwindled in the past 10 years,” Winn said, stating that there are about 50 active wildlife rehabilitators that hold state permits in Maine, and only about 20 of those have federal permits, which allows them to rehabilitate migratory birds and federally threatened and endangered species.
Avian Haven works closely with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and is funded largely through donations, as well as grants.