July is Wild About Wildlife Month: Featuring the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre for #WildWednesday

 Wild Wednesday: Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre is spreading its wings and flying to a new location

Wild Wednesday: Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre

We wake to their song and watch their beauty paint the sky. Birds are a part of our everyday life. We may go months without seeing other wildlife, but not a day does by that we don't see several different species of birds. Injured and orphaned birds require very specific care, and when a bird is in need the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre (OVWBCC) swoops in and takes it under its wing. 

Wild About Wildlife Month would not be complete without connecting with my friends at OVWBCC to learn more about the incredible work they do. The Centre was featured in the 2020 edition of Wild Wednesday, but a lot has changed since then. I asked Patty McLaughlin, the OVWBCC Education Program Manager, to tell me more about what they do at the Centre and what's new since last year? 

Wild Wednesday: Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre Paws For Reaction

Black-capped Chickadee.

"The Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre is a charitable organization that cares for over 4,000 injured, sick, and orphan wild birds each year with the goal of releasing them back into the wild," said McLaughlin. "This year marks our 40th anniversary of providing care to wild birds in Ottawa and it is certainly a very exciting year for us in many ways!"

The biggest and most exciting change at OVWBCC has been the preparations to move into their new location. It's been a very busy time for the team and they recently moved into a temporary location until their new building is complete. It's good news for the birds. If OVWBCC is expanding it means more birds can be cared for, which is definitely something to flap your wings about!

Wild Wednesday: Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre

House Finch. 

"The Centre began in 1981 when Kathy Nihei, our founder, successfully rehabilitated and released an injured Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Word quickly spread that Kathy was the 'bird lady' in Ottawa and rescuers brought hundreds of injured birds to her home until it was not feasible to provide care for that volume of birds in such a small location," McLaughlin said. "In 1991, a new Centre was built on Moodie Drive to provide additional space to the now thousands of birds needing care each year. This picturesque location has served the Centre well for 30 years but the demand for wild bird care continues to grow and it is time to move once again!" 

The OVWBCC team did some creative fundraising campaigns to help contribute to the cost of the new building. After 40 years of the community leaning on the Centre to care for wild birds in need, the community showed their appreciation by giving back. The OVWBCC team is grateful for the support and excited that the day they can fly into their new building is on the horizon.

"In 2019 the Centre purchased a 17-acre rural property and launched a building campaign to collect the funds needed to build an advanced care facility. Now with over 75% of the funds collected, the dream of this amazing facility is within reach! We are in the final stretch of the campaign," said McLaughlin. She shared the new building design (image below) and I can see why the team is so excited. The gorgeous building looks big enough to house thousands of birds in need, which is what the team cares about the most. 

Wild Wednesday: Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre new building

The building design for the new Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre 

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many businesses in our community. Often overlooked businesses like veterinary clinics and animal shelters have been increasingly busy, and the same goes for wildlife rescue. 

"Since the pandemic began, the Centre has received a record number of injured wild birds. We do not believe this is because more birds are getting hurt, we believe it is because more people are going outdoors, working from home, and taking an interest in bird watching," McLaughlin explained. "This means that more people are out in nature, thus increasing the chance an injured wild bird will be found."

More people staying at home and taking part in safe outdoor activities means more injured or orphaned birds are being discovered. There are a few wildlife rescues in Ottawa but OVWBCC is the only rehabilitation Centre in the area dedicated exclusively to wild birds, so most found birds end up in their care. When a bird flocks their way, there's one thing the team never does. 

"Throughout our 40-year history, we have never had to turn away a bird in need and we are determined to keep it that way," said McLaughlin. 

Wild Wednesday: Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. 

To be able to care for every bird that is brought to them during the pandemic is something the OVWBCC team should be proud of. Pandemic safety restrictions create difficulties for people who work with animals. Animal care makes it difficult to physically distance, and to safely house and care for animals you require one very important thing: space. Because of this, the Centre team flew the coop and nested in a temporary location.

"Although the dream of a new advanced care facility is close to becoming a reality, the Centre needed a bigger space immediately to be able to provide care for this increase in bird admissions during the pandemic. We have recently moved to a temporary location that is not only larger to accommodate more birds but will also allow us to safely welcome back more volunteers to help with bird care," McLaughlin said. "The Centre is now located just around the corner at 822 Cedarview Road, Unit C. Thanks to the tremendous support of our board, volunteers, staff, and community, we were able to complete this move and provide uninterrupted care for all wild birds in need."

Birds are very active in the spring and summer months, and the backyard can be an unsafe place. The OVWBCC team are advanced avian experts but for folks like me and many in our community, bird care is not our specialty. I don't know what to do if I find a bird in distress. What is safe to feed hummingbirds? What do I do if I find a baby bird? How do I make my backyard bird-friendly? OVWBCC shared some summer safety tips to help answer frequently asked questions about wild bird safety and baby birds.

July is Wild About Wildlife Month: Featuring the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre for #WildWednesday

House Finches. 

Summer backyard bird safety

 - Baby birds leave the nest BEFORE they can fly. There is no room to practice this skill in the nest. It takes about a week of hopping around and short flights for the young to be able to fly like mom and dad. 

What do I do if I find a baby bird? OVWBCC summer safety tips  frequently asked questions about wild bird safety and baby birds.

Photo provided by Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre 

- If you touch a baby bird, mom will NOT abandon it! Birds have a poor sense of smell, so we are able to move baby birds to a safer area (like from the road to a nearby bush) so parents can continue care. 

- Hummingbird nectar feeders should not be placed in direct sunlight because the sugary solution can quickly ferment on a hot day. A shaded area is preferred and make sure to change the nectar every few days.

Hummingbird Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre

Hummingbirds. Photo provided by Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre 

- Be a lazy gardener! Leave your dead flower stalks until next year. They are an important food source for both seed-eaters as well as housing many eggs and larvae in the stalks for insect-eating birds.

Goldfinch Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre

Goldfinch. Photo provided by Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre

- Turn off your lights! Most small songbirds migrate at night and artificial city lights distract and confuse them along their journey. The small action of turning off lights when they are not needed to be in use helps the thousands of birds migrating under the protection of the dark sky.  

- Keep your pets on a leash at all times or within the boundaries of your backyard. Millions of wild birds, including endangered and threatened species, are killed each year in Canada by roaming cats alone.

By rescuing, treating, and recovering wild birds, the Centre has provided our community's wildlife incredible support for 40 years. Working with wildlife is not an easy job. It takes a team of dedicated, fearless, and compassionate individuals willing to put the life of an animal first. Many of the OVWBCC team members volunteer their time because they care deeply about rescuing and rehabilitating birds. It's not an easy job but it's a rewarding job- and they love it. Even though they work tirelessly to save birds, they credit the community for being able to do what they love.

"As a Centre that relies on donations to operate and depends on a large team of dedicated volunteers, we are so fortunate to have such a strong community supporting us for the last 40 years. We are also grateful for all of our caring supporters that turn to us with all of their wild bird questions and seek guidance to help birds in their own backyards," said McLaughlin. "A big part of the work we do to help wild birds is through education and awareness. Whether that is through our Junior Avian Ambassador program, off-site or virtual presentations, through our newsletters, or social media, we are very encouraged to see so many people taking the time to learn about and understand how we can help these important creatures. You have already made a difference by taking the time today to learn more about the Centre."

Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre

Goldfinch. Photo provided by Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre

They flew onto the scene 40 years ago and in 2021, despite the pandemic, their wings are flapping stronger than ever. OVWBCC navigated a pandemic without turning away any birds in need, migrated to a different building to ensure they had space to provide proper care, and continued to provide the community a bird's eye-view on avian education. There is no doubt they will continue to soar in the future. 

"We can all do our part to make the world a safe and healthier place for wild birds. Collectively our small actions make a big difference in the lives of wild birds," McLaughlin said. "For those birds who have become injured and need a second chance at life, the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre is committed to providing the best care possible, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, 365 days of the year!"

Wildlife conservation is so important and conservation centres offer our community a valuable service. The work OVWBCC does is ensuring future generations will be able to enjoy the colourful and diverse bird species in the Ottawa Valley. Protecting these species helps maintain bird's role in our local ecosystem and promotes biodiversity that's important in the natural world. Birds help pollinate our food and flowers, control insect populations, disperse seeds, and can share critical information about the state of the environment around us. 

Wild Wednesday: Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre

Canada Geese. 

The OVWBCC believes every person can play a part in wildlife conservation in our community, whether you are a bird expert or not. Inside every wildlife centre volunteer, environmental scientist, and conversation official is something we all are capable of; kindness. 

"Conservation begins with one small act of kindness; the saving of one life."


July is Wild About Wildlife Month: Featuring the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre for #WildWednesday

CLICK HERE to learn more about the exciting new Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre facility and ways you can become an integral part of it! CLICK HERE to make a donation to OVWBCC. Never miss a chirp by following OVWBCC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and check out their YouTube channel to get an inside look at the Centre.

Thank you to the team at the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre for participating in #WildWednesday, and for all the incredible work you do.

July is Wild About Wildlife Month: Featuring the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre for #WildWednesday


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Wild Wednesday: Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre

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