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Conversation with a Bird Rehabilitator
July 30, 2012

Back from our short respite.

Three days at our favorite bed and breakfast (Gingerbread House) in Bay View, Michigan.

Bay View, I suppose could be considered a suburb of Petoskey.

No matter, I love it Up North and near the Big Lake.

I could easily call it home.

We aren't even unpacked and I'm busting away to get a newsletter out to you for Monday afternoon.

(No time for graphic changes except the pictures this week.)

Does that seem right to you?


We were blessed with some much needed rain on Thursday and Friday.

Close to 2 inches total.

I don't know if that is considered a drought buster or not.

I know they have had much more rain in northern Michigan than down here in Southwest Michigan.

I know that much of North America is still in drought conditions and is in need of rain, after rain, after rain.

Jeri Crouch of Texas (reader of newsletter) is a fighter and a survivor.

With the drought and water ban going on, Jeri takes the bath water and uses it to water plants and trees.

Sure it is added work and sounds like a real pain in the neck.

For some of you it may sound too much like work.

Still, fighters do what has to be done to keep things going and growing.

Why allow all of that water to go down the drain when it can keep so many plants going and growing.

Kudos to you Jeri.

Thank you for sharing your water saving and double duty tip with other.

Water used for cooking, as long as there isn't added salt, can also be used as a nutrient filled drink for plants.

Think of it.

Hard boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, boiled beets, cooked beans, corn on the cob, you name it, the salt free water can be used to water and feed your plants.

Gardeners are thinkers.

I am blessed to have so many talented people as subscribers.

Everyday people with years of common sense and experience.

People that have gone through the wars and struggles of gardens.

I have been blessed to have radio personalities, biologists and other scientists,.

People that work for various branches of government.

I am blessed to have you as a reader.

A while back I enjoyed an e-mail conversation with a person in Ohio, who just
happens to be a bird rehabilitator.

She specializes in backyard birds and one special species in particular.

It is a busy time of year and difficult to glean more from her right now.

I have her blessings to share with you a bit of a so called interview from some time ago.


Do you care to share your name and location with the rest of America and Canada?

My name is Tracy Brewer and I am in New Richmond, Ohio....Clermont County.

(Hummingbird Cages)

I live in the country on 8 acres...a 1/4 mile off the road so I raise my birds to be used to me and trust me so that when they are released they know they can come back to me if they need a hand or help. That way I can
continue to monitor them and see if they are doing okay or in trouble. I love doing it that way....then I know for sure if they are adapting and working things out. And if they are not... then I can get them back for awhile.

I live far enough away so my birds do not come into contact with other people, cats, dogs, cars, or roads, so I can raise them like pets because they will not encounter any harm from humans etc. They eventually slowly grow wild.... so that is the way I do it...and I watch the process as they slowly and gradually become independent of me and grow wild. It is the best way...and the easiest on them and the biggest favor I can do for them.

Do you have a name for your center?

That is one of the many things that I am working on. I have a name that I want to use but it is not registered yet and I am going to apply to become non-profit and become an actual organization...but that is in the works and not finished yet. I am planning a recruiting meeting probably in March to see if I can get some sub-permittees to work under my Federal. I have way too much stuff to do...the paper work is unbelievable to get all of this taken care of. I will let you know when I've finished all of it.

Do you have a website or email where people can contact you?

No website as of yet.......I wish I did but my computer skills are non-existent to set one up as well as no money to pay for no website right now. However feel free to put my e-mail out there if you want. My name and phone number are on certain websites anyway....such as the ODNR ( under the Division of Wildlife ) plus some other wildlife websites.

Do you have a background, Biology, Ornithology etc?

No actual college background in any of that....wish I did.

How and why did you get started as a rehabilitator?

As far as why I got into this I really have no idea...LOL....

I volunteered at Houston Woods State Park Nature Center in Ohio MANY MANY
years ago...when I was about 17 yrs. old I think and that got me hooked working with birds.

I worked for a veterinarian hospital for 18 I had the advantage of learning a lot of medical stuff from the 3 veterinarians there. I went to many wildlife training seminars and classes and meetings thru the years. I volunteered as a sub-permittee with the Cincinnati Zoo Wildlife Rehabilitation program. Then it just escalated from there. People that bring you a bird once NEVER...EVER lose your phone number....and they pass it on to you kind of gain a reputation and have a lot of repeat customers and new ones.

Anyway I've been at it for quite awhile on and off. And now since I have my own Federal License I can work on my own and have the opportunity and advantage to hopefully get many more people to pursue wild bird rehab.

Wild Bird Rehabilitators are in such short supply in this is ridiculous and sad that there are so few of them. So that is my dream and my find others to help all of these birds that we as humans are carelessly destroying by all of the problems that we have created....we are taking everything away from them....including their lives.

99% of the birds I get are never because of an act of is always because of something man has done.....whether it is from our
cutting down their trees..etc.etc. We at least need to help the ones that we are hurting. So that is what I am trying to do in my little tiny corner of the earth.

That is interesting Tracy, your passion and the fact that so many sick or injured come from humans presence.

I'm sure this is at your home (raptors get the centers and all the attention).

You are so right Ron..(smile )...raptors do get the centers and all of the attention... ( I knew I liked you...) and yes you are right again.....I do this from my home. But, you just wait..... when I win the lottery all of those unimportant little birdies are going to have a huge center that any raptor would love to hang out in....with TONS of people to help care for them.

If I'm not being too nosy, how do you pay for all of this, your pocket, donations, grants?

My pocket.

Donations are very few and very small if any...mostly they are non existent. Twice in all of these years I got a $100.00 donation from two different people...what a huge surprise those were. Most of the time it is $2.00 or $5.00...or nothing....LOL. I have never applied for a grant...I thought you need to be a non-profit in order to do that but I am not sure.

Tracy, I believe anyone can apply for grants for just about any topic, research, schooling, and even rehabilitators, if you know where to look.

Do you have another job or family that helps?

No....I do not work any longer because of the surgery I had and because a doctor said I had MS...but I am not claiming that one. I have asked GOD to help me with all of this and HE has and HE is. I trust in my I don't have that disease....and I have many many things to do and accomplish yet...I'm just getting started...( smile )....thank you GOD. I don't have much family left......and no I don't get help from family. I just nickel and dime it...and I have someone that donates his time to build cages and stuff for me for free so that is good.

Praise God.

Why hummingbirds and how do you get them along with other birds?

This year seemed to be an unusually large amount of injured and sick Hummingbirds. I am always amazed that people even find them as small as they are and hard to see but they just bring them to me. I think I had about 17 this year....including the 9 that I currently have. I am listed with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and other places like local veterinarians....parks... animal shelters etc and if they get a call from someone who found a bird then they give those people my phone number and then they call me and I take it.

Do you participate in bird banding?

You know actually I thought about banding them but I have never done it for two reasons. One....I wonder if banding them could be a possible danger for them in certain situations. On more than one occasion I have gotten a ring that I was wearing caught on a tree branch while I was working in the actually went up under my ring and I had to back out of it to get loose...that made me stop and think about the bands on legs of birds...they are loose and birds land on tree I have often wondered how many may have become "caught" on a branch and either broke a leg or never got loose and died from starvation or predators.

Anyway I know it is done all the time for research and it is necessary but I have never totally convinced myself to do it to my rehabbed birds. I toss it back and forth but I am not sure yet. I would absolutely love would be great to be able to ID some of my birds that may be hanging around months and years down the road. So.....I still may do it someday...just not sure. And I think that I have to get Special Permits to do that as well....( laughing ) have to apply for Special Purpose Permits for all kinds of things if you have your own Federal Permit.

I need some help. I've had people call me from far away in other parts of the state...and tell me they had no one else to contact....that is sad.

What do you do with the birds that you can save?

Some are injured and some are on the mend and one is this year's baby and is perfectly healthy and feisty. Some will be released come spring....and some are non - releasable...those I will need to try to find permanent homes for. Federal law requires a special purpose permit per bird and you have to use them for educational purposes. So I will have to find some rehab centers that are interested in them.

Actually the food I feed them is made in has everything they need...and they can live on it indefinitely. It is a powder that you mix with water....I actually tasted it and it smells and tastes like vanilla is very good...( laughing ) dessert. Anyway they do great on it. I just wanted the flowers to give them an extra bit of fun and something interesting to do.

These little guys actually do have great personalities and they show excitement and interest in things...and they also get bored. I have one little guy that is my favorite....he has neurological problems and an injured wing and is not releasable but he has the greatest laid back personality I have ever seen. He is such a nice little guy...and he really gets excited over flowers and taking a bath. His name is Mack....( yes I name all of them.

I have to so that I can keep track of is too confusing if I didn't...and also I need to keep records on each one....I have to send a State and also a Federal report of every bird that I do at the end of the year....lots of red tape.

I see by the pictures, you rehabilitate other birds too.

He (Blue Jay) came in almost dead and could not stand because the toes on both feet were knuckled under into balls. I decided to give him a chance and after supportive care for three days I separated and taped each toe down straight and put shoes on him...I left them on for 18 days and he could stand and walk around as you can see from the picture.....and when I took them off...... his feet were perfect.

He grew up healthy and I released him, that was a couple years ago.

Happy endings are nice to remember.

Do many of your treated and released birds return or hang around?

Yes....98 % of my birds that I raise from babies come back to me.....many of them hang around and come back for months.

How do you manage all of this?

After I raise them in the house and they are eating on their own... I then put them outside in flight cages where they stay 24/7 for a minimum of 2 weeks sometimes more where they are exposed to every kind of weather they will have to experience in the wild. Their feathers get conditioned and they get plenty of exercise flying around and they get used to the area where they will live. I have two very large outdoor flights.... one is 30 feet long by 25 feet wide by 8 feet high and another is I think 25 feet long by 20 feet wide by 7 1/2 feet high...( I can't remember it's been so long since they were built.) I have double entrance doors on them so that I can walk in with no danger of them getting out before they are ready.

Blue Jays are notorious for sticking around....( they are also my favorite and my specialty along with Crows and Hummers) will not find a more intelligent likable friendly funny bird with an incredible personality than Blue Jays and Crows. I've had Blue Jays stay around for 6 months. They hang out on the porch....look in the windows and follow me when I am outside and they actually come onto the porch and call until I come outside at which time they fly right to me.

Earlier this summer I was planting a lot of flowers and pulling a lot of weeds and one of my Jays that I had released would
continually fly in and get down on the ground a few inches next to me and pick up clumps of dirt and move them an inch away.....and repeat it and repeat it..over and over was like he was helping me weed and plant....and actually I think he cracked me was hilarious...and I would hand him a little weed or clump of dirt and he would take it and move it an inch away and then put it on the ground.....and he would do this for long periods.

I wish I would have gotten a video of him. I can tell you some stories about Blue Jays that you would never believe. I love those birds. People have the wrong idea about them and have given them a bad reputation which they do not deserve simply because people do not realize understand or experience what they are really like. They are amazing.

Any last words?

One person can't handle all that needs I am hoping and praying that I can find some people that want to do this with me. I am going to have a meeting in the spring to invite the public and see if I can find some people interested in pursuing this.

If you know anyone that lives in the general area.... Cincinnati.... Oxford...
Hamilton... Fairfield... Milford... New Richmond.... Amelia.... etc. etc.... that might be interested in this PLEASE PLEASE let me know,
I would love to talk to them.

Okay, I'm going now....I have 9 Hummingbirds that I have to go change their food and put to bed now...( Laughing )

GOD Bless you Ron....have a good day tomorrow.

And God less you Tracy for all you do.

If you are willing to donate money or time to a rehabilitator in your area, they will welcome you with open arms.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives.

Tracy Chapman

Even in these difficult times, helping and sharing with strangers is still a good thing. Sadly, we must pick and choose when to serve. Angels are everywhere, ask God for wisdom.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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