Did you know this is National Volunteer Week? April 23-29, 2017, specifically. It was great timing for me to do something I’d been meaning to do for a while: take a case of Dawn dish soap to a local wild bird rescue near me, and learn all about how they function thanks to volunteers.
This is my second year-long stint as a Dawn Wildlife Ambassador, and I’m still in awe of the passion I’ve witnessed by the people at Dawn for championing volunteers and supporting wildlife recovery groups.
I loved my visit to The Marine Mammal Center in California with Dawn, but was curious about what types of similar centers there were in my own area. So I searched, “wildlife rescue Dallas area” and immediately found a great one near me.
The Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center specializes in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured, sick and orphaned birds of all types.
I emailed and asked if I could stop by and they said to come any time. Last weekend, my kids and I went to take them a case of Dawn (provided by Dawn) as a donation, and to see what they do.
What a fun and happening place it is! The volunteers are incredibly welcoming, and told us to feel free to look around at all of the birds being rehabilitated outside. They warned us to give the pelicans plenty of space. Plenty of ducks, chickens, and peacocks roam free, and many birds are in transitional “flight cages” where they’re learning to function before being released back into the wild once they are healthy.
I loved meeting the volunteers. I spoke with two women who have worked there for years. As in, one has been coming every weekend for twelve years. Another comes four days each week.
I saw at least seven volunteers working, and they were nonstop busy. Clearly, they love what they do.
Each of the crates in that photo above holds multiple baby birds of various ages and sizes. The labels state how many times the birds need to be fed each day. There are shelving units like this one covering every wall in the center, and there are more shelves throughout the center of the room. There is plenty of work to keep all the volunteers busy!
I know that different centers have different volunteer requirements, but I was impressed that Rogers trains “on the job” and is willing to take volunteers whenever they are able to come and help. There’s a form on their website that you have to fill out before you come.
My daughter especially is very interested in helping, though she’ll have to wait a few years. Kids can volunteer once they’re 13, but have to come with a parent for the first few times.
Kathy Rogers, who founded and runs the center (which started with her rehabilitating birds in her own home for eight years) said that by helping, people learn whether this is their passion or not. Some people love the idea of participating in a dramatic release, but don’t realize there are months of worm chopping and syringe-feeding and cage cleaning that happen before that small moment.
But once people fall in love with this work, they’re generally there as often as they can be for a very long time.
And they’re all needed! While we were there, several people brought in baby birds, and Kathy explained that this is the busiest time of the year. They get in 20-30 baby birds per day right now.
Last year, they took in 800 baby ducks. They recently posted on their Facebook page that baby ducks “need their cages cleaned 2 to 3 times a day and we have to keep them until they’re a whole 6 months old. That’s 360-540 cage cleanings in their lives with us and we usually have multiple cages!!”
They are the only facility in North Texas that accepts all species of birds, so we saw all kinds. Most fun, though, were the baby emus.
I’d seen them running back and forth in their crate, but then they brought them out for us to pet them, and . . . let them down to run around! Seriously, the cutest things. They’ve rescued many emus over the years, and one has stuck around.
And it’s a hugger.
It lives with its BFF, a llama, who likes attention, too.
If you’re in Dallas, and you love birds, I highly encourage you to drive to Hutchins to check them out. Wherever you are, try searching the internet for “wildlife rescue” and the name of your area. I was totally surprised to find this amazing place I’d never even heard of before. You may be surprised to find something similar!
And talking to Kathy made me realize there are all sorts of great people out there doing great things for animals. She casually mentioned her friend who rescues squirrels, the guy who helps reptiles, etc.
They do run completely on donations, so monetary donations as well as supplies are greatly appreciated. Their list of supplies is here, and of course, Dawn soap is on it. Kathy said they use about a bottle a day at normal times, and multiple bottles each day when they have to do de-oilings, so the case I took them should last a little over a week!
Have you ever volunteered with animals? I absolutely love hearing about people who have found something they’re passionate about!
This post is part of my gig as a Dawn Wildlife Ambassador. All experiences and fascination with hugging emus are mine!--Nony