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It's evening, the end of another busy day. The final feedings and health checks are done, and I find the rare quiet time at my desk soothing. As I sit, pen in hand, I think about the stories I would love to share with you - inspiring stories about severely injured birds who beat the odds and survived; poignant and sometimes humorous anecdotes about orphans learning to eat, fly, and fend for themselves; and the often heroic efforts undertaken to save a single life. I wonder if these stories touch you in the way they do me ... I think they do.

 

You demonstrate how much you care every time you make a donation, every time you play a part in the rescue, recovery and release of a bird.


Take, for instance, the Red-tailed Hawk attacked by a larger hawk in Rincon Valley. He was so badly hurt survival was hard to imagine. But the rescuers didn't turn away. They cared, and brought him to us.

He was a mess. The lens of his right heye was scratched and puncture wounds scarred his body. He was missing more than a few feathers and had deep lacerations on his scalp. There were also signs of possible brain injury. There was clearly a bigger, badder hawk in town, but we were here for this one.

 

His long road to recovery began with a multitude of medications to help with pain, healing and nourishment. We soaked his face daily to remove debris and prevent infection, and used specialized wound patches to keep his skull clean until the swelling subsided and we could stitch his head back together.

As days turned into weeks and then into months, each wound gradually healed until the hawk looked and acted more like the impressive specimen he as meant to be. After months of vet visits and opthamologist appointments, we were in the home stretch. I remember holding my breath as we turned him loose for the first time in our flight hallway. Would he be able to fly? He could, and he did. With each successive flight he recovered his maneuverability and built strength and stamina. After four months of care and rehabilitation, countless hours of flight conditioning, and manually replacing the numerous feathers destroyed in the attack, we returned him to the wild.

It's stories like his that motivate me. There are the challenges that, thanks to donors like you, we've become expert at overcoming. And with each new challenge we've faced - and our area has had more than its share - we've developed additional and hard-won expertise.

Now, there is a new challenge to overcome - one that brings death and destruction, and threatens the lives of all the birds in our care...

 

Since fall of 2021 when it began heading our way from Eastern Canada, we have been trackingt the progress of a deadly avian virus. The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) had already killed vast numbers of birds by July 2022 when it arrived in the North Bay. HPAI has continued its spread around the globe, impacting every continent on our planet with the exception of Australia, decimating both poultry farms and wild bird populations. Morst recently, it surfaced in Antarctica's penguin populations. HPAI is highly contagtious and almost 100% fatal. There is no treatment, no cure. As with many viruses, it has crossed species. To date, it hss infected foxes, skunks, mountain lions, dolphins and seals. It has most recently caused the death of at least one polar bear.

Your gifts ensure we successfully meet each new challenge.

Spring / Summer 2024
ashtonsignature.png

Ashton Kluttz

Executive Director

PS  Your gift today will sustain the ongoing efforst that give thousands of birds a second chance at life.
You're making an investment in saving lives right here in our own backyard.

BRC's first encounter with HPAI involved the deaths of an entire flock of Canada Geese. Since then, we've had to change countless policies and procedures. We've implemented strict quarantine protocols and adopted rigorous contagion and disinfection routines. We've collaborated with local, state, federal and international organizations, sharing information and data to help mitigate the virus' impact.

 

Despite the prevalence of HPAI and the limited options for quarantine afforded by our outdated and cramped WWII-era quarters, we have so far been successful in protecting our education birds and preventing cross-contamination within our rehabiliation hospital.

 

But as you read this, we're facing our busiest time fo year, expecting 70% of the 2,500 birds we treat annually to arrive over the next few months. With the influx of vulnerable baby birds that happens each spring, we must create additional quarantine facilities.

 

Knowing we will be moving in the not-to-distant future, we've researched a cost-effective, protable solution: customized shipping containers. These containers will function as quarantine wards to keep potentially infected birds from entering the main hospital. They can also be relocated to our new facility as part of a permanent solution for managing contagious diseases. Born out of necessity today, we are able to prepare for the future.

 

Each challenge we successfully meet helps us develop the knowledge, skills and expertise necessary for the next one. Just as wekno there will be a next one, we also know that together we can ccreate a brighter future. Because, as we rise to meet every new challenge, we are healing birds and saving lives. These birds, healthy once more, help maintain our local ecosystems, making it possible for us all to thrive.

 

With all my heart,

To date, more than one million domestic birds have had to be destroyed in Sonoma County because of HPAI. The number is three times that throughout the entire state of California and there's no telling how many wild birds have succumbed. It is currently affecting the care of close to one fifth of all the birds we receive.

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