Our hospital’s focus is to rehabilitate and release native wilds birds that are injured, orphaned or ill.
Each year, BRC receives between 2,500 to 3,000 birds, ranging from tiny featherless hatchlings to enormous eagles—approximately 120 species in all! Our patients are a combination of songbirds, raptors and water birds, 80% of which come to us as a result of human-related interactions. For example, we receive birds who have been injured flying into windows, electrocuted by utility wires, hit by cars, attacked by domestic pets and more.
Most (90 %) of the birds we handle come from Sonoma County, however we serve an additional four counties in Northern California—Napa, Marin, Lake and Mendocino. We receive referrals from organizations and clinics throughout the five counties we service, collaborate with organizations across the country, and provide guidance and expertise developed over the years to countless individuals and groups.
We have developed special expertise with some of the most difficult to treat species like California Towhees who stress so easily they won’t eat, crows who are boisterous, can be bullies, and are generally too smart for their own good, and kites whose instinct to hunt live animals is so strong they refuse to eat while in captivity and are notorious for damaging their gossamer feathers, which can add to their initial injury or illness. As a result, we have become a resource for fellow rehabilitation centers for these species as well as for other specialized treatments such as:
• Imping (feather replacement that enables shorter stays even for birds with damaged feathers)
• Creancing (a form of tethered flight that allows us to evaluate flight capabilities, recovery from wing injuries, stamina and conditioning)
• Live prey assessment and training
• Long-term care for critical injuries and difficult species like those mentioned above
Our hospital operates year-round with the majority of patients (75%) coming during the ‘baby season’ (April – September). During this time, it is not uncommon to have hundreds of baby birds filling our wards at once, needing to be fed every half hour. Once the flurry of baby activity subsides in September, we switch gears to more medically intense raptor cases over the winter months. Winter of 2020-2021 also brought with it the Salmonellosis outbreak throughout our area and the western seaboard. Our hospital was one of a network to monitor the spread of the disease and deliver critical information as to how we could help prevent further spread as the Pine Siskin species of birds moved through.
Northern California is a unique and biodiverse region with an abundance of open space to support a healthy wild bird population. In addition, it is in the migratory path for other birds who stop to rest and feed before continuing their journeys. As our human populations expand into these open and forested areas, our wild birds have become unintended casualties. With wildfires in Sonoma County adding even more destruction to their natural habitats, our avian wildlife is being forced to coexist with humans, many times to their detriment. Our mission in caring for injured and orphaned birds is to keep Sonoma County and our surrounding Northern California areas populated with native species in support of a balanced and thriving environment.
Birds are nature’s pollinators and seed spreaders, our best form of non-chemical insect and rodent control and nature’s best clean-up crews. With recent studies discovering that bird populations have declined by almost three billion in North America alone over the past 50 years, and that 70% of all bird species are under threat of extinction, our work is essential.
BRC is licensed under both the State of California and the federal government’s Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Our rehabilitation services are provided free of charge and receive no tax revenue or government subsidies. Our support comes from the generosity of those who have been helped by our services, from private individuals and corporations, and from competitive grants. Our work is typically conducted by over 120 trained volunteers who work under the supervision of a small professional staff and are assisted by licensed veterinarians. Volunteers normally provide over 20,000 hours free labor annually!