This Saturday is your chance to visit, and help support, injured and abandoned baby birds being cared for by the Alabama Wildlife Center (AWC).
The AWC is hosting its annual Baby Bird Shower to celebrate over 1,000 baby birds it anticipates caring for throughout the summer.
“The baby bird shower is a really important event for the AWC,” said Doug Adair, executive director. “It has grown into a fun event for the whole family … where folks in our community can come and learn about what we do, see how we take care of the baby and adult birds, and participate in games, crafts and activities for the kids.”
Established in 1977, the AWC is the state’s oldest and largest wildlife rescue and rehabilitation and conservation education organization. As a nonprofit organization, the AWC is supported by membership dues, individual and local business donations, and corporate and foundation grants.
“Each year we take care of about 2,000 orphaned or injured native wild birds, and get them ready to be released back into the wild,” Adair said. “We also present over 400 conservation education programs throughout the state, literally from Huntsville to Dauphin Island.”
Currently, the AWC has over 100 birds from 22 species in its nursery and rehabilitation facilities. From tiny blue-gray gnatcatcher and ruby-throated hummingbirds, to a rarely seen yellow-billed cuckoo and summer tanager, the staff and volunteers prepare individual treatment options and care plans to guide a path to release.
“Caring for injured and orphaned baby birds is quite a task,” Adair said. “While it varies from species to species, and depending on their injuries, many of these baby birds have to be hand-fed every 20 minutes for up to 16 hours a day. So you can imagine the commitment that is required from our amazing volunteers and staff at the AWC.”
The care and dedication AWC provides is critical. According to the National Audubon Society, as of 2016, one-third of wintering North American bird populations have declined since 1966, and the North American Bird Conservation Initiative found that over one-third of North American bird species are at risk of extinction due to climate change, pollution, habitat loss and predation.
To “chirp in” and help support the work that the volunteers and staff are doing, baby shower attendees can bring a gift from the wish list found on AWC’s website and Facebook page – from bags of sunflower or thistle seed, to hardwood logs, pet carriers and medical supplies. In addition, tax-deducible monetary donations are accepted. Every donation helps the AWC defray costs, allowing staff and volunteers to continue to care for thousands of Alabama’s wild birds that need help every year.
“We encourage everybody to come out,” Adair said. “It’s just a fun time for the whole family. … There will be owls, hawks and falcons — a host of education ambassadors that you can meet up close and personally.
“It is a great opportunity to be introduced to the beautiful wildlife resources that we’re blessed with here in Alabama,” Adair said.
The Baby Bird Shower will be Saturday, May 26, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The celebration is free with admission to Oak Mountain State Park ($5 for adults, $2 for children 6-11 and seniors 62 and older, free for children under 6).
The center is at 100 Terrace Drive, inside Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham, AL 35124.
If you happen to find a bird that may be injured, sick or orphaned, call the AWC’s Wildlife Help Line, 205-663-7930, ext. 2, and the trained specialists will determine if the bird should be brought to the center. The Help Line is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.