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Songbird rehabilitators of Nevada County recognized for saving hundreds of birds

Submitted by Susan Brandt Blachley
Six veteran songbird home-care rehabilitators at Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release are being recognized for taking in more than 400 injured birds, with more than half being released back into the wild.
Submitted by Susan Brandt Blachley

World Animal Day is October 4 and to celebrate six veteran songbird home-care rehabilitators, all who volunteer for Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release (WR&R) of Nevada County, will be recognized for their tremendous work in saving the lives of hundreds of songbirds with the Animal Guardian Award.

WR&R wrapped up the 2020 season with well over 400 intakes and over half released back to the wild. Since WR&R’s founding in 1985, the nonprofit organization has taken in and released thousands of local and migrating birds in Nevada County, nurturing their success and thus the success of their offspring that we enjoy in our forests and towns.

Despite an unprecedented challenging season, the Songbird Team volunteers of WR&R received hundreds of injured or orphaned birds beginning in April. Top reasons for intakes were cats and window and car strikes.

“Although rehabilitation of the many diverse species of songbirds and their near relatives takes an enormous team effort, the home care provider deserves special recognition. We are so glad to be able to acknowledge this selfless work with the Animal Guardian Award,” says Linda Adams, director of Bird Care and 13-year veteran rehabilitator.

The Songbird Team of 2020 included 400 intakes including American Robins, Acorn Woodpeckers, Western Bluebirds, Doves, Steller’s Jays, Scrub Jays, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Ravens, Crows, Flycatchers, Western Tanangers, Quail and more.

The 2020 Animal Guardian Award recipients are:

Connie Anderson, who specialized in American Robins, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Hummingbirds, Northern Mockingbirds and other species.

Janice Barbery, who specialized in insectivores and omnivores including Chickadees, Flycatchers, Grosbeaks, Nuthatches, Sparrows, Swallows, Swifts, Titmice, Warblers and Wrens.

Sandy Beach, who specialized in various Finch species including Lesser Goldfinch and House Finch. Jan Helminick, who specialized in Corvids including California Scrub Jays and Steller’s Jays.

Judy Lehner, who specialized in tiny hatchling Songbirds and other species.

Patty Thurston, who specialized in many species including turkey and California Quail.

“These dedicated volunteers deserve recognition for the support they give this community who entrusts them to help the injured birds they bring to the center,” said Susan Brandt Blachley, the founder of the Animal Guardian Awards. “I saw first-hand the work involved in feeding, medicating, and housing songbirds. It’s a full-time job being a substitute bird parent – and these volunteers put in hundreds of care hours from the time the birds first arrive until they are released.”

“We are so proud of these most dedicated volunteers and are delighted to be able to recognize them as they finally have a chance to retire and take a breather,” says Kathleen Willis, former Intake Center Director of six years. Of course, the biggest reward is seeing these birds recover and fly free back in the wild.”

The Animal Guardian Award recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses who are dedicated to helping at-risk animals. Established by Rational Animal, a non-profit founded in New York City, the first awards were given to rock icon Debbie Harry of the group “Blondie” for her support fundraising for 30 animal shelters in New York City and the Soho Grand Hotel for hosting many Dog Day adoption events. Several student classrooms have earned this award over the years via their schools’ extracurricular programs.


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