Saving birds one wing at a time


Courtesy of Carly Anderson

Junior Carly Anderson readjusts a branch for the birds to hang on. Even though Anderson is busy, she had to comfort one distraught bird so she could focus. “There’s a really young pigeon that just sits in his cage and cries until someone takes him out and holds him,” Anderson said. “One day there was a lot of work to do, so no one had time to sit and pay attention to him, but he just kept crying and crying so eventually I just put him on my shoulder and let him watch me work.”

Volunteering her time as a medical intern at Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center (WBR),  junior Carly Anderson works doing various activities, ranging from spraying down old cages to digging up worms.

Initially, Anderson was not excited to work for the rehab center, and she did not intend to work there long.

“Working with the WBR started as a way for my family and [me] to spend time together over the summer while also contributing a little something to the community. I was a little disappointed at first because if I had the choice, I would have been working with baby raccoons and rabbits at the Wildlife Rescue Center,” Anderson said. “But because of their age restrictions, WBR was our only option if we wanted to work with animals.”

As she progressed, Anderson started to have a change of heart, growing more comfortable and seeking more training.

Courtesy of Carly Anderson
Anderson grabs the bird’s cup and refills it with water.

“After we went through the initial training, I was dead-set on not having anything to do with the medical work and only spend my time with the baby birds,” Anderson said. “As time went on, I became more and more comfortable around the Emergency Room and Nursery, and I decided to take my training a step further.”

The notion of “out of sight, out of mind” never occurred to Anderson until she started working more, eventually learning more about the unique personalities each bird possesses.

“Before I started volunteering for WBR, I never really gave birds a second thought, but the more time I’ve spent with them, the more obvious it is that each bird really has its own personality and attitude,” Anderson said. “I’m pretty adverse to change, but WBR has taught me to keep my options and mind open because there is no telling how things will turn out until you try them, and seeing how I’ve grown since I started volunteering has been really eye-opening for me in terms of future career options and interests outside of school.”

With her increasing experience in the health industry, Anderson is inspired to further improve her skills and pursue health services, even considering it to be a potential career.

“I am leaning towards a career in health services, but whether I’ll be working with people or animals is something I am using this experience to try and figure out,” Anderson said. “I think doing what I do is really unique, and it provides a lot of insight and exposure to the medical field and sides of nature that I would otherwise know nothing about. I really enjoy learning the science behind certain medical procedures and treatments and trying to connect that to what a doctor would do in a hospital for people.”

Not planning to stop, Anderson has been volunteering since May.

“I have been working really hard to make at least one shift a week since my family and I started volunteering in May, which is the start of the peak season for baby birds,” Anderson said. “As long as there are patients, I’ll keep doing what I can to help. In terms of hours, I think I’ve worked a little over 70 so far and will continue adding to that throughout the winter.”

As Anderson continues to pursue her volunteer work, she always encourages others to try and find any opportunities to help the community in general, even if it has nothing to do with their field of interest.

“I think volunteering in general is a really important thing that everybody should push themselves to do. It really helps you learn more about your community and find value in your work,” Anderson said. “I understand that not everyone has the same interests and priorities that I do, but I still encourage my friends to come out and volunteer as much as they will listen because I think having the opportunity to learn and work in an environment like this is just absolutely fascinating.”