Morningside Park on Hurricane Sunday and NYC Wildlife Rehabilitation

On Sunday, when the hurricane had passed, after strolling the grounds of Saint John the Divine to check on the peacocks, I continued east to Morningside Park.  A downed tree completely blocked the 110th Street staircase:

The rain had been too much for it, and it had just toppled over from its roots:

The water in the little pond was as high as I’ve seen it:

A flotilla of more than 40 ducks swam about:

One or two dozed:

A few preened and nibbled at mites:

Two turtles swam near the water’s edge, looking for hand-outs, ducking under when I tried to snap a photo. Animals in the park seemed hungry after waiting out the storm. One squirrel dove straight inside a garbage can, then perched on the rim.

Robins fluttered through the trees on the hill, while sparrows foraged near the ball fields

A small flock of pigeons pecked hungrily in the grass

and one dark pigeon huddled behind a bench, clearly ill or injured.

I wondered whether I should do something to help it. I had tried once before to get help for a sick pigeon, but was shunted from one agency to another. All the while, I was standing in the rain on a street corner and worrying about being late for the theater.  As far as I can tell, the city doesn’t help pigeons, because, as feral animals (once domesticated and now wild), they are considered neither pets nor wildlife and as non-natives, they are not a protected species. I abandoned the bird that day, and did the same on Sunday.  But I’m not entirely comfortable with my decision, and have decided I need to formulate a personal policy, both compassionate and rational, on when, and how, to intervene with injured or ill animals.

Yesterday, I happened to pass the future home of The Wild Bird Fund.

The Wild Bird Fund is a non-profit organization that helps to save birds and wildlife in New York City.

Surprisingly, NYC is the only major city in the United States that doesn’t yet have a wildlife rehabilitation center, although it has its share of extraordinarily dedicated and skilled rehabilitators.

I crossed Columbus Avenue to Animal General Hospital, where Wild Bird Fund is currently housed, and asked the receptionist if the Fund helped pigeons.

“Of course,” she replied. “Pigeons are their star client.”

So if you find a bird in need, call Wild Bird Fund at 646-306-2862.  Until their own home is ready, the rehabilitators are working out of Animal General on the west side of Columbus Avenue at 87th Street.  They see wild bird cases by appointment only on Monday – Friday from 1- 3 PM. Their clients include owls, swans, kingfishers, ducks, hawks and, of course, pigeons.  They welcome donations.

Please comment to share your own experiences and thoughts on when, and how, to intervene with wild (or feral) animals.  And check back soon for follow-up posts on the subject.

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8 Comments on “Morningside Park on Hurricane Sunday and NYC Wildlife Rehabilitation”

  1. Harvey Brisbain Says:

    I called the Wild Bird Fund 2:20pm on Saturday after finding a very young bluebird(?) hopping along the sidewalk in midtown. Looking like it would be stepped on at any moment I called the only possible place and left a message (said it would be picked up at 5pm) and no one ever got back to me. The bird is in my office and may/may not live till Monday, when I hope someone will call?


    • Oh dear. The NYC Audubon website says that Animal Medical Center at 62nd & York Avenue in Manhattan will accept all wildlife 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They list the following info:

      Animal Hospitals and Rehab Centers
      Manhattan:
      Animal Medical Center Hours: 24/7
      62 and York Avenue (just east of York on 62nd Street)
      http://www.amcny.org

      Contacts:
      Dr Guesenbery 838-8100 ext 8622
      Dr. Hess 838-8100 ext. 8619
      Dr. Wyre 838-8100 ext. 8761
      Dr. Kottwitz 838-8100 ext. 8806

      *Client Service Manager is Gladys Quiles 212-329-8637

      • They will accept all injured wildlife. No charge.
      • No follow up phone calls to find out how bird is doing.
      • MUST tell them you are from NYC Audubon and make sure that they write this information with your name on the form.

      They also list Animal General, which is where Wild Bird Fund is currently based.

      I will post your predicament on Wild Bird Fund’s Facebook page as well, in case someone checks that. Tomorrow I’ll try to find some more info for you. Please check back and let us know what happens.


    • I want to add to my earlier reply the following info about wild birds, also copied from Audubon NYC website: WHEN FINDING AN INJURED BIRD, YOU HAVE THE OBLIGATION TO BRING IT TO A FEDERALLY LICENSED REHABILITATOR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, BUT NO LONGER THAN 24 HOURS AFTER YOU FOUND THE BIRD. KEEPING A WILD ANIMAL IN YOUR POSSESSION WITHOUT A FEDERAL PERMIT IS AGAINST THE LAW.

      Difficult to comply with, when you can’t find anyone to take the bird!


    • Late last night, I posted your situation on the facebook page of Wild Bird Fund. They replied this morning:

      If he doesn’t hear back from WBF this morning, please tell him to drop off the little bird at Wild Bird Fund on 87th and Columbus (northwest corner). If he can give any donation, however large or small, it will be appreciated! Thanks for posting this.

      Hope this helps. Please do let us know what happens.

  2. Gunnar Says:

    Great pictures. I am glad you were able to find help for the pigeons. I use to have racing pigeons. I know there are several vets out here that will treat them. Good job. Thanks for sharing.

  3. p hoey Says:

    Serendipity attends your every walk! The gods must be paying attention. I certainly am.

  4. Charlotte Says:

    Amazing you came across the Wild Bird fund on your walk. Once i found two miniscule baby hummingbirds on the sidewalk and didn’t know what to do. My vet gave me the name of someone in Torrence who rescued hummingbirds: i walked into her living room and about a hundred (or it just seemed that way) were in different states of repair, some sick under heat lamps, some flying in a netted area. it was pretty wild. I tried to look for her online but she’s not there. Otherwise the Audubon Society gives facts on what to do about sick birds; here’s the link for CA: http://ca.audubon.org/bird_faq.php

  5. Karol Omlor Says:

    Melissa, I love sharing your walks with you.

    Karol


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