When Kelly Bahr became an animal care volunteer for Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care she never imagined she would do physical therapy on a Golden eagle.
But a few weeks ago, she did just that. The eagle was rescued from the shoulder of Hwy. 6 on Matthew Hill midway between Hammil and Benton.
On admission, the female eagle had tightly clenched talons and could only stand on her hocks. While working to find the cause of this problem, ESWC Director Cindy Kamler ordered therapy and Bahr helped implement it.
Tests revealed that this magnificent raptor was suffering from acute lead poisoning and she subsequently died.
Volunteering to help injured and orphaned wild birds and mammals is not for everyone. New volunteers receive training before starting work, but there is always more to learn.
During the busy â€śbaby season,â€ť volunteers and staff are at work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, indoors and out. Some baby birds are fed as often as every 20-30 minutes. Baskets and cages need changing, aviaries and pens need raking and hosing, dishes are washed, floors swept and mopped. There are diets to prepare and medications to administer.
The work challenges the body, brain and heart. A sequence can run from cleaning a pen full of six charming rascal raccoons to delicately feeding a baby hummingbird with a tiny syringe.
The rewards come later, when watching that hummingbird, an emerald-feathered blur, as it takes flight into freedom.
Last year, Bahr attended ESWCâ€™s New Volunteer Orientation and made the commitment to take the follow-up training classes.
Ever since, she has worked a weekly shift at the ESWC Center where she has encountered goldfinches and hummingbirds, eagles and hawks, raccoons, ducklings, squirrels and more.
A free New Volunteer Orientation will be held from 1-3 p.m., Sunday, March 27 at the Union Bank Meeting Room on Main Street in Bishop.
Call (760) 872-1487 to register and for further information.