Want to work with eagles? Wildlife rehab training this weekend

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 Golden eagle was rescued from the shoulder of Highway 6 on Matthew Hill, mid-way 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 Kelly helped implement it. Tests revealed that this magnificent raptor was suffering from acute lead poisoning and she subsequently died.

But for every tragedy, there is a triumph. First you clean a pen housing six charming rascal raccoons. Next you delicately feed a baby hummingbird with a tiny syringe. Later you are rewarded by watching that hummingbird, an emerald-feathered blur, as it takes flight into freedom. Your heart breaks when a big-eyed baby cottontail rabbit dies after being caught by a dog, but it lifts when you watch six raccoons climbing a tree in their first dusky twilight of a free life.

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. It can be hard work. During the busy "baby season," 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.

Last year, Kelly attended ESWC'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 Center where she has encountered goldfinches and hummingbirds, eagles and hawks, raccoons, ducklings, squirrels, and more.

You, too, can become an animal care volunteer for Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care. Not sure if it is for you? Learn more about the job and the animals we help.

Come to the free New Volunteer Orientation on Sunday, March 27, 2011, from 1-3 pm at the Union Bank Meeting Room on Main Street in Bishop.

Call 760-872-1487 to register and for further information.

Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care is located at:
Post Office Box 368, Bishop, CA 93515-0368