January 1, 2020
As we bid farewell to 2019 and welcome the New Year, I’ve been reflecting on BRC’s whirlwind year!
On the last day of the decade, handlers were out with birds to soak up sunshine, inventory was being performed on our revamped gift shop, Brad was out releasing birds in Mendocino County, volunteers were busy cleaning mews and divvying up diets, and Katie was maintaining the hospital duties as our stalwart Hospital Manager. Life went on as usual at BRC, but the year has been anything but usual…
This year we treated 2,342 birds on site and successfully prevented at least 320 healthy birds from ever being admitted with the help of our phone team! We’ve seen an increase in the number of birds coming to us from other facilities, further solidifying our reputation as a key component within the wildlife community. We received 246 raptors of all species with 185 being admitted between May 1 st and August 4 th . Songbirds accounted for 1,664 patients with the top three species being House Finches (164), American Crows (157), and California Towhees (137). These three have rotated the top three spots for the past few years, and it’s no wonder since we do specialize in them! Waterbirds were a whopping 421 patients, with 201 coming from the W. 9 th Street Rookery.

We undertook two new projects in our hospital: the greenhouse and an expansion of our live prey program to include songbirds (and a few herons) as well as raptors. As we finalize the protocols during our quiet winter months, we know both programs will improve quality of life for our patients while in care and better prepare them for returning to the wild!
We continue to reach tens of thousands of children and adults through our Education program with our Resident Ambassadors. Our Ambassadors attended nearly 90 events this year—that’s nearly as many tour dates as your favorite bands! They also helped with our new Brunch with the Birds events during early summer. We were gladdened to see our attendees change from thinking Turkey Vultures were gross into becoming adoring fans of Barf and Arnold. We also snagged one attendee as a hospital intern! Another new on-site event was our packed night-time Owl Talk which provided our Great Horned Owls with the perfect opportunity to show off their vocal abilities!

I cannot reflect on our Ambassadors without mourning the loss of our Kestrels, Bob and Jujube. I became especially obsessed with Jujube after creating a padded princess mew that ended up overtaking the entire exam room last year. It was the first time I was able to experience the connection our Handlers have with our resident birds. I now adore Jujube from her magnet on my fridge every day and smile thinking about her feisty personality and love of pine-cone perches.
Our Handlers created more weathering space for our Ambassador birds to enjoy during their ‘off hours’ this year. They also experimented with allowing our similar species to interact and made great connections with some of our sister organizations. 
All of the above happened during one of the most tumultuous years in BRC history.
Last Christmas Eve, the county gave us written notice to vacate. As we worked to create stronger connections with our County Supervisors, we were humbled by the outpouring of support from concerned citizens. This support enabled us to negotiate an extension on our license and temporarily remain on the Chanate property.
In early spring, we secured two ideal acres for a new home in Cotati, signing a 34-year lease for just $10/year including utilities. The property’s owners, Heidi and Dave Jacquin, have become benefactors in so many ways, helping to carve a path forward toward our future. They introduced us to two local architects who offered their services free of charge and designs for the new center are underway! We received an offer of pro bono services from an HVAC and plumbing engineering company, Schlage Lock committed to providing free door closures and hardware for the entire facility, and we have received other offers of discounted services and materials for construction. This is providing us with a rare gift – an opportunity to create our dream center that will support our growth long into the future.
Our fundraising efforts have resulted in additional milestones. We engaged a professional fundraising consultant, Julie Bartice, this past May. Under her guidance we have been developing our fundraising messaging and materials. She has also been assisting in developing donor relationships. This work is resulting in additional financial support for daily operations and our capital campaign.
This summer, The Madrone Audubon Society raised $13,000 for a challenge match. In a little over 3 weeks, we raised more than $21,000 in matching funds, bringing over $34,000 into our capital campaign fund.
We also received capital campaign major gifts totaling $100,000 and we’ve built a relationship with a donor offering a $50,000 capital campaign challenge match in 2020.
Late in 2019, we received a $75,000 grant from the Dmarlou Foundation and a $25,000 gift from a private donor to sponsor portions of our new hospital.
And, to date, our annual appeal has raised over $80,000 – the most we have ever raised in a year-end campaign!
We’ve also had our share of great press coverage! We’ve been featured in the Press Democrat five times, the Sonoma Index-Tribune twice, and the Sonoma Gazette twice. We were invited to tape a radio interview for KRCB’s Sonoma Spotlight , and we were featured in a television segment of PBS's Bay Area Bountiful . And we have been written about in many blogs, on social media, and more! 
Our ongoing collaboration with fellow rehabilitation organizations proved critical during the Kincade Fire evacuations. We are so grateful to WildCare in Marin, Native Songbird Care and Conservation in Sebastopol, and Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue in Petaluma for temporarily housing our birds! And, of course, we are indebted to everyone who helped evacuate our patients, resident birds and essential equipment, who helped maintained communications, assisted our sister organizations in caring for our birds while in their facilities, and aided in the return to normalcy once the evacuations were lifted.
Throughout the year, local companies stepped up to hold fundraising events on our behalf. Our gratitude extends to Peterson Winery, Amy’s Drive-Thru, King’s Nursery, All About Owls, Loud and Clear, and WoodBeChic.
We've stretched our wings with our Outreach program which has provided opportunities to attend more community outreach events that would not be conducive for our Resident Ambassadors to attend. If you have been at any of our recent Open House events, you’ll see we have really upped our game – and the feedback and financial return is strong evidence that we are gaining traction in both attendance and donations.
Our Journey Forward
Those of you who have been volunteering onsite may have seen a number of private tours come through the center. We have found this to be a compelling way to showcase our hard work and the conditions in which we do it. These tours have engaged key leaders in the philanthropic community, and we have been delighted to receive their insights, feedback and generous support. A common thread to the feedback we’ve received is our dedicated, engaged and knowledgeable staff and volunteers, and how amazing it is that we do so much with so little. We are opening eyes within the community, and our reputation as a necessary service is being reinforced– and it is all because of the wonderful team of staff and volunteers – in other words, it is because of you!

BRC has been my second home almost 10 years. During that time, it has become apparent that a new facility is essential in order to safeguard our future and fulfill our potential. My dream is to lead BRC to a new and bright future where we will be able to provide more for our life-long Ambassador birds; have an education center and museum closer to that of The Monterey Bay Aquarium; create more opportunities for volunteer and staff engagement, develop stronger educational programs for local schools and our community; and continue to hone our skills and abilities so that each year we can return an ever increasing number of birds to the wild.

I am grateful to each and every one of you – for your commitment, dedication and support, and for putting in the long hours in less than ideal conditions. And most of all, I am grateful for your ability to look ahead and journey with me toward a brighter future for BRC and our native wild birds!

Ashton Kluttz

Executive Director

January 4th, 2020
from 10am - 1pm

Have fun learning about
ducks this month and
marveling at our Education Ambassadors!
We are open from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week.
Make a life-saving difference today!
The Bird Rescue Center | (707) 523-2473 | Email | Website