August 23, 2020
A Friend in Need ... Is a Friend Indeed!
As soon as there was smoke, we were on alert. We've been closely monitoring the fires in west Sonoma County as well as those in Napa, Marin and Lake counties because we know firsthand what they can mean for a wildlife facility.

The incredibly special thing about wildlife nonprofits in the Bay Area is that we are all connected; we share information, we share resources, and we consider each other friends. As soon as one is in need, we all pitch in. When BRC needed to evacuate during the Tubbs Fire and during last fall's power outages, our sister organizations opened their doors immediately and offered us a safe haven.

Today BRC is currently in a "safe zone", and we are returning the favor.

Pictured Left is Clinic Supervisor, Sarah Brady, preparing one of our vacant resident raptor mews for new arrivals.
Emergency Planning
Our Hospital Manager, Katie Miller, developed a thorough and precise plan for preparing our facility to receive patients and resident birds from other facilities, making sure we were prepared should any of our sister facilities need assistance.

When we got the call from Napa Wildlife Rescue that they were evacuating, we were ready. Since their designated safe space did not have outdoor space for songbirds, both BRC and Native Songbird Care and Conservation in Sebastopol volunteered to help. Together, we would make sure that each and every one of those songbirds were moved out of harm's way and into a safe environment.

Pictured are three of seven doves among the 33 birds we received from Napa Wildlife Rescue.

With almost 200 birds already in our care, we welcomed 33 evacuees from Napa Wildlife Rescue. Disoriented, scared—and yes, often loud—the evacuees arrived at our door sparking a flurry of exams, paperwork, and movement from carriers to exam rooms to aviaries.

Together with Hospital Manager Katie Miller and Clinic Supervisor Ian Sophie, we worked well into the night. While the hours were long, the rewards were great. We ensured the safety of three dozen more birds—a mix of crows, jays, doves, sparrow, towhees, blackbirds, and juncos!

Pictured are two of four evacuated crows from Napa Wildlife Rescue.
Preparing for More
As evacuation zones have expanded, we have continued our preparations for other birds in need—those from facilities in direct danger; displaced falconers; and those that escaped from fire and smoke regions as well as the usual intake of birds we experience during this time of year.

Our Handler and Hospital teams have been hard at work cleaning all the extra aviaries and maximizing our indoor spaces should we need to bring birds inside due to hazardous air quality. Even our Turkey Vulture Residents, Barf and Arnold, have graciously sacrificed their 'gym' for other birds that may need it.

It's a lot of work and we are celebrating every life saved!
Your donations make it possible for us to care for one of nature's greatest gifts.


The birds we save are vital to post-fire recovery.

The devastation we are experiencing due to wildfires makes it more important than ever to care for our native avian populations. Your gifts make this life-saving work possible—and helps ensure our native wild birds continue to thrive so our local environments can recover.
What Happens to Wildlife During a Fire?
According to Fish & Wildlife, "Most wildlife has evolved with fires and know how to respond to it. Their response to fire depends on the species, its habitat, and the fire’s behavior, however they don't always flee.

Most animals can escape fire when necessary. Birds fly. Land mammals walk and run. Amphibians and reptiles retreat into wet areas, burrow under logs or rocks, or escape to underground burrows.
Slow-creeping ground fires actually provide an opportunity to forage and hunt. Elk, deer, and bobcat have been seen returning to burned areas minutes after a fire has passed. Bear and raccoon will scout along an active flame front for snakes and other small animals that are moving ahead of the fire. Raptors typically circle over fires looking for mice exposed on the ground or insects caught up in a smoke column." (Read the full article here)
What we don't really know is the long-term affects on birds who escape wildfires. The heavy smoke and particulates can affect birds in ways similar to the impact on humans. It can damage lung tissue leaving them more susceptible to potentially lethal respiratory infections.

After the Tubbs and Kincaid fires, we found oxygen chambers to be necessary and beneficial in treating many of our avian patients.

Despite the potential harm, wildfires can actually offer benefits to a lot of bird species. Birds who feed on insects find a banquet of new and newly exposed bugs. Raptors may find it easier to find rodents, snakes and other prey with less ground cover.
Throughout history, nature has provided a balance between devastation and rebirth, using fires to destroy as well as renew. Due to climate change there are not only more wildfires and more severe wildfires, there are more areas in the Western US that are affected by wildfires. What the long-term results of this new trend are remain to be seen.

But we can take hope from the fact that our bird populations are resilient. And we are fortunate they are, because birds play a huge role in post-fire recovery by spreading seeds and pollinating plants. They help maintain the balance between plants and plant-eaters, predators and prey. They help transform entire landscapes and, as nature's most efficient cleanup crews, they prevent the spread of disease while at the same time promoting new growth.

When the flames are finally out and the smoke clears, listen for the calls of raptors soaring above, the sounds of birdsong filling the air—the sound of rebirth and recovery—and know that we will still be here caring for the birds in our area even as they help us recover from this most recent disaster.
To all our extended Bird Rescue family, please know that we are thinking of you and hoping you are safe. We are here if you need us...and we look forward to the time we can once again feel safe, secure and free to be with one another.


Ashton Kluttz
Executive Director
The Bird Rescue Center | 707/ 523-2473 | Email