By Janet McAfee
Tucked away on an Indio side street, the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center is truly a desert gem! Many years ago, I delivered an injured bird to them and was amazed by their loving efforts to save each feathered creature. Linda York, their knowledgeable director, gave me a tour of the rehabilitation clinic and outdoor grounds with large recovery cages where the birds regain their wing strength. I gave a donation to enable this deserving non-profit to continue their work.
The Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center is a non-profit corporation created for the care and rehabilitation of orphaned, injured, or sick native wild birds, with the goal of releasing them back into their habitat. The Center educates our community in the ways and needs of these wild creatures to promote a deeper respect and understanding of the problems facing wildlife in an environment being altered by human activities. The center needs the support of Coachella Valley residents to continue to make an impact for the birds. We can all get involved on some level to help our feathered friends. Our lives are then enriched.
Linda York was in the news recently when the Palm Springs Wildlife Advocates delivered an injured Coopers Hawk found by the side of a road. The bird was dazed and unable to lift off. PSWA was able to capture her noting there was blood on her chest from a small wound and something wrong with a wing. They delivered her to the Bird Center where Linda York examined her immediately and determined the bird was a female who hatched this year. Linda suspected the hawk flew into a sharp tree branch or missed a landing. Linda and her volunteers tended to the wound, and after recovering she will be released. The lovely bird pictured here will once again sail through our sky!
The Center treats between 1,000 and 1,300 birds every year. Cooper’s Hawks are the number one species of bird treated, followed by American Kestrels and Barn Owls. The facility is situated on 9 acres of wetlands. Hopefully the wetlands will reopen this season once the Coachella Valley Water District redoes the liner and chlorinates the water.
I talked to Linda this week to learn more about her mission. She tells us, “I volunteered with birds at the Living Desert for several years and attended their classes about bird treatment. I was concerned about the large number of people turning in birds, and no one could take that many. Another concern was people finding birds and keeping them as pets, not knowing it is illegal to do so. These are wild birds, not parakeets or Cockateels; people can get hurt from the strong beaks of Falcons, Hawks, and others. This led me to establish the Wild Bird Center in 1995.”
Linda is a charming hostess greeting arrivals at the CVWBC. She has an entertaining and “wicked” sense of humor. I was surprised to learn she never had a pet bird as a child. Her pets included a shovel nose snake that she eventually released into her back yard. When young Linda went outdoors, the snake would come slithering towards her to play.
The Bird Center has access to avian veterinarians when needed. Linda has the skills and experience to treat many conditions and the stress level of some injured animals is reduced by not transporting them to other locations.
She has wise advice for local bird lovers who put out hummingbird feeders. “You must clean the container every other day because the sugar water ferments. You need to keep the part where the birds get their food very clean using a small brush or Q-tip. Bacteria can form causing the tiny birds to become ill, get fungal infections or worse. Due to the drought, put shallow water out for them in the shade, changing frequently and cleaning the container. Enjoy nature!”
Homeowner associations, park officials, and other property owners with trees should conduct tree trimming only between August until November. This avoids the nesting season and the possibility of killing little nesting baby birds.
THE BIRD CENTER OFFERS FREE BIRD WALKING TOURS ON THE FIRST SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH OCTOBER THROUGH MAY! THE WALKS BEGIN AT 8:00AM, LED BY A GREAT VOLUNTEER “BIRDER” ELIZABETH. REFRESHMENTS ARE OFFERED. TAX DEDUCTABLE DONATIONS ARE WELCOME!
The tours are fun and educational for visiting guests as well as young children. Tours are about 1 ½ hours long. The group walks to the open field and pond where 39 species of waterbirds and songbirds can be observed and identified. Reservations may be made online at www.coachellawildbirdcenter.org or call (760) 347-2647. The Bird Center is located at 46500 Van Buren Street in Indio, and they are open from 8:00am to 12:00noon seven days a week. You can donate online at any time!
COME VISIT AND MAKE SOME NEW FEATHERED FRIENDS!