I have been procrastinating writing this post. I wasn’t looking forward to sharing the update that the chestnut-sided warbler we took for rehabilitation was not victorious in the good fight. He died as a result of his injuries. Wildlife rehabilitation often boils down to simply giving an animal a second chance that it wouldn’t have otherwise had. Sometimes this means that release back into the wild is a joyful reality, and sometimes it means a humane end to suffering; at the very least, it means a safe place to slip away from this realm.
I have worked with wildlife in a volunteer capacity, and each loss is a sad one, but it’s the lift you get from occasionally setting a healed animal free that makes the risk of heartache worthwhile. And you remember every animal, regardless of the outcome. It’s times like this when my propensity for turning things over multiple times in my mind actually propels me forward, instead of hindering my progress as it sometimes can. The experience of finding this song bird, and being able only to administer the simplest first aid while scrambling to find someone capable of doing more, has led me to take steps toward achieving something I’ve been wanting to do for several years but could not make time to commit to. There never seem to be enough wildlife rehabilitators to go around (I’ve seen this in the last three states where I have lived), so I am going to be the change I want to see in the world.
I am currently studying to take my New York State licensed wildlife rehabilitator’s exam. After apprenticing for a year, I will be eligible to apply for a federal license that will permit me to rehabilitate and transport migratory birds. There is a lot to learn, much work to be done, inspections to muster for, costs to be incurred (wildlife rehabilitators are not paid by government agencies), some reality to face, and hopefully some success stories to share.
I’ve said it before: life is serendipitous, and I am grateful to everyone – human and otherwise – who joins the ride with me. Thank you for coming along!