It isn’t that far away…



What a difference a week makes!!
Last week we had 18 birds and now there are 63 birds at the Bird Center.
31 babies, 4 fledglings, 11 adult/juveniles, and 5 adorable mallard ducklings who came in as eggs!
This is a good time to be at the Center. There are enough birds to keep volunteers and interns busy.  New volunteers are being mentored by some of our experienced volunteers who are teaching them how to feed the birds, clean the baskets, to make the formulas, answer questions, and all the other many tasks.
 The duck eggs were brought to us by a man who had been keeping an eye on the nest, and found that the mother had been killed, probably by a predator.
The ducklings are adorable and have a feather duster as a surrogate Mom. They will be moved to a rehabilitator with better facilities for water birds.
Here’s a way to share your interesting or exciting bird stories or sightings:
send them to me at: and I will do my best
 to include them in the newsletters.
 KEEP CATS INSIDE.  Birds that have been bitten by cats need help immediately. Cat saliva contains bacteria that is usually fatal to birds unless appropriate antibiotics are administered very soon after the injury. Cat predation is a major threat to bird populations, especially those already on the decline due to habitat loss. Please keep your cats inside and tell your friends,  for the safety of both your pets and the birds.
Enjoy this beautiful weather!

Memorial Day Update-

We now have 129 birds and it is very noisy! and much too busy this early in the season. Last week’s incubator babies have graduated to large plastic tubs, and the incubator is overflowing with new babies.  The juveniles are now in mesh covered laundry baskets. Every bird is telling us it needs food RIGHT NOW!
We have fewer volunteers this year, so it is really important for all volunteers to be on time and at the Center for their shifts.
I went to the BC one evening last week, planning to get a bird count and check in with the interns.  But the volunteers had failed to show up, all the baskets needed to be cleaned, but the interns were busy feeding and medicating the birds.  I stayed and changed the baskets, gave them meal worms and fresh water and helped clean up for the night. When volunteers don’t show up, and don’t call, interns have to stay and do all the additional work.  If you cannot keep your shift you MUST call the Bird Center and tell the intern so we can find someone to fill in for you. Volunteers help keep the center running!
If you would like to be on the On Call list, email
Pileated Woodpecker
I have always wanted to see a Pileated Woodpecker, but not under such unfortunate circumstances. It was found on the ground outside someone’s house and had probably flown into a window. It has a suspected head injury and can’t use its legs.
 I was at the Center and held this magnificent bird while its crate was being cleaned. They are the largest woodpeckers in North America, the size of a crow, and their head is crowned with a dashing red crest.  This woodpecker would be busy raising a family if the homeowner had just put decals on their windows.
PLEASE use window decals. This will help prevent birds from flying into windows.
House Finch Conjunctivitis
Penn State College of Agricultural Science (excerpts)
If you notice house finches at your bird feeder with crusty, watery, or infected-looking eyes, you are not alone. A new condition called house finch conjunctivitis, is spreading through the eastern United States. Symptoms of the disease, which mainly affects house finches, include scabby, swollen, runny, cloudy-looking, or glassy eyes, mucous oozing from the nostrils, and an upper respiratory infection. Some sick birds recover, whereas others become blind and die of starvation or fall prey to cats and hawks.
Studies at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology concluded that other songbirds are rarely affected by this disease. Humans and other mammals will not catch House Finch conjunctivitis from contact with sick birds because it is an exclusively avian disease.
Don’t wait until you see a sick bird before you
  • Clean feeders and bird baths on a regular basis with a 10 percent bleach solution.
  • Avoid using moldy seed, and keep the ground area around the feeder as clean as possible. During the summer, rake the area to remove accumulated seeds beneath the feeder. During the winter, shovel fresh snow over the area.
  • Use nonporous plastic, metal, or glass feeders that are easy to clean, and provide ample feeder space to reduce crowding.
  • Keep platform feeders clean and put out only the amount of seed that birds can consume within a day or two.
Finally, don’t wait until sick birds are present to implement these precautions.
Dispose of dead birds by burying them or wrapping them in plastic bags and placing them in the trash. Wear gloves, because even though Mycoplasma gallisepticum is not transmissible to mammals, several other feeder bird diseases are. Wash hands, clothes, and boots after handling birds or dirty feeders. Once you have removed the dead birds, clean and disinfect the feeder and move it to another part of the yard. Sweep up old seeds and droppings and fill the feeder with fresh seeds. These practices will reduce the likelihood that healthy birds will become infected from contact with feces or contaminated seed.

June 7, 2016

We have 130 birds at the Center. Baskets and baskets with fledglings, juveniles and adults cover every inch of the tables, and the incubator has a never ending collection of babies that must be fed every half hour.  When I was at the Center a few days ago, Lena, one of the interns, was feeding some tiny sparrows. It takes patience and skill to measure out just the right amount of food, and carefully put that food into a baby bird beak that’s franticly moving its head and beak.  Do that 25 times, and then again in half an hour.
As I was writing this, I just received this email from our Director, Carol Akerlof:    “The interns are doing the best they can, but volunteers make the difference between care and really good care.  Any encouragement you can give volunteers would be great.  We have babies in the incubator, two white ducks who really appreciate fresh water, and lots of basket birds who would like to have a fruit plate along with their mealworms and seed. “
 The Bird Center could not exist without the Volunteers.   You clean the baskets, give the birds their food and water, sweep the floor, buy the supplies and the food, wash the dishes, and transport birds. Volunteers will often stay on after their shift to finish a job.  Sometimes a volunteer will release a bird back into the wild that has been successfully rehabilitated.  Open the basket, and in one second, it’s out and away towards the trees and that makes all the work worthwhile.
The very first sparrows, raised from babies, are ready to go to a flight cage where they will get to test their wings and show that they can fly before releasing them.
This very devoted pair of domestic Pekin ducks were found abandoned in a parking lot and brought to the Bird Center.  One of them has an injured beak, both have sores on their feet and missing feathers.  As soon as they are healthy, we will find a new home for them. Here, they are enjoying a bath.
 Volunteer Opportunities:
Mayor’s Green Fair
This Friday from 6pm-9pm. We are still in need of volunteers to help out at the Bird Center’s table. Please let Phyllis know if you can help for an hour or two!
Rainbow Feathers Bird Fair
    18th Annual Bird Fair
    Sunday, June 12   10 AM to 4 PM
VFW Post 345
27345 Schoolcraft Rd.
Redford MI 48335
The Rainbow Feathers adopts unwanted DOMESTIC birds and offers them for adoption to a good home.  The prices vary depending on handling and vet costs.
The Bird Center will have a table soliciting donations and potential volunteers.
Linda Whiteaker and Casper (the starling) will be hosting the table.  Any interest in assisting at the table, please contact:
Linda Whiteaker at 248- 520- 6003.  Text messages accepted.

 Any interest in attending the show, just show up, and introduce yourself to us.  I believe there is a small entrance charge for the show.

Please check out the calendar to see if you can help out and fill an open shift! It is much appreciated!

No Escape from Harsh Reality: the plight of domestic ducks and geese
by Karen Benzel,
Public Affairs Director, International Bird Rescue Research Center
Go to any almost any park with a pond and you’ll find abandoned domestic ducks and geese. Most people probably don’t think about how the birds got there or why, and most also don’t know the difference between a wild duck or goose (which has feathers long enough for flight, and muscles designed for quick take-offs) and a domesticated one (which has been breed to be slow and flightless) However, there is a big difference between an animal that is born with all the instincts it needs to live its life independently of humans, and a domesticated animal that depends on humans for food and shelter.
Much like baby rabbits, ducklings, goslings and chicks are also bought on impulse, by people who don’t know anything about how to raise or house them, because they are “cute”. Usually this happens around Easter when pet shops and feed stores sell them as Easter basket stuffers. Some are even dyed, just like Easter eggs, green, blue, lavender or pink. It’s hard to understand what people are thinking when they buy pets on impulse and without educating themselves to the animals needs and requirements. Animal shelters are filled to capacity largely due to ignorance. And so, already stressed from being sent over long distances in the mail, most of these birds will die from lack of warmth, proper nutrition and the stress of being handled by children. With proper care, some will survive, but as their cuteness fades, and as they become big, and “messy,” many will inevitably make the car trip to a pond or lake to “fend for themselves.” A few, very lucky ones, will be raised properly, protected and loved. Although less common as pets, ducks, geese and chickens have individual personalities and character just like many other companion animals.
When domestic ducks and geese are abandoned, their problems quickly compound. There is nothing to keep the domestic ducks, and geese, from mating with wild waterfowl, creating hybrids. This adversely alters the gene pool of wild birds, weakening it. When domestic ducks like pekins mate with mallards, instead of little brown ducklings, you’ll see yellow, brown, black and mixtures of colors. The resulting hybrids are much larger and heavier than mallards. When these males try to mate with wild mallards, they can injure and even drown them.
Canada Geese and mallards tend to tolerate humans more than other species and may even come close and take some bread; but come spring, they will migrate to their summer home. The domestics cannot escape because they can’t fly.  If they run out of food, they simply starve to death, or die of complications from malnutrition due to diets of bread and crackers.
 Ducks are mainly vegetarian but they require some protein. You may see wild ducks and geese in a cornfield or wheat field after harvest; they are eating the raw, unprocessed product, a whole food. Along with grains they are getting grasses, shoots of weeds, worms, snails, and bugs. In the water they tip to graze shallow areas for water plants, consuming small fish when they find them. Birds fly to different areas for different foods, so they have a wide variety of foods, but plants and vegetation comprise most of their diet.
People mean well when they bring big bags of bread and crackers and it is difficult for them to understand that they are killing the birds with their kindness. Bread fills the birds up, swelling in their stomach, but providing no nutritional value. Yet the birds that can’t fly can only go as far as they can walk. Stale bread from an occasional visitor may be their only meal.
Ask your local pet shop to not sell “Easter” bunnies, ducklings and chicks out of respect for the environment, the animals, and all the non-profit organizations and local shelters that will end up having to care for them.
When you see flocks of abandoned geese and ducks, remember they are not living the good life.  If you would like to adopt ducks, geese or both (being flock animals they do not do well alone) contact your local shelter and animal control and tell them to alert you should they ever need to place birds.
To learn more about pet ducks and domestics visit
*I have copied parts of the article for this newsletter. The much longer and more informative article can be found at
Chimney Swifts returning to roost in the chimney at the Historic Winery Building
 Video cam streams massive swift roost
(Excerpted from USA Today)
Larry Schwitters is pushing 74 – and a few days ago he pushed himself to climb 151 feet up a century-old brick chimney in Farmington.
In the rain. Twice.
He did it for the birds.
More precisely, he did it to continuously spy on a massive chimney swift roost – and so others across the globe can, too. Because thanks to Schwitters and a few others who helped make it happen, a video camera now sits inside the towering chimney of the Historic Winery Building on Grand River Avenue in Farmington, where it’s believed the largest known population of chimney swifts spends the night from spring to late fall.
Building owner Dave White said the swifts started inhabiting the chimney in the 1990s, after the coal-burning furnace was shut down for good. But a few years ago, his wife, Michelle Romans noticed their numbers had grown considerably, and they began to suspect something unusual – and awesome – was happening. Apparently, they were right. She learned about getting a good estimate of how many of the migratory birds were making the chimney their northern hemisphere hangout. A count last fall determined that some 50,000 had found their way to the chimney – those who had been there for the last several months as well as others who joined them on their migration from northern Michigan and Canada back to their winter home in South America’s Amazon basin.  Schwitters, who set up similar video equipment in a Portland, Ore. swift roost about five years ago, said there’s plenty to learn and enjoy by watching the birds.  “They’re here all summer, and it’s possible they aren’t just roosting but nesting, too,” he said. “There was no way to know. “Until now.
“I’ve been watching them for more than 15 years, and always thought that they were really cool birds. Now you’ll be able to look in your computer to watch them, which will be nice,” said White, who established the “Swift Sanctuary” in 2013 to spread awareness and preserve the roost.
On a late afternoon a few weeks ago, Gabby Costello and I took binoculars and folding chairs and drove to Farmington to watch the chimney swifts come home for the night.  After spending all day in the air catching insects, 50,000 birds, the largest known population of chimney swifts, return each evening to roost in the 150-foot-tall brick chimney of the Historic Winery building. As the light begins to fade, the first few swifts arrive and circle around the chimney, joined by ever greater numbers of their companions. The tiny acrobats tumble around and around through the darkening sky before diving down into the chimney, and their high noisy chattering fills the air around us.  It is almost dark when the last ones disappear from sight and then it is silent. Time seemed to stop, yet it felt like hours had passed. I looked at my watch and it all happened in less than an hour.
From spring to late fall these swifts make their home in Michigan, and then migrate to South America for the winter.
Google:  Swift Sanctuary Detroit Michigan for information about visiting the swifts as they get ready for bed.
June 23, 2016
There are 120 birds at the Center and 52 birds have been released!
We also have 3 fledgling Baltimore Orioles.
Yesterday afternoon when I walked into the Bird Center, the two incubators were filled with bouncing newborns, and I do mean bouncing.  Any movement from outside their glass window signals that food might be on the way, and several of the tiny birds managed to tumble out of their nests and over to the window, opening their beaks and hollering for dinner. I am in awe of the strength and determination of something less than 1″ long.
Volunteers were cleaning the baskets, giving the birds clean water and mealworms and washing the endless pile of food and water dishes.  THANK YOU!!
Bird Center Intern Lena feeding a hungry baby bird, then feeding 14 more hungry baby birds.  Repeat: every half hour.  Thank you to the interns who patiently feed the little ones.
 Feathered Friends Weekend June 24-26 at many Michigan state parks
The Department of Natural Resources will celebrate the wonders of Michigan’s birds and the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty with a weekend of programming in several of Michigan’s state parks June 24-26.
Michigan’s Feathered Friends Weekend will feature fun, educational programs for the whole family, including bird hikes, bird identification programs and much more.
Visit for more information
A PLEA FOR THE BABY BIRDS from our intern Remy Thomas
I am an intern at the Bird Center and this is a plea to everyone who cares about birds.  Recently we’ve been receiving a lot of calls of “birds who can’t fly, who appear to be injured, who are just hopping around the yard.” these are, most of the time, fledglings. As a baby bird starts to mature it begins hopping around the nest and starts to learn to practice flying. Unfortunately, the baby birds wings aren’t strong enough so this is the part where they end up in your front lawn.
Fledglings are baby birds that have feathers but not all have completely come in, depending on the species of bird the fledgling can be in the stage of hopping around your yard from 2-5 days. THIS IS OKAY. The parents (mother, father, or both) will come down to feed the fledgling every 30-45 minutes while it continues to practice flying.
Today in particular was a hard day at work because we found out a fledgling had been rehabilitated at one neighbors house (where it became extremely malnourished) “released,” only to be picked up by another neighbor who did the same thing and released the all white robin into the wild WHERE THE BABY BIRD HOPPED INTO A POND and passed due to drowning.
There were many issues with this case but the biggest ones were:
1. A family took in the healthy baby bird, fed it by hand, played with it, watched t.v with it, then released it hoping it would know how to be a baby bird when all its known is how to be a pet.
2. Fed it worms (which not all birds eat) and dog food hoping it was nutritious enough for a growing baby bird, which resulted it an all white robin. White coloring in birds is the first indication of poor health and malnutrition.
3. Rehabilitated a baby bird in home without proper knowledge and/or understanding instead of just turning the bird over to a rescuer who is properly equipped and knowledgeable,  an action that resulted in the bird imprinting on the family (When the bird is raised around humans or other animals and no longer understands that it is a bird and doesn’t learn how to be a bird) therefore making it un-releasable.
Fledgling robin


I understand that I am part of a neighborhood full of kind-hearted, strong-willed, animal loving people. I LOVE that about Ann Arbor. I understand how fulfilling it is to take care of an animal that needs your help. But I’ve also seen many fledglings who have come through the facility with stark white wings, no muscle mass on the legs at all which resulted in the bones growing wrong, and birds who don’t know how to be birds end up with people who don’t want a wild bird when they aren’t a cute begging baby anymore.