2018 in Wild Bird Rehabilitation

By Lauren Adams

Lead Wildlife Keeper
2018 was a big year at VINS for a lot of reasons.  Here in the Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation, you may not have been able to tell from the outside, but we had a LOT going on inside our little building.  Around the middle of the summer, it felt pretty busy around here.  I decided to check our rehab admissions data from the prior year, just to see where we stood in comparison.  We were well ahead of 2017, so I checked our previous record-high year, 2016.  We were even ahead of that year, by a lot!  And we stayed that way ending the year with 652 total patients, over 100 birds more than the previous VINS record.

This could be attributed to a lot of different factors.  Certainly wild birds face many challenges in the wild that can affect their abilities to survive and increase their likelihood of becoming injured, found, and then brought into a rehab center.  Things such as habitat loss, climate change and environmental pollution can all impact a bird’s ability to successfully hunt, forage, nest, breed, migrate, or perform any of their natural behaviors.  VINS has also made a significant effort to spread the word about our Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation in order to facilitate getting help to the wildlife in need around our region.

It is really difficult to say whether or not this increase is a singular spike, an anomaly year in the grand scheme, or whether it represents a trend.  For now, I’ve put together some statistics and information about our patients in 2018 so that you can have a sense of what the year looked like behind our doors.

Patients seen by CWBR 2000-2018

2018 rehab by the numbers
Total patients = 652
Total species = 88
Total releases = 263
Overall release rate = 40.2%
Overall survival rate = 44.8%
Release rate for birds that survive >24hrs = 68.8%
Raptors only
Total number of raptors in care = 120 (18.4% of total)
16 species (5 owls, 11 diurnal raptors)
39.2% of all raptors were released (adjusted for Transfers, Pending: survival rate = 43.3%)
What was the ultimate fate of birds in our care this year?


Where are all these birds coming from?
Rehab within the 1st 24 hours of care
For birds that survived past the first 24hrs, 68.8% were released
An unfortunate fact:  41.5% of birds do not make it past 24hrs
For all birds that were euthanized, 72% were euthanized in the first 24hrs
For all birds that died, 63% died in the first 24hrs

Top 10 species 2018

Top 10 species made up 48% of total intakes
1. American Robins (82) AMRO
2. Barred Owls (45) BDOW
3. Broad-winged Hawks (32) BWHA
4. Rock Doves (29) RODO
5. European Starlings (25) EUST
6. Mourning Doves (24) MODO
7. House Sparrows (22) HOSP
8. Cedar Waxwings (19) CEWA
9. Blue Jays (19) BLJA
10. American Crows (18) AMCR
Top 5 causes for admission 2018          
1.  Unknown Trauma (236…36%)
2.  Orphaned (77…12%)
3.  Vehicle strike (62…10%)
4.  Fell from nest (58…9%)
5.  Cat bite (55…8%)
Hopefully this gives you a glimpse into the world of wild bird rehab at VINS.  A huge, heartfelt thank you to all of our staff, volunteers, visitors, donors and friends for making 2018 so wonderful.  And of course, to all of the birds! Also, enjoy a sampling of the more adorable of our patients this year:
Barred Owl nestling re-united with its parents. 

Common Grackle nestlings eager to be fed. 

Broad-winged Hawk hatchling

Merlin nestling

Carolina Wren fledgling

Ruffed Grouse adult

Black-capped Chickadee fledgling

American Kestrel nestling

Cedar Waxwing fledgling

Ruby-throated Hummingbird fledgling

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