While facilities remain closed to visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic, bird rehabbers at the Wild Bird Center continue to stay busy tending to injured wings and limbs. The Keys Weekly recently spoke with Jordan Budnik, executive director, about ongoing activities at the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary, located at 93600 Overseas Highway, Tavernier and Mission Wild Bird Hospital, located at 92080 Overseas Highway, Tavernier.
The Covid-19 lockdown has been hard on businesses in our community. How is the Bird Center holding up? As a nonprofit organization, we are solely funded by individual and foundational donations. That being said, we feel the same financial pressure that many in our country are under right now. The hospital is still open to receiving patients and we are busy taking care of injured birds. The collisions with windows or cars, swallowed hooks and domestic cat attacks have not stopped. Wildlife still needs us and we still intend to answer that call.
Can people visit the sanctuary yet? Not yet. The sanctuary is still closed to the public. Although it is outside, the boardwalk is narrow and social distancing cannot be guaranteed. Combine that with the local COVID case numbers and we feel it is best to remain closed for now. We are still caring for the approximately 100 non-releasable sanctuary animals behind the scenes. When we do reopen, we will make sure to post on our website, social media and in the Keys Weekly! Our official reopening date is to be determined. Private tours of the sanctuary for school groups can be scheduled upon request. This is limited to groups of 10 and under at a time and masks are mandatory.
Can people still bring sick and injured birds to you? Yes! So many members of the community believe that because we are closed to visitors, our rehabilitation hospital has stopped operating. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Our hospital has been even busier than usual for this time of year. We have measures to keep people safe when they drop off birds at our hospital. People are asked to first call our emergency line at 305-852-4486 ext.1 to give us patient information over the phone so that we can fill out paperwork ahead of time. Individuals dropping off an injured bird wait outside instead of coming inside the hospital, and masks are worn by staff at all times. We can also dispatch staff to go pick up a bird if you cannot come to us.
How are you handling the loss of donations to the sanctuary? Sanctuary donations are a large part of our annual income. We have cut back on spending or pushed back projects that we wanted to accomplish this year. For example, our interns live on-site. That intern house needs improvements but that’s not happening right now. We also have medical cage improvements that are on hold, as are our hopes to secure a new rescue vehicle. We rely more on online fundraising, mailed-in contributions, and foundations that we ever have before.
What can people do to help the Bird Center and other nonprofits? Give in any way that you can. Share social media posts or tell your friends and family about a nonprofit that you love. Donating even something as simple as towels or fresh fruit helps. For those that can give financial support, we encourage you to help your local nonprofits.
The CARES Act has also given every taxpayer the ability to deduct a charitable contribution of up to $300 from their 2020 taxes without itemizing. That kind of contribution could really help your favorite charity right now.
For more information on the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center, visit www.keepthemflying.org.