Birds find haven from urban injuries at New York City treatment center

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Olivia Snarski was cleaning out the apartment of a friend who died on Tuesday when she found a bird lying against a wall with what appeared to be a broken bone.

Snarski looked for help to save the fading starling, which she called Kash in honor of her friend.

Far from the New York City borough of Queens where she rescued the bird, Snarski found The Wild Bird Fund.

Housed on the ground floor of a building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, not far from Central Park, The Wild Bird Fund has been treating sick and injured birds since 2005.

Most of those birds are brought there by Good Samaritans like Snarski, said Eugene Oda, a wildlife rehabilitator and veterinary technician who examines incoming birds.

Suffering from dehydration and a broken bone, the prognosis was poor for Kash. Oda took a special interest in the bird and brought it to his home to care for it.

“When I heard the story, I knew I had to take Kash home,” Oda said. “I needed to make sure that starling got the best care.”

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Inside the small medical facility, a team of staff and volunteers tends to hundreds of birds every day, providing food, medicine, care and cleaning.

“It’s baby bird season and it’s very, very hard for us. We get over 50 birds a day. People find all these baby birds on the ground,” Oda said.

“Right now, I believe that we have about 350 birds,” said Oda. “We get over 120 different species.”

Rita McMahon, a co-founder and director of The Wild Bird Fund, started the organization in her Upper West Side brownstone in 2005. Funded by donations, it moved to 565 Columbus Avenue in 2012.

It is the only facility of its kind in New York City and the Humane Society, ASPCA and other animal rescue organizations bring birds to the Fund for treatment.

“There is so much danger out there that birds can get into,” said Oda. “It is our responsibility as citizens in the city to rescue these animals. They are basically hurt by us and we’ll do our best.”

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Oda said the Fund’s location means pigeons, sparrows, and starlings are the most common patients. “These are the city birds that often get into trouble,” he said.

The neighborhood is also home to hawks, owls, Robins, doves, ducks, geese, and a host of other types of birds.

During a recent visit, a hen shared space with a white swan named Willow that was found six months ago suffering from frostbite in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Once healthy, creatures like Willow are sent to sanctuaries in the Tri-State area. This weekend, Willow will go to a sanctuary called Zeze in upstate New York. Local birds are released back into the wild once they have been healed.

As for Kash, Oda said, “I think maybe he turned a corner. Hopefully he’ll be released. And if he is, I’m hoping to contact the person who brought in the bird.”

Reporting by Angela Moore in New York; Editing by Melissa Fares and Toni Reinhold