By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“As the human population grows, we are encroaching on bird habitats, and there is no place for them to go,” said Cynthia Daily, who is renovating her 5-acre property to accommodate injured birds.
“I want people to know that if they find injured birds, they can bring them here.”
Daily runs the nonprofit Discovery Bay Raptor Rehabilitation and Education center — with the help of volunteers and husband, Port Townsend Police Chief Conner Daily — out of their home south of Port Townsend.
She asked that the address not be published as it is in a private home and is not open to public. Instead, those who need to reach her can phone 360-379-0802 so she can provide directions, she said.
The organization's name is a bit of a misnomer since Cynthia Daily helps not only raptors but also injured songbirds and aquatic birds.
She began working with bird rescue and rehabilitation in New Mexico and has been involved in those areas along with education since moving to Port Townsend in 1994.
At that time, she worked more in the educational aspect and left the treatment and rehabilitation to Dr. Tony Rogstad, who died in 2010.
Rogstad's death left a void that Daily is now attempting to fill.
“It's time for us to grow,” she said.
“The number of birds in need of help is increasing, and it's time for me to get more involved, get some publicity and some more donations so we can provide better service.”
In 2011, Daily helped 22 birds. In 2012, that number grew to 50.
So far this year, she has worked with 40 birds. She said she wants to expand the facility “so I can help any bird that needs it.”
She now works with three local veterinarians — Drs. Abby Doll, Jeff Highbarger and Chris Franks — who donate their time and skills to treat injured birds.
Daily said she also works with the Northwest Raptor & Wildlife Center in Sequim, which also is involved in treatment, rehabilitation and education, and which can be reached at 360-681-2283.
Daily recently received money for expansion construction from a $3,500 grant from the state Fish and Wildlife Department.
Daily and volunteers are converting the rear of a large garage into a hospital facility and plan to build three 35-foot-long “flying cages” to accommodate larger injured birds.
These cages will be built on the back of her property and will be moveable should she expand to a larger facility in another location.
“I am really excited about the changes here,” Daily said.
“It's so wonderful that it is all happening at the same time.”
Birds that arrive at the center can stay from days to months before release.
Those that cannot be safely released will be recruited into an educational program, where Daily will visit schools to discuss the birds, their habitat and how people should interact with the animals.
For instance, if an owl makes clicking sounds, people need to stay away or risk an attack.
In addition to the grant, other operating expenses come from contributions, but the venture is primarily self-subsidized.
One recent expense was a large freezer to store fish and rodents that are defrosted the night before they are given to the birds as food.
Daily gets the frozen rodents from a supplier, having once tried to breed mice and found it to be too time-consuming.
“I separate the brown and the white mice, and give the white ones to the birds that will be used for education,” Daily said.
“Birds are not going to see white mice in the wild.”
Daily said most baby birds do not need to be rescued and if found should be put back in the nest.
The widely held belief that mother birds will reject a nestling that has been handled by humans is incorrect, she said.
If a bird is injured or disabled, Daily suggests approaching it with a towel to be quickly placed over its head before it is transported or rescued.
Daily covers the birds' heads when they are taken out of the cage since birds don't fear what they cannot see.
“They are under a lot of stress when they are injured, and I want to do anything I can to reduce that stress,” she said.
There are many ways to help, beginning with a financial contribution, Daily said, but as she operates out of her home and must be licensed for bird rehabilitation, she isn't looking for people to come down to the facility and volunteer.
“We've had people come down here and want to see the birds, thinking that it was a zoo, but we are not allowed to let them in and have any contact with the birds,” she said.
Some volunteers may be used in the educational program, but she said she would rather receive contributions of pet supplies, towels or other materials instead of offers to contribute time.
Anyone coming into contact with an injured bird should phone Daily at 360-379-0802, who will then provide further instructions for care.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.