Cynthia Daily cradles an injured red-tailed hawk, one of the patients at Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue. Birds from across the North Olympic Peninsula receive care at Daily’s avian hospital in Port Townsend. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Cynthia Daily cradles an injured red-tailed hawk, one of the patients at Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue. Birds from across the North Olympic Peninsula receive care at Daily’s avian hospital in Port Townsend. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Winter weather hits birds

Rescue center answers calls to help injured animals

PORT TOWNSEND — Chirps, clicks and a miniature screech came from the thumb-sized bird, one of many brought in after having a near-death experience.

“He was a victim of the cold; he got frozen to a feeder,” wildlife rehabilitator Cynthia Daily said, introducing one of her patients: a male Anna’s hummingbird from Sequim.

The bird, weighing about as much as two pennies, arrived at Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue after the Christmas cold snap. And while the December temperatures were unusual, Daily’s trip was not.

In her 13th year operating her facility on the outskirts of Port Townsend, she travels across the North Olympic Peninsula, picking up injured and distressed hummingbirds, hawks, shorebirds — any member of the avian family needing help.

“I’d say I was getting five to 10 calls a day for a week,” following the snowstorm on Dec. 25, she said.

Of those, eight calls were about hummingbirds hurt in what Daily called the deep freeze. The iridescent-green creatures go into torpor as their body temperature decreases. People sometimes bring them indoors and don’t put them in an enclosure of any kind.

So Daily got phone calls not only about lethargic hummingbirds, but also about birds that had warmed up enough to start flying all over the house.

Then there was the American wigeon frozen in the snow near Oak Bay. A woman called to say her dog had found the duck; she thought it was dead. But after she brought it in and it enjoyed the warmth from the fireplace, “it came back to life,” Daily said.

She then took the bird in to her facility to give it time to recover, and shortly afterward released it into a wild flock.

Daily’s rehabilitation center saw about 30 birds come in from the cold during the last week of 2021; she has enclosures for about 100 alongside a new surgery and X-ray room. With donations from local supporters and a $10,000 grant from the state Department of Fish & Wildlife, Daily and her all-volunteer crew finished that expansion last fall.

Now they plan another growth spurt.

Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue hasn’t been open to the public, but later this year, Daily hopes to finish building a number of 32-foot flight enclosures, called mews, onto her barn — and inviting people to come see.

Several of the hawks and owls who, because of their past injuries, could not be returned to the wild, are permanent residents of Daily’s facility. They are winged ambassadors who, over the years, have gone out with volunteers to community events.

This summer, Daily said, the mews could be finished and her facility turned into a place to have “bird experiences,” as she puts it. She envisions outdoor, family-friendly interactions.

Information about the “Build-a-mew” project can be found on the facility’s website, www.discoverybaywildbirdrescue.com, along with details about “adopting” birds in care. Daily’s crew also posts videos there of birds, including a great blue heron and a juvenile bald eagle, being released back to the wild.

Daily, meantime, takes “I’ve found an injured bird” phone calls at all hours: 360-379-0802 is the rescue and information number.

This operation has flourished thanks to local people who have supported it with donations of money and time, Daily emphasized. At her on-site surgery room, veterinarians Virginia Johnson and Joyce Murphy volunteer to care for the birds who come in with serious injuries — such as gunshots or broken bones.

On a recent day, the Anna’s hummingbird was full of vigor, wings thrumming inside his enclosure, red throat feathers glinting.

“He’s ready to go,” Daily said.

She considered opening the door to release him into the morning air. Then she decided to let him rest — after the excitement of bringing the cage outside for photos — and take him back to Sequim for release.

________

Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

An Anna’s hummingbird from the Sequim area, having convalesced at Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue facility in Port Townsend, is ready for release. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

An Anna’s hummingbird from the Sequim area, having convalesced at Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue facility in Port Townsend, is ready for release. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

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