Frequently Asked Questions

Common Concerns


Refer to this page for information regarding Finch Eye Disease


West Nile Virus

The disease has been isolated from at least 43 mosquito species. A mosquito is the "vector" that carries the virus between many different animals. Most often, it is the bite of the mosquito which spreads the disease. Birds, like horses or people can become the host of WNV. Mosquitoes feed largely on birds which become their victims. Crows are one of the birds that are known to be sensitive to the virus and more likely to get sick and die. The death of large numbers of birds serves as a helpful marker to alert us to the presence of the virus carrying mosquitoes. The bird studies have been helpful in learning more about the disease. Once WNV is established in a location, sensitive birds that are infected die off and the death rates diminish among birds.

If you discover bird die-off, you should call your county health agent, NOT us, for further instruction. They can advise you if they are currently collecting submissions after they log your report. See the blue pages (government listings) in your phone book. The York area can call PSU Cooperative Extension at 717-840-2375 or report on-line for the dead bird surveillance at Pennsylvania's West Nile Virus Surveillance Program. Dead birds can be disposed of by burial (three feet deep) or by double bagging them for waste collection. Wear gloves or slip a plastic bag over your hand, grasp the body and pull the bag over it. Wash hands with soap and water after any contact with any bird. If you discover a sick bird, rescue it and prepare to transport.

For WNV prevention tips and other information see:


Can you help with my pet bird?

No, permits allow us to work only with wild birds. We are not legally able to give advice on treatment for pets. Those questions should be directed to your veterinarian.


What about pigeons?

If it is a banded bird, you should write down the numbers on the band and call these in to the local pigeon club or check International Federation of Pigeons then click on Lost and Found. If it is not banded, York County residents can call 764-6109 (York SPCA) during daytime working hours and ask for Tammy who will return your call.


Can we tour your facility and see the birds?

Sorry, but no it is illegal. Birds are placed under state and federal protection in appropriate housing according to their condition. When they are well enough they are placed in a sheltered outdoor flight. This private area prevents human contact so they maintain their wildness for ultimate recovery and successful release. Only educational birds with proper permits may be put on public display.


It's not a bird but will you take...?

You must call a mammal rehabber for other wild animals such as mammals (bats, opossums, rabbits, squirrels) before handling due to rabies risk. For the closest mammal rehabilitator please check the Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators website, <a href="http://www.wpawr.com/" class="extlink">Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators</a>


What about hawks, owls, eagles, or vultures?

Birds of prey are cared for by raptor rehabbers. York County residents should call Mitzi and leave a voice mail at 717-757-4420. Or you can call Raven Ridge Wildlife in Lancaster, 717-808-2652


My child will be heartbroken unless we keep it as a pet?

This is a wonderful time to teach your child respect for wildlife and how they can make a difference by caring enough to do the right thing. The bird should not be cuddled or handled in any way. Instead, call us immediately to get the bird in for care. It's life depends on it and the longer you hold it, the greater the stress and the less the chance of survival. Do not use this as show and tell time at the expense of the bird's life. If a family will take proper responsibility, it may be the time to consider adoption of a rescue pet. See your local shelter for wonderful selections.


I saw a hurt bird by the creek. Can you send someone to go get it?

These literally turn out to be "wild goose chases" for us. The bird, after a sighting, is usually no longer there by the time someone attempts to respond. Or, if the leg is injured but it's wings are functioning, it will head for the water or take flight. We do not have the volunteer force to send out for rescues so we depend on "finders" like you who care and are able to safely perform captures to bring the birds in to us. We can advise you on how to make a capture and transport but we cannot do pick-up's. All birds must be brought in to us.


I rescued an injured bird but have limited transportation. Can you come get it or meet me half-way?

While we would like to be able to assist, please remember that we are all volunteers who invest literally thousands of hours every year in caring for the birds. Because we have limited volunteers and must provide constant care, we are unable to leave. Many dedicated folk have walked, ridden bikes or taken public transportation. We depend on concerned people like you to bring them in as a joint rescue operation. We've been told on the phone that if we don't come get the bird, then it will die because of us. Wrong - every one of us can do our part. You have helped by taking the time to bring us the bird, and we will give the dedicated hours and weeks to care for the bird.


Can you identify this bird in my yard that I have never seen before?

You will want to call a local birding club such as the Audubon or do an internet search for identifying wild birds. Please do not call us.


I found a dead bird in my yard, do you want it?

Calls about live birds only, please. You may dispose of it by wearing gloves and double bagging for waste disposal. If you have a large number of deaths at the same time, you many want to ask if a neighbor had recent lawn treatment using pesticides or insecticides.


I call your number but I just get the answering machine...

As of March 1, 2015 we are limited to taking only herons/egrets/bitterns and we will return phone calls related to those birds..


Can I raise the bird myself and then release it? She's so cute!

Remember, it is against the law and for good reason. Many birds are kept because they are so cute and seem to be doing "okay." Two or three days later, that undetected fracture that could have been repaired by us may be damaged beyond repair. That antibiotic ointment used to "clean" the "little cut" has now greased up the feathers and the bird is hypothermic. The hydrogen pyroxide you used to "clean" the wound is tissue toxic. That infection we could have treated with proper meds spread and the bird is now dying. That chick which was perfectly healthy now has metabolic bone disorder or aspiration pneumonia and is dying. Time is of the essence. Many birds needlessly suffer and are brought in to us days later at the point of death, from preventable causes.

When rehabilitators take in birds, they must carefully determine condition, species, age and many other factors to determine the course of treatment and dietary needs specific to that species. Many people unwittingly raise birds on "emergency" diets that are inadequate for their survival in the wild. While they may appear to be "normal" to the untrained eye, they may suffer severe dietary deficiencies. Many birds are emaciated when found. Feeding them results in a cruel death because other medical concerns should have been addressed first.


Can I call back to see how the bird is doing?

With the volume of incoming calls and new arrivals, as much as we like to we simply do not have a spare moment to call back. Because we appreciate your concern we want you to know the outcome of your rescue through two means. First, those who leave an e-mail address on the admission form will be notified of final outcome/release. This may take several weeks so please be patient. We value your comments but will be unable to correspond back in most cases. Second, you may copy and paste this link into your browser to view photos that we have posted showing a few releases and some of the patients that were in our care. For the 2010 Bird Refuge Gallery: Bird Refuge Photos and Bird Refuge Photos

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Other tips:


Regarding Instructions

Please follow our instructions exactly as given. We've had too many horror stories result from individuals who tried to "improve" on our instructions.


Regarding Drop-Offs

No drop off's without calling in first to set a time. We hope that you will be able to bring in the bird immediately once we return your call but we understand that there are times that will be impossible. We want to ensure that someone is on the site at the time of your arrival so that the bird can be safely admitted. If it should die before your departure, please leave us a voice mail to let us know you will not be coming. (Your call to cancel may provide us the brief amount of time we need to accomplish some of the normal household errands of life that we can't seem to get to at this time of year with so many callers and birds in care!)


Regarding Arrival

Please be prompt with your arrival time. Coming too early or too late can really offset our care rounds and throw us behind schedule. We regularly have people come 2 to 3 hours late or not show at all. Please be courteous and respectful of our time so that we can stay on track. (Tardiness and no-shows prevent us from taking care of other needs that we have.) If you develop a problem, please leave a voice mail.


Regarding Conversations

Please understand that the admission time must be very brief so we can keep operations running on schedule. While we would like to spend time swapping stories, we cannot do so. We must admit and treat your new arrival and keep up with the rest of the admissions and callers. It is not uncommon to have 3 or 4 individuals arrive at the same time as we try to answer the phone lines and keep up with the feeding rounds during our peak season.


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