I’m back in Oregon for now, and last weekend I went to the Audubon Society of Portland‘s annual wildlife care center open house, which I also attended in 2014. Since 2014, Hazel the spotted owl passed away, sadly, but most of their other education birds were out to say hello, including my personal favorites, Ruby the turkey vulture and Aristophanes the common raven.
The Wildlife Care Center is the oldest and busiest wildlife rehabilitation facility in Oregon, taking in about 3,000 orphaned or injured native animals a year. The annual open house and auction provide much of their operating funds. If you’d like to bid on some great wildlife-related items and experiences and support their efforts, the 2017 Call of the Wild Auction runs online until March 6.
On Sunday I went to the Audubon Society of Portland‘s Wildlife Care Center open house with my mother and a friend. I volunteered briefly there in high school, and also spent a lot of time on the trails as a kid, but going back after 10 years of living in a prairie/montane environment was a bit surreal. The trees are so big! There are ferns! So much moss! Everything is green and wet!
For the open house, they had all of their education birds out with volunteers, a great opportunity to see all of them and learn their stories. Many education birds end up at organizations either because they were illegally taken from the wild as pets and imprinted on humans or because they were injured permanently, often by cars. However, some, like their Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) Finnegan, were removed from the wild by scientists due to congenital problems that would prevent survival (in his case a deformed foot).
Hazel, a Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina, is a gorgeous bird, but her coloration is due to vitiligo, a progressive loss of feather pigment with each molt. In the wild, it would harm her survival chances, but due to injuries (probably from automobile impact) she is unable to fly.
But my favorite of their birds is probably Aristophanes, a Common Raven (Corvus corax).
They also had volunteers giving behind the scenes tours of the Wildlife Care Center itself, starting with the kitchen…
…where they prepare food for rescued birds and occasionally small mammals and reptiles.
They have a small hospital where they can perform surgery and other medical treatments, with cages for recuperation. Some animals may remain there for other a year, depending on their injuries.
Some patients are literal flight risks:
They also have a (very tiny) lab for running blood tests and examining fecal samples. They’re hoping in the future to build a larger facility.
Most of the enclosures for the education birds are outside. This one is for Aristophanes, the raven.
After the tour, we took a short hike down across Balch Creek…
…and around one of the loop trails, where we saw a lot of Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata), which is actually in the cypress family rather than a true cedar…
…and also a lot of Licorice Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza), a common species that tends to grow on the trunks of deciduous trees.
The feeders outside the window in the nature center are a great place to observe and photograph common local songbirds, such as the Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)…