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Rescuing wild things

BIRD IN THE HAND: Some of the birds Merilee Prior has rescued include, clockwise from above, a full-grown Pygmy Owl, a Savannah Sparrow being fed with a dropper, a month-old Hooded Merganser in Merilee’s bathtub, a Bald Eagle, and a fledgling Pacific Slope Flycatcher. photos by Merilee Prior


baby song bird must be fed every 15 minutes from sunup to sundown, says Merilee Prior of the newly formed Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society (PROWLS). “At one point last summer I had 17 babies that needed feeding every 15 minutes. My timer was going off to begin the next feeding before I even finished the rounds I was working on.” Known as the bird lady for her work rescuing injured birds and raptors, Merilee has spent most of the last 11 years since moving here to retire, rescuing injured and orphaned birds. As news of what she does spreads, so does the number of rescue calls. Last year, she rescued 181 birds, up 50 per cent from the previous year. “The number of birds I rescue goes up every year,”

said Merilee. In February of this year, the Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society (PROWLS) received its non-profit status and officially launched. When Merilee moved to Powell River she had two budgies. She took them to Dr. Brian Barnes at Westview Veterinary Hospital and he asked her if she’d be willing to take on any wild birds brought to him that did not need medical care but were not ready to be released. She said yes. “I thought I could manage the odd sparrow now and then,” she laughed. She soon realized she was out of her depth so she volunteered for Mountainaire Avian Rescue in Courtenay to learn more. She also connected with OWL in Delta and Wild ARC in Metchosin, a group that coached her through

long distance phone calls. “They take birds I can’t care for here,” she explained. “I have no room for eagles or trumpeter swans in Townsite.” Merilee says the number of orphaned birds has grown by 50 per cent each year. “I think its because people know that now there is somewhere to take the birds instead of just leaving them to die or trying to care for them themselves.” Westview Veterinary Clinic provides all wild bird vet services free of charge

and medication and helps with supplies. PR Orphaned Wildlife Society recently launched a membership drive and is looking for donations, volunteers and grant money. Volunteers are needed to help with everything from building and mending cages, sewing curtains to provide privacy for wild birds and writing grant applications. If you would like to volunteer, call 604 483-9787 or visit their page at powellriverorphanedwildlifesociety.

POWELL RIVER LIVING • april 2016 •


Powell River Living April 2016  

Powell River Living's April edition looks at the implementation of the Tla'amin Treaty and totem pole carving. There's also a feature about...

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