Every place is given its character by certain patterns of events that keep on happening there…The more living patterns there are in a place—a room, a building or a town—the more it comes to life as an entirety, the more it glows, the more it has that self-maintaining fire which is the quality without a name.
~ Christopher Alexander One of my all time favorite places for photographing birds is Bisset Park in Radford, Virginia. There is a paved trail that leads you beside the New River and allows for amazing photo opportunities. The blue you see in the background of this photo is the sky reflected off of the river.
In February I was asked to review a book about a wild bird rehabber. I agreed, and I'm so glad I did. As a bird lover, this book really touched my heart.
Suzie Gilbert's Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings gives a first-hand account of what life is like as a wild bird rehabber - the ups and downs and in-betweens. The stress, the joy, the sadness, and yes the wonderful sense of accomplishment are all woven together throughout the pages. Flyaway takes you on Suzie's journey of setting up a wild bird rehabilitation center in her home located in New York's Hudson Valley.
From the first diminutive house finch to the lovable crows, you experience what it takes to rehab wild birds. Suzie not only rehabs the birds but combines those duties with the rigors of family life. I was enthralled with her children, Mac and Skye, who were Mommy's little helpers throughout, whether it was feeding the nestlings, giving a mallard a little "human interaction" or just being a shoulder for Mom to lean on. At some points "super-human" comes to mind when you realize how much juggling of priorities is required, but juggles she does - all in the name of helping these feathered friends to survive.
The first chapter had me laughing out loud as she describes what she went through to capture an injured black vulture. Each chapter thereafter is filled with happiness and heartache as call after call comes in from those who have wild birds that need help. Suzie's commitment to the birds is evident throughout the book - who else would allow a great blue heron to take over their bathroom?
Flyway is not only entertaining, but also educating. Suzie describes, in easy to understand terms, how the birds were rehabbed and what treatments were used. The text is accompanied by beautiful line drawings that illustrate some of the birds that she cared for.
Great blue herons, baby wood ducks, a peregrine falcon, and many others found their way to her center. From talons falling off, split beaks and seizures, to West Nile Virus and babies without parents, she saw and dealt with it all. Referring to her blue three-ring binder and advice from colleagues both near and far, she discovered how to treat and care for these lovely creatures. Flyaway is a book about sacrifices and great rewards in the pursuit of serving the wild bird community.