Bird Sanctuary. A Hospital, Rehab Facility and Last Resort Home for Injured Birds.

One day last week I was driving south along the beach and decided to make a stop at a bird sanctuary. A Ranger at our park, who is also a bird rescuer, had told me about this bird hospital/rehabilitation center and “last resort” home for injured birds. She had recently taken a Barn Owl fledgling there from our park to be nursed back to health and rehabilitated until it could manage in the wild on its own.

Gulf beach at Indian Rocks, Florida

This sanctuary sits right on the beach in a beautiful setting with lots of tall trees and tropical plants.

a bird sanctuary

I was surprised to see many healthy birds also hanging around on the beach and in the gardens on the sanctuary grounds. I saw Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Black Skimmers, Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, Brown Pelicans, and Black Vultures. Maybe they had friends or family living in this home, or maybe they just felt safe there with other birds.

a black skimmer on the beach, Indian Rocks , FloridaBlue Heron on the beach a brown pelican Floridasnowy egret Floridaa black-crowned night heron Floridaan old american black vulture Florida

The sanctuary has a bird hospital, a building where the injured “patients” brought here for care and rehabilitation are housed. Most of those birds would heal, be rehabilitated and then released back to the wild.  And therefore should not get too accustomed to people – no visits allowed. The birds are brought here with many kinds of injuries, most common being injuries to the wings, legs, bill or eyes. Many caused by close contact with human operated machines, such as boat propellers. If their injuries are so bad that they will not be able to manage in the wild although otherwise healed, they have a home here for life. Like these White Pelicans.

an injured white pelican two injured white pelicans play with a stick two white pelicans play in the pool Many of them seemed to be quite happy and playful despite their permanent injuries. Some were playing with sticks, others were swimming, and yet others were incubating eggs.

brown pelican mom sits on the eggs

The babies born here will be released back into the wild when they are ready to leave their parents, and have been trained to manage independently.

But I have to tell you the story of two Blue Jays. They share a little apartment here, just the two of them. They have no external injuries. But they had been raised by humans as pets, and then just left on their own – to die. They are now adults, but have no idea how to live in the wild. One of them (below) would meow like a cat.  I’m not kidding.

blue jay raised by humans and abandoned

They have been trained, but it’s clear they will never be able to live in the wild. They don’t know how to get food. They have also left the sanctuary twice by themselves, but returned “home” both times. I don’t want to put in print what I think of people who take wild baby birds as pets, and then just abandon them.

The majority of the permanent residents are seabirds: pelicans, gulls and different kinds of herons and egrets, but there are also a few owls and hawks. This beautiful Great Horned Owl has a wing injury and is no longer able to fly.

an injured great-horned owl

I’m happy there’s a place where injured birds from a quite wide area are taken care of, and that most of them are actually rehabilitated back into life in the wild.

Thanks for coming along and have a great day.

49 thoughts on “Bird Sanctuary. A Hospital, Rehab Facility and Last Resort Home for Injured Birds.”

  1. Having just started taking pics of birds myself, I can really appreciate what fine photos you’ve taken. I’m so impressed! Thanks for sharing the pics and the story. 🙂

  2. hopefully there is a very special place for the people who took the BlueJays and then left them to die… so sad…
    your photos are once again like walking with you as you tell the story 🙂
    I rescued two parrots, Zoro who knows every Sci Fi sound and many words, ( he watches NCIS, and Fox News on TV 🙂 and listens to country music…he feeds my dogs I have rescued over the years his food, he loves to share with them, when one of them passed away ( Tank, his best friend he used to ride on his back ) he was so quiet for over two weeks….he’s slowly jabbering again….
    Missy was injured when she was a gift for a four yr olde brat, who thought it was funny to pull her leg off.. She only liked women after that, she passed away a couple years ago…
    today I took pictures of the cardinals in the nest in my rose bush, their parents sit with me on the porch LOLS…

    okay I am rambling, your post has made my day …Thank you for sharing your world, I enjoyed wandering with you 🙂
    Take Care…You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

    1. Thank you for sharing about your birds, Maryrose! Happy you rescued them. I can only imagine Zoro 🙂 I hope he’ll be happy soon again. Unfortunately there are people who are not able to relate to nature, they feel separate from it…what a loss for them. Thank you for coming along 🙂

      1. You’re very welcome,
        I was showing my mom your incredible photographs, she enjoyed them very much
        so an extra Thank you from her 🙂
        what a sad life for the ones who are separated from Nature…I cannot imagine being that way…
        Take Care…You Matter…
        )0(
        maryrose

  3. Love it, Tiny!! So happy to go along with you…great photos great stories….except the babies who were abandoned…it’s nice they have a home now 🙂 We have a sanctuary for sea turtles who get hit by boats, tangled in fishing lines, or hatchling that don’t make it to the ocean. It is a super place and they always try to rehabilitate and send them back to the sea. Wonderful places with people who care about all life! ♡

    1. It is indeed wonderful that we have these organizations and compassionate staff/volunteers taking care of “all life”, as you say, when they need a helping hand. I was so happy to see that the birds who could not be released back to the wild were not apathetic, but instead quite active and playful. ❤ and best wishes!

  4. I’m glad you wrote this post about the sanctuary.I visited a similar one in Florida for raptors, but I wish somebody was available to explain to us about the raptors that were kept there.

    1. I was lucky to have a volunteer explain the stories of many of the “permanent residents”. I might go back there when all the pelican babies have hatched…one had hatched already, but was so far away and surrounded by mom, dad and other well wishers, that I didn’t get a good picture.

  5. Wonderful post Tiny, it is such a blessing that sanctuary for injured birds and wildlife are available. Your photos are again of most excellent quality, thanks for showing me more birds I have never seen, it is greatly appreciated. 🙂

    1. Here is Florida we have many kinds of sanctuaries for wildlife. The closest to my home (2 miles) is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which is actually not an aquarium at all, but a marine life rehab center for dolphins, sea turtles, otters etc. Have you seen the two Dolphin Tale movies filmed right here? I love to see Australian birds I’ve never seen here on your blog too 🙂

      1. Florida would certainly be the place i would visit in the US if I came there! What you have shown me so far is wonderful, I love your passion for your natural heritage and the conservation of it. So wonderful to live so close to such great wildlife. Thanks again Tiny!

    1. Yes it is. When the little Barn Owl was found in our park, it was good to know there was a place for him until he could live on his own, a great safety net.

  6. People that take in anything wild and then get bored with it and leave it to die, well words cannot express what I wish for them. Grrrrr

    I love sanctuaries. It’s so nice to see people take care of wild living creatures then let them go live a life they are supposed to live. I love the pictures as always, my friend.

    1. I was all GRRR too when I heard the story of the Blue Jays. But I’m happy they seemed okay and lively, they really don’t know of anything else than what they have now, a much bigger “apartment” than the cage they were raised in. And I’m happy most birds heal and can go back to their lives. Thanks Jackie!

  7. Glad you had a chance to see some of the permanent residents at play. Animals face so many obstacles from humans, nature, and predators. It’s wonderful to see them survive and thrive..

    1. It was absolutely wonderful to see the two quite badly injured pelicans very playful. They were throwing the stick and catching it. Simple joy of play. But I was also thinking of the obstacles we humans put in the way of these sea birds and other marine life…

    1. This place also has an educational program for children with their “permanent residents”. But I don’t think I can ever see a Blue Jay without thinking of these two who didn’t know they were birds.

    1. It was lovely to see so many birds were given a home. And that even many more birds get the care they need and can go back to their lives. They seem to have a few staff and many volunteers there…must be very satisfying work!

    1. Thanks Sharon! I was happy to find so many birds just chilling in the trees and walking in the garden and on the beach nearby, in addition to seeing the many birds who’d gotten their permanent home here. Hugs to Helsinki too!

  8. „sanctuary“, what a wonderful word for a temple of healthiness. thank you giving food for a thought and a reminder of the wholesomeness, that is the most sacred, precious and fleeting treasure we have. “health is not everything, but without health everything is nothing.” (arthur schopenhauer)

    1. The good thing was that I could see the birds who were no longer able to live in the wild, still quite well adapted to their current life in care of the humans. One of the pelicans for example, was not even able to pick up a fish due to the injury to his bill, but when given a fish directly in his bill, he was able to eat it. And he was otherwise a very playful and active bird. Health is indeed a treasure! Love the quote.

  9. What a great opportunity to hear about the wonderful work they are doing at that Bird Sanctuary. I love stories like this with big heart! Really great photos, too, Tiny!

    1. It is, indeed, heartwarming to see places like that. There was a Red-tailed Hawk rescued as a badly injured juvenile…he was 33 now, the oldest bird in the sanctuary. He alone had provided many opportunities for us humans to see such a wonderful bird up close, including many kids participating in their educational programs.

    1. We have quite many sanctuaries here in the region, including for dolphins and sea turtles. It is wonderful there’s a place where injured wildlife can get the care and rehabilitation they need to return to their lives. And those who can’t, will get a home.

  10. What an absolutely fantastic post, Tiny!! Your photos are all so clear and beautiful. To know that people really do care for the injured birds to the extent that they have this sanctuary, warms my Heart until no tomorrow. Thank you SO much for this informative, gorgeous post, my friend. Love, Amy ❤

    1. Thank you Amy, I’m happy you enjoyed the visit. It is heartwarming to see the good work done by the staff and volunteers here. Their gardens seem to be a safe haven even for some other older birds. Love, Tiny ❤

  11. What a very special place. I’m so glad a place like this sanctuary exists to take care of the injured and maimed. How very sad about the blue jays! They are one of my favorite birds. How could someone raise them as pets and then just let them go to die?? People are just so….. well, never mind. I am continually saddened by mans inability to be good stewards of the earth and nature. Thank you for taking us along on another lovely excursion and giving us a glimpse into the sanctuary!

    1. I was so sad for the lovely blue jays as well. Now when I see one in the wild, my thoughts always go to these two. Luckily they have a nice home now – they don’t know of anything else so they seemed happy. Glad you came along for the tour, Amy.

      1. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me because I have far more compassion for animals than I do people. Probably because people create many of their own difficulties and animals are too often at the mercy (or lack thereof) of mankind.

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