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Saving baby birds is a mission of love for Boise volunteers

Every year, more than 3,000 birds get a second chance at the Ruth Melichar Bird Center in Boise.

The bird rescue and rehabilitation center takes in injured birds and nurses them back to health so they can be released back into the wild. Baby birds who end up at the large renovated barn are raised by volunteers who must feed them every 30 minutes, 12 hours a day!

Four brown ragged baby kingbirds sit in a jumble on top of each other on a white towel.
Katie Estes
These baby western kingbirds were rescued and raised at the Ruth Melichar Bird Center in Boise.

Jennifer Rockwell is the Director of the Center. More than 20 years ago, she was headed to the grocery store when she saw an injured bird on the side of the road. She brought it to the Center and signed up as a volunteer. Now she’s the Director and she says it’s not a job, it’s a mission and an honor to help these injured and abandoned birds.

The Center helps all kinds of birds, from western kingbirds to ducks to a pair of helpless baby screech owls who came into the Center filthy and covered in fleas. The Center cleaned them up, fed and raised them, and released them back into the wild when they were old enough.

The Center is part of the Animals in Distress Association which rescues not just birds, but mammals like beavers, squirrels, and raccoons. AIDA survives on donations and with the help of hundreds of volunteers who spend long hours feeding and caring for the animals that come through its doors.

Scenes from the Ruth Melichar Bird Center

Rockwell has one message for anything about to pick up a baby bird in your backyard - Don’t! There’s a very good chance that the bird has parents close by. She says too often well-meaning people rescue birds and animals that don’t need rescuing, which hurts their chances of survival. Check with AIDA before picking up what appears to be an abandoned animal.

If you do rescue an injured bird, don’t feed it and don’t put it in water. Get in touch with the Ruth Melichar Bird Center and volunteers there will help out.

Two light blue-gray birds sit on a tree branch next to purple berries.
Katie Estes
The rescued western kingbirds are all grown up and ready to go back to the wild!

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As Senior Producer of our live daily talk show Idaho Matters, I’m able to indulge my love of storytelling and share all kinds of information (I was probably a Town Crier in a past life!). My career has allowed me to learn something new everyday and to share that knowledge with all my friends on the radio.