Before my rehab externship at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, I had no experience with birds of prey. Consequently, I was apprehensive and nervous around them for my first few weeks! The first time I walked into Buttercup’s enclosure (Buttercup is a Black Vulture and one of WCV’s education ambassadors) the extern who was training me said, “Be careful, he usually tries to attack you when you walk out.” He was politely sitting on his perch but when I turned to leave his enclosure after delivering his dinner, he started chasing me.
Wildlife Center of Virginia Blog
1. “Jaz hates me.”
One of the highlights of my rehab externship was participating in the two fawn round-ups. The Wildlife Center of Virginia is one of the few facilities in the state that will rehabilitate white-tailed deer fawns. There are two separate deer yards at the Wildlife Center; each yard holds about 15 fawns. By the time I arrived at the Center for my externship, the fawns were no longer being hand-fed but were being bottle-fed formula in racks located within their enclosure.
Ever since I was a young girl, I have always been passionate about working and engaging with various animals through hands-on interaction. While attending the University of Rhode Island (URI), I gained multiple opportunities that broadened my horizons as a conservation and wildlife student. I spent time capturing woodcocks in mist nests, banding various songbirds at the local banding station, assisting at a deer check station, interning with the herpetology department as a research apprentice, and building covering pens on the New England cottontail project.
Coming to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, I had a strong passion for the environment and a love for marine life. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and learn more about the animals I’m surrounded by every day and how they may need my help. I had a lot of experience in education but hardly any in animal care, so I knew I was in for a treat.
I came to the Wildlife Center of Virginia with one clear goal in mind: to figure out if wildlife rehabilitation is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have never had a definitive idea of I wanted to do as a career … even after switching majors four times in college and graduating with a B.S. in biology, I’m still not sure what path to follow.
Throughout my three months at the Wildlife Center of Virginia in the summer of 2016, I noticed that the sounds of ICU changed with the seasons. During my first few weeks, the sound of cheeping, hungry, and impatient baby birds created its own odd harmony. When I left the Center in mid-September, the squirrels chattered away to each other in a not-so-melodic fashion. However, some patients sound tremendously different than the cacophony of background noise that typically fills the room.
Time sure does fly. Three months ago, I moved into the student house and started my first day at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Today, my wildlife rehabilitation externship has come to an end. As I pack up my bags and say my goodbyes, I reflect on the rewarding and challenging experience this was. Allow me to delve into some of the highlights.
Here are some things that ran through my mind before, during, and after my rehabilitation externship at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.
For me, there are a couple of truly special things that will have me remembering 2016 in a positive way.