Feature | Ruffled Feathers: In Tracy Aviary’s ballot battle for funding, its injured bird rehab program gets the boot 

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Broken bird patrol
nWhen Brown joined the Aviary, bird rehabilitation was a staple. For many years, rehabilitation had been done on-site. Rehabilitation is both a labor of love and a federally sanctioned activity because essentially all native birds are, in fact, federally protected. n

With 5,000 species of birds worldwide, there are some 1,000 species native to North America. Since 1918, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has made it “unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell birds” listed as native to the United States. The idea back then was to stop commercial trade in birds and their feathers, which, according to the law, “had wreaked havoc on the populations of many native bird species.” Eggs and nests are also protected. n

Only a few birds, like prolific starlings and pigeons, are off the list. But even handling the humble and plentiful sparrow requires a permit. n

Brown notes that 5 million to 7 million birds use the Great Salt Lake as a stopover every year. Many of them—like the American white pelican—are actually native to Utah, and their flight paths are exhibited at the aviary. n

Candy Carlson started out as a docent at Hogle Zoo doing education outreach to schools and began working with avian rehab, mostly with birds of prey and songbirds. She moved to the aviary and worked there until the early '90s, when work hours, costs, quarantines and space issues forced the rehab functions off-site. n

The aviary, however, continued to carry the state and federal permits for the rehabbers. After all, it had to field many calls for help from the community. n

The rehabilitation community was admittedly a little loose, with four or five willing rehabbers at the most. In the summer, there was more need, and the aviary would try to pick up interested people and offer classes in rehabilitation. Carlson started teaching classes in her home. It was nothing if not a demanding avocation. n

“It’s 24/7,” Carson says. “When you go through the baby-bird season, you have no life. My phone rings (all day) with people who find a bird and don’t know what to do.” n

Many would-be rehabbers quit once they realized the mess and the dedication required. “Some things can be sad and disheartening, but a few successes are so amazing,” Carlson says. When Vickrey came along, there seemed to be some stability. She started out volunteering at the aviary and then worked in the ticket booth. In the beginning, she rehabbed starlings because they weren’t protected. n

“Tazia was extremely dedicated and committed, and another woman, Kathryn Alf, wanted to do ducklings and waterfowl—for the last half-dozen years it was the three of us doing hundreds and hundreds of birds a year at our expense,” Carlson says. n

They paid for veterinary services, and for food and transportation, although the Aviary often donated mice. Carlson calculates she spent more than $13,000 from her own pocket; Vickrey about $2,000. And then there was the time spent documenting the bird injuries and fatalities, page after page: n

Townsend’s solitaire—neurological head tilt, probable impact—died during night n

Interior Gray crowned Ropsy-finch—fix right humerus, possible coracoid tiny puncture, possible cat—died n

Goldfinch lesser—found not flying in yard, probable coracoid—released n

Magpie—found in garage, possibly brought in by cats—died n

Great horned owl—building strike, head trauma & injury to right eye—delivered to … n

Male mallard—hit by car, left foot and leg hit, left eye closed—released with slight limp n

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