I wasn’t sure what to expect going into my new adventure at Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society as an intern for eight weeks. I wanted to learn as much as possible about avian ecology, biology and the correct procedures on handling, managing and overall care for injured birds and wildlife. Over the past two months, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great individuals, whom have shared a lot of knowledge on many different subjects, regarding the care and rehab of injured birds. The information I have obtained is priceless, and will forever be instilled in me for whichever path I choose in life.

From the smallest of tasks to the largest, I’ve learned that to run such an extensive society successfully you need help from lots of highly motivated and dependable individuals. From the physical work around the shops and property, the paperwork and record keeping, and the never ending cycle of new patients arriving each day, there is always a task at hand and something to be completed. I’m also very grateful for the information I’ve acquired in regards to rehabilitation, more specifically, the correct ways to deal with an injured bird that is stressed and in need of assistance. Learning about correct restraints, physical examination and assessment, and judging what steps are to be taken with each individual case was very rewarding. Realizing the depth of each admission was another misconception that I had before my arrival to MARS. To actually deal hands on with a patient from start to finish and see everything along the way really helps put the whole picture together. It isn’t just rest and relaxation until release, its often times a serious battle that requires administering medicines, cleaning wounds, wrapping damaged wings, and making sure the correct dosage of treatment and even food is given.

I’ve handled many different species that, otherwise, I would not have been able to handle, such as seals, Bald Eagles, Barred Owls, Great Blue Herons and our ‘rare’ Marbled Murrelet, to name a few. Getting to tube feed some of them was also an incredible experience that really brought home the fact that some of these animals need extra care to survive. Animal rehabilitation is tough mentally, knowing when an animal cannot be rehabilitated or is suffering too much, is just as important as rearing a patient back to health. Humanely euthanizing severely injured patients is a task that happens fairly regular, and learning the methods and steps to accurately achieve this was very important. Releasing healthy birds and rehabilitating injuries is a great feeling, but knowing that the severely injured patients are no longer suffering is also reassuring.

I have also had the chance to complete a vet shadowing at Sunrise Veterinary Clinic and join MARS at fundraising events such as the Courtenay Fall Fair and Kitty Coleman Artisans Festival. It was great getting the chance to talk to the public one on one about their involvement in our society, whether it through donating time or money, or rescuing patients. It seems as though MARS is a well known and respected group on Vancouver Island, and I am very pleased to have been able to work alongside of them.

The skills that I’ve learnt from this internship will forever be with me and will transfer into all that I do. I would like to thank the many volunteers and staff that have helped me in gaining useful knowledge and skills that I hope to use again in wildlife rehabilitation, and most importantly Maj, for allowing me the opportunity to join the MARS team and learn from this experience.