The assignment I’m given most often when I volunteer at the Wildlife Center is “meals.” That means I spend much of my time in the kitchen chopping fruits and vegetables, weighing out worms, and dishing up meals for possums, squirrels, birds and turtles.
Occasionally I get “reptile room.” Fridays are turtle soak days, so each one gets taken out of its cage and placed in a big plastic tub that is partially filled with water. They also each get a big fat earthworm on soak days, which seems to make them happy.
Once, I was assigned to “pick up and exercise,” which meant I got to go into the flight pens with each of the owls and hawks and retrieve whatever was left over from their previous meal (usually bones and hair.) For the exercise part, they each have a goal number of passes to make. My job was to encourage them to fly back and forth across the pen for the prescribed number of passes, which I did by walking toward them until they flew to the perch on the opposite end of the pen. I thought it was pretty exciting to have owls and hawks flying just a few feet above my head.
Today, for the first time, I got assigned to “aviary.”
There are a lot of baby birds at the center right now that need to be fed every hour. Before I was sent out there, I was given several warnings:
“you’ll probably get pooped on”
“be really careful not to step on any”
“they’ll land all over you”
“if any get out, just scoop them up and toss them back in”
I didn’t get pooped on or step on any, but I had them land on my head, side and arms. I also got pretty good at scooping and tossing baby birds.
It’s a strange feeling to walk into one of the pens and have nearly a dozen very loud baby birds come flying toward you.