Sharon Audubon Center

Sharon Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic Loses Food Source

Local community rallies to help feed orphaned, injured, and ill raptors and other wildlife—but critical ongoing support is still needed
Three of the many, many Barred Owls admitted into rehabilitation at the Sharon Audubon Center in 2019. All were hit by cars and and suffered injuries ranging from broken bones to traumatic brain injuries. Photo: Audubon Sharon Center.

By Sunny Kellner, Wildlife Rehabilitation & Outreach Specialist, Sharon Audubon Center

In November 2018, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic at the Sharon Audubon Center received devastating news. After two decades, the supplier who had been generously providing food for our raptor patients and 20 permanent non-releasable residents was no longer able to continue their donation. About three to four times a year, center staff would make a trip to the rodent breeding corporation who provided loads of frozen mice and rats to feed our rehab animals (a gift that equaled well over $50,000 a year). With the loss of this donation, our situation was dire. Our food supplies were running low and we did not have the $40,000+ needed to purchase more.

Feeding prey to our raptors is not a glamorous part of our job, but it is a critical part of their care. With few options available, we put out an emergency call for help on our Sharon Audubon Center Facebook page, asking for donations of uncooked, unseasoned meats from people’s freezers. This is a common practice in many wildlife rehabilitation facilities around the country, as it can be nearly impossible to keep up with rising food costs. The response received was wild! Our post was shared hundreds of times and donations poured in from citizens throughout Connecticut, including donations of wild-harvested meat from hunters and Conservation Officers. We even received several large freezers to hold the incoming donations. Since our freezers would no longer be refilling on a regular basis, we needed to make sure we had lots of freezer space to store more food in advance.

We are truly grateful for the many years we were provided with a free food resource. Now, in our time of need, we are absolutely humbled by the outpouring of support and the donations we received from our community. Thank you to everyone who provided the food, love, and reassurance that lessened our panic and made our new difficulty easier to bear. Our community stepped up when we needed them most and we are truly grateful—and so are the birds! Wildlife rehabilitation is indeed a community effort!

We Still Need Your Help

While our freezers are currently stocked, our campaign for food help doesn’t end here. Although feeding the wonderful variety of donated meats is literally a life-saver to our animals, it is still necessary for us to provide whole prey food items to our raptors, as consuming the fur and bones of a rodent supplies essential nutrients and supports natural metabolic processes. This means that we have to raise an additional $30-40,000 a year to purchase rodents from a distributor.

If you would like to help, please consider purchasing a gift certificate from RodentPro.

  • Please make your gift certificate out to “Audubon Sharon” and include your e-mail in the “message” section, so we can send you a thank you! The names of supporters will also be recognized on a display sign thanking you for your gift certificate.

We can also accept monetary donations directly at our center. Please specify that your wish for your donation to be used to purchase raptor food.

In addition to our 20 Resident Raptors, Audubon Sharon has admitted over 150 birds of prey into rehabilitation in the last two years, on top of the hundreds of other patients. Our patient numbers are ever-rising and we must find a way to raise enough money to pay for food so we don’t have to turn animals away. Very often, if we can’t take them, other rehabilitators can’t either (other rehabilitators are also going through similar situations).

Thank you for your support!

How you can help, right now