Many of you have a soft spot for animals and birds. This is evident when I reflect upon the many telephone calls I have received from you all over the 12 years I’ve written this column.
There was the telephone call I received from a panicky person (sorry, I forget your name) who had been repointing a chimney, only to return to his job site to find a stunned, obviously injured American sparrow hawk flapping around in the fireplace. Whoever you were, you popped it into a large box, and called me in the hopes I’d know what to do. I did: I telephoned Kathy Nehei. Unfortunately, this bird died from shock. But other birds you’ve called me about have survived, just like Lucky the Quyon loon.
Kathy started the Wild Bird Care Centre years ago: it was nothing but a wishful dream until she got down to work and made it all happen.
Today, according to its website at www.wildbirdcarecentre.org, the centre receives over 25,000 calls a year! This is from folks like you who find a bird in distress and want to know what to do with it, through to people who enquire what to feed birds in winter.
The number of calls also reflects our interest in the welfare of other living creatures.
For those of you who want to go the “extra mile” and support the centre, on June 18 they are holding their annual auction. Called “Feather in Your Cap” it starts at 6:00 pm, with viewing of items to be auctioned from 4:00-6:00 p.m.
While reviewing the auction flyer that arrived by mail last week, it was no surprise to discover that Pontiac resident Jo-Ellen Cushing has offered one night’s accommodation for two (dinner and breakfast included) at her lodge, Cushing Nature Retreat, in Ladysmith. Jo-Ellen is a raptor (bird of prey) specialist of some renown who opened the Cushing Mews raptor centre in 1994. The lucky winner of her donation will also be introduced to her Harris hawk.
Other auction prizes include a one-hour visit with a peregrine falcon, offered to a school, class, senior’s home, Girl Guide’s pack… or equivalent group; a “Pre-Season” Senator’s Hockey Package that includes two Club seats, return sedan limo service for two, plus dinner for two at the Air Canada Club Restaurant (donated by Moonlight Limousine of Kanata); and Carpenters (2) for a Day for your special home project (donated by Dave Corbin, VP Colautti Northern Developments). In other words, there is something for everyone at this auction.
Spring and early summer is nesting time for the birds, and so the centre is its busiest now. It always needs support and they particularly require food for the birds, which includes: eggs, grapes, beef hearts, earthworms, baby strained corn, earwigs, freeze-dried insects, mixed baby pablum, and strained chicken flavour baby-food.
If you want to rush out and collect earwigs, I’ll be surprised (!) but some of the other gifts are easy to get. Failing that, send them a cheque or money order payable to: The Wild Bird Care Centre and mail it to 73 Majestic Drive, Ottawa, ON, K2G 1C9. In addition, memberships are available, from $25 for single membership, up to a patron for $1,000.
Want to go to the auction? It’s held Monday June 18, viewing 2-6; Auction starts at 6:00. Address: 274 Jamie Avenue (off Merivale Road, south of Hunt Club Road). Want to go but cannot make it? Make a pre-auction bid by calling the centre at (613) 828-2849. Want to make a donation? Call the same number. All donations are listed on the website and can be reviewed there.
You can visit the centre at 734 Moodie Drive, Ottawa, ON K2H 7V2. E-mail is email@example.com
On another and similar note, another animal welfare organization needs our support. That’s the West Québec SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). If you read the Ottawa Citizen regularly, you may have been as concerned as me on Friday 25 May, to read a desperate sounding article on how the shelter is in financial distress.
Who says people are cynical?
The outpouring of support that came to the shelter as a direct result of this article was “staggering” according to spokesperson Louise Hindle. By Saturday 26 May, the community responded by offering much needed cat and dog food, and a direct marketing company called them to donate their services. And on Saturday that newspaper published a follow-up article, a good-news story paying tribute to the generous people in our Ottawa Valley community who so willingly responded.
But make no mistake: our West Quebec SPCA needs our continued support. Five of the six mixed boxer puppies which were discovered in a box by the side of the road near the shelter were adopted by late Friday afternoon. But this optimistic note was tempered by the discovery of another box of eight lab-shepherd cross puppies, left on the SPCA’s doorstep overnight. - Stories like these make us all realize why the SPCA advises all pet owners to spay their animals.
And if you have time to give, remember that volunteers are always needed to help walk dogs. Do you drive through Aylmer for work? If so, can you possibly commit to stopping by at a pre-arranged day and time so you can walk a dog? Think about it: you combine personal exercise with the love of an animal plus the knowledge you’re helping a worthwhile community service.
As for fundraising, the SPCA is holding a garage sale Saturday June 16 at 1:00 p.m. Location: 659 Auguste Mondoux Street in Aylmer (in the industrial park just off Pink Road). If you want directions, check out their website www.aylmer-hull-spca.qc.ca else call the SPCA at 819-770-7722.
We can make a difference, both you and me. If you cannot attend these events, perhaps you can volunteer to donate something for the Wild Bird Care Centre’s auction, or walk a dog at the SPCA… or donate some food to either organization.
Katharine Fletcher is a writer who has always adopted her pets at the SPCA. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org