Working as a Wildlife Care Assistant

Posted February 7, 2022 by Sasha, Wildlife Technician

Although the overall flow of everyday as a Wildlife Care Assistant at Wildlife Rescue is similar, no two days are ever exactly the same or anything even close to boring. Going in you know you will be getting to feed baby birds, clean out their enclosures, perform their daily health checks, and that you will most likely be going home with poop somewhere on your clothes. No day is ever dull because there are always new species coming in to learn about, new medical issues arising, and new problems popping up that need to be solved in ever-changing ways.

Two newly admitted orphaned Anna’s Hummingbirds in their nest

In this role, you get to work with all kinds of altricial baby birds from species as tiny as a hummingbird or chickadee nestlings (that demand to be hand-fed every 15 minutes), to some of the bigger corvid species like Northwestern Crows or Steller’s Jays. The feeling of getting to raise an orphaned bird from being completely dependent on you to be fed and cleaned all the way until it is independent and ready to be released back into the wild is incomparable.

A Black-Capped Chickadee fledgling being syringe fed

I was a Wildlife Care Assistant, Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ), in the baby bird room for the spring and summer of 2021. Before this, I had received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Calgary and worked at wildlife rehabilitation centers in Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Costa Rica, but this wasn’t the case for most of the CSJ’s. Many people who take on this role are current students who have never worked with animals a day in their lives and are looking to gain some hands-on experience before graduation.

Whether you have a long list of experience working with baby birds, or you don’t know a thing about the wildlife rehabilitation process, this is an extremely rewarding position with tons to learn. Everyone at WRA, from the staff to our amazing volunteers, is more than happy to help you learn and lend a hand. The entire property is filled with a team of people who just want to do anything they can to help out wildlife and it makes for a very welcoming and passionate place to work.

A fledgling Varied Thrush (mid moult) getting their daily health check

Every day I went to work was a crash course in bird handling, feeding babies, learning the identification and natural history of species, and so much more. In the beginning, it can be very overwhelming as there are many skills that need to be picked up quickly and every day is a bit of a juggling act to make sure all the patients get everything they need, but once you get into a groove, the days fly by and are extremely rewarding (even with all the cleaning and the poop). Every single day I went in I learned something that made me fall even more in love with birds and I got to go home knowing I got to make a difference in at least one bird’s life, and for me, there is not much more I could ask for.

Raelee Barth
Wildlife Care Assistant 2021

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