Interning at Diva Crows songbird rehab has allowed me to build on the information I learned in class as a Conservation Biology major. In my earlier classes, we learned a little about Avian Biology and anatomy, and working with wild birds has increased this knowledge tenfold. I now have a deeper understanding of their digestive tract, bone, and musculature structure.
I have learned how to identify a broken or dislocated wing joint based on the feel and positioning of the wing and how the bird is holding it. I know how to safely give medications and food to birds without them aspirating. Although the life cycle of birds has not specifically been touched on in any of my courses, I’ve learned a lot about the earlier stages. I can tell a nestling bird from a hatchling from a fledgling.
Animal Behavior, a course I took this summer, has helped me better understand the reasoning behind certain behaviors seen in birds. For example, placing a towel or cloth over a bird’s cage or face can help calm it down due to how its nervous system reacts to the change in light. Sensory stimuli such as movement or sound can also cause baby birds to pop their heads up and open their mouths for food. I’ve personally used this to my advantage by opening and closing the incubator door to get a hatchling who isn’t eating to open its mouth. Understanding why or how behaviors are triggered by the nervous system is helpful when working with animals that tend to be very reactive, such as birds.
I believe that my time at Diva Crows will really help with my future jobs and classes.
I’m planning on taking an Ornithology class in the spring and a large part of the curriculum in Biology electives (such as Plant Biology, Ornithology, and Biology of Fishes) is identification and anatomy. After spending hours working with extremely loud juvenile northern flickers and pileated woodpeckers, I can confidently say I can identify their calls without needing any kind of guidebook. I should be set on common Virginia birds!
In terms of my career, I’d like to continue to work in wildlife rehabilitation as an intern and possibly as an employee, so having my supervisor as a reference will be really helpful for that. There’s no doubt that the skills I’ve learned working with wild birds over the past few months will help me out in my future classes and career, and I will definitely be coming back to Diva Crows to help out whenever I’m available.