A Friend for Wild Birds

The Raptor Trust in Millington, New Jersey, treats an estimated 5,000 injured birds each year. 

The Raptor Trust is a rehabilitation center for wild birds. I recently visited the center, which is located in Millington, New Jersey. While there, I spoke with Shari Stern, the director of education. Her job is to educate the public and visitors about how to save wild birds and help those that are injured.

“We take in injured wild birds in the hopes of healing them, raising them, and releasing them back into the wild,” Stern explained.

A range of birds have been rehabilitated at The Raptor Trust and released back into the wild. They include ducks, geese, finches, owls, and hawks.

All of the injured birds are found by people. “We rely on the public to notice when a bird is in need of assistance,” Stern said, “and then to actually take the steps to begin to provide them with help in calling us to troubleshoot the situation.” 

Anyone of any age can help wild birds. Over the phone, The Raptor Trust can guide you on how to help an injured bird.

“There are many scenarios where birds are found,” Stern said. “A cat has caught a bird, or a bird has flown into a window and, in this case, it’s going to require medical attention. That finder can pick up the bird, put it in a box, and transport it to us.” 


Sasha with Shari Stern, the director of education at The Raptor Trust in New Jersey 


The Raptor Trust helps about 5,000 birds a year. “That can be a sad number,” Stern said. “That’s 5,000 animals that were going about their lives in the wild and wound up in a situation where they needed human intervention, human assistance, to solve a problem.”

But Stern sees a bright side, too, noting that passersby took care of the wounded animals. “That’s 5,000 people who were observant of their surroundings, who were engaged in what was going on around them, who were compassionate enough to take time out of their day to stop and evaluate the situation,” Stern said. 

The Raptor Trust has a three-part mission statement that can be viewed on its website. Stern’s personal mission is to “inspire compassion for wildlife.” She encourages kids to seek out areas where there are birds and keep a list of the kinds they see.

“I like to help bring light to some of these animals’ personal histories,” Stern said. That helps people to start seeing the birds as individuals, rather than simply as “a single representative of a species.”

Each bird has its own values. It can have favorite foods, just like us. Stern wants kids to see and appreciate that individuality. 

Photos courtesy of the author