Rescued songbirds perch on a branch at New York City’s Wild Bird Fund, the city’s only wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility. On October 2 and 3, the center received a record number of injured birds that had collided with glass while migrating through the city.
When Genevieve Yue brought an injured pigeon to Manhattan’s Wild Bird Fund wildlife rehabilitation center last Saturday, she was surprised to find a line outside.
“A couple ahead of me had a bird in their sweatshirt. Other people had birds in Amazon boxes. Mine was in a take-out bag that I’d grabbed from a restaurant,” she says. One passerby asked if people were waiting in line for an ice cream shop.
Yue had found the injured pigeon lying on the sidewalk in her Lower East Side neighborhood and knew the bird needed help. “I have a particular fondness for pigeons. It breaks my heart when I see people treating them like vermin,” she says. She lined a paper bag with a spare diaper she had packed for her two-year-old, hopped in a Lyft, and headed north to the Wild Bird Fund on the Upper West Side.
It’s a tiny nonprofit operation tasked with serving all of New York City. “It’s kind of like a bird emergency room,” Yue says. “Our little ambulances are basically paper shopping bags and shoeboxes.” Everyone in line bonded over their tiny charges. “We started immediately sharing. ‘Where did your bird come from? Where did you find your bird? Do you want to see my bird?’”
She didn’t know at the time that New York was in the midst of a wave of bird collisions. Between Friday, October 2, and Saturday, October 3, the Wild Bird Fund took in a record 220 injured birds, three-quarters of...