Like most people who end up caring for wildlife (including birds), Michelle Rafffin never set out to become a wild bird/exotic bird/wildlife rehabilitator. She just grew to love birds.
I had the pleasure of listening to her on Diane Rehm’s podcast today about Raffin’s new book, called The Birds of Pandemonium: Life among the Exotic and Endangered. If you’re interested in wildlife conservation or bird conservation in any way, you should check this out.
The few rehabilitators I have read or listened to never intended to get into the “business” (which is not really a business but rather a labor of love) of wildlife rehabilitation, and Raffin is no exception. When she started caring for birds, she learned the hard way: through failure. She explains – on the podcast and in her book – how bird care (especially wild bird care) is complex and hard because there’s really not that much written about it. For example, she learned the hard way that the mating habits of certain exotic wild birds are controlled by humidity levels. That hadn’t occurred to her.
Right now Raffin is focusing on six exotic species which are at a high risk of extinction in their home countries. These birds now function as a reservoir of potential birds that could be returned to the wild in their home countries when the numbers start to run drastically low. It’s sad that the world has come to this; it would be even sadder if there weren’t some people, like Michele Raffin, trying to reverse it.