Wild Bird Fund to open Brooklyn location in Park Slope

Wild Bird Fund will take over the space at 183 Seventh Ave.
Photo by Susan De Vries

In big news for the borough’s wildlife lovers, Wild Bird Fund will open an outpost in Park Slope just two blocks west of Prospect Park.

The new location at 183 Seventh Ave. will be the second for the New York City nonprofit, which rehabilitates sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife, after it first opened its doors on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan in 2012.

“The greatest number of birds come to us from Manhattan, because we’re close,” co-founder and Director Rita McMahon said. “But Brooklyn is right there, right after, so this is to serve the people who love wildlife.”

A huge drawcard for the new location is that it has a backyard that can accommodate outdoor flight cages for recovering birds, McMahon said, something the Manhattan HQ does not have.

According to the Wild Bird Fund’s website, the nonprofit rehabilitates more than 7,500 animals per year from more than 150 species. Those species range from common house sparrows, pigeons and Eastern gray squirrels, to more rare species such as Virginia rails and snowy owls, the site says.

The rehabilitation work, which includes x-rays, diagnostic testing, surgery, medication, physical therapy, and much more, is done by a staff of around 30 that is supported by many volunteers. The work is funded by donations. To help get the new location off the ground and build out the space, which McMahon expects to take about six months, Wild Bird Fund will be launching a capital campaign in mid-February.

Despite not opening on Columbus Avenue until 2012, Wild Bird Fund dates back to 1997 and an injured Canada goose McMahon found on the side of Interstate 684. McMahon scooped the injured bird from the side of the road and in her effort to find treatment for it, she discovered the city was without a wildlife rehabilitation center.

In turn, McMahon and local rehabilitator Karen Heidgerd, who worked at a nearby vet, launched one out of McMahon’s Upper West Side apartment. Over the past more than 20 years, McMahon has stayed at the helm of the organization as it has continued to grow.

She said the Brooklyn location was chosen not just for its backyard, but also its proximity to Prospect Park and Green-Wood Cemetery. Operations will be much the same as those in Manhattan, and the nonprofit will be in need of local volunteers when the new location opens, McMahon said.

This story first appeared on Brownstoner.