Hats Off!

We are into our busy, bird-care season and admissions are running significantly ahead of 2019, which was already a record year! Perhaps because people are staying home, they are more apt to notice a Northern Flicker has hit a window and lies injured on the ground or a baby Cardinal has fallen from its nest. Whatever the reason, as I write this note, we are successfully caring for well over 400 birds at the Centre.

How are we coping? As described more fully below, we have brought back a limited number of volunteers and have set up a second kitchen in our classroom to feed the overcapacity crowd. Although it may appear slightly chaotic from the outside, it’s working surprisingly well. A huge “thank you!” and hats off to our extraordinary staff and our amazing volunteers!

Another important thank you is called for: In March, we were forced to cancel our biggest fundraiser and have now reluctantly cancelled our August fundraiser, the Festival of Birds and Nature. Despite the difficult economic times, our donors are stepping up with steadily increasing online donations. Some have even organized local fundraising projects for us! We are not out of the woods yet but this increased giving is helping a lot. Thank you and hats off to our wonderfully generous donors!




Wendy Dollinger, President

Please leave us a message

This spring, we redesigned the Wild Bird Helpline service to better serve you with detailed instructions on how to handle a variety of emergency bird situations. Please take the time to carefully listen to the options and information provided.

If you don’t hear the answers or information you are looking for, and you need to reach our bird care staff, simply leave us a message. Press #9 (for English), #1 for bird-related calls, and then #5. We will be happy to help you.

Birds are experts at raising their young

A young fledgling Veery that had been unintentionally taken from its parents was admitted in mid-June. Slightly smaller than an American Robin, Veerys are part of the Thrush family. They nest on the ground, or close to the ground, making them vulnerable to being taken or “kidnapped” by the public.

Many songbird fledglings spend weeks on the ground before they can fly well. This period is a critical part of the birds’ development and learning to help them prepare for survival in the wild. Parents will not stay with them, and will only feed their young every few hours. Most bird parents are afraid of people. They will not approach you, even if you approach their young. Healthy fledglings should never be removed from their parents.

This young Veery has transitioned from nestling to fledgling under our care. Upon arrival at the Centre, the bird was provided with subcutaneous fluids and fed insects. Since then, it has been fed mealworms and crickets as well as other foods on an hourly basis and has grown into a healthy, robust juvenile, now hunting its own prey. The bird has been placed in one of songbird aviaries, where it will perfect its flight and hunting skills before being released in the next two weeks.

Reconstructed aviary adds valuable space

With over 450 wild birds currently on site, our outdoor flight space is in high demand. Over the years, we have built several different types of aviaries to meet the needs of our patients. After 15 years of service, our insectivore aviary was in desperate need of reconstruction. This aviary often houses birds requiring a longer recovery period and more privacy.

Le Nichoir was fortunate to obtain a generous contribution of building materials and the efforts of a small team of volunteers to rebuild this aviary. Our most sincere thanks go to our volunteer builders and our friends at Hudson Hardware, a Castle Renovation Center.

We’re bracing for a challenge!

At Le Nichoir, we save birds. Even when our resources are stretched thin, and even when our enormously powerful volunteer program is temporarily suspended, we continue.

We are committed to keeping the doors open to care for the more than 2,000 anticipated bird admissions this year. The busy season is now upon us and we’re bracing for a challenge! Many of you have realized this. We are most thankful for the generous donor support received since the pandemic began.

The first sign of spring at the Centre usually comes at this time, with the loud and chirpy chatter of orphaned nestling birds demanding to be fed. But this year we experienced something a little bit special: a surprise mid-April visit from a beautiful Belted Kingfisher that was brought to us by a caring citizen. Showing symptoms of a collision injury, the bird was likely completing a long migration from Mexico or Central America, urgently looking to establish a territory and replenish much-depleted fat reserves.

When found, the Kingfisher was in shock and using its wings to drag itself along the ground. Our staff performed a medical examination and the prognosis was that although the bird had been temporarily stunned, it was in otherwise good health.

Although Kingfishers don’t generally do well in captivity, as a precaution, we administered pain medication and kept it overnight for observation. The next day, it took a test flight in one of our large aviaries, and we then released the bird on the shores of the Ottawa River.

We admit thousands of birds in a typical year, but each bird’s story is important to us. Case histories such as this are constant reminders of the impacts humans have on wild birds, and why Le Nichoir’s conservation work is so important.

A lesser-known aspect of that work is our promotion of certified Bird Friendly® coffee. Did you know that many of the species of birds found in our back yards spend the winter on coffee farms in Central America? As part of World Migratory Bird Day on May 9th, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center launched a campaign to promote the benefit certified Bird Friendly® coffee plays in wild bird conservation. We are proud to promote the initiative here in Canada. If you haven’t tried Le Nichoir’s locally roasted Bird Friendly® coffee, we encourage you to do so. The coffee you drink can change the world! (cafebirdfriendly.org)

The Conservation Centre, normally open to visitors, is presently closed to the public. This saddens us and is in stark contrast to last year when we received close to 7,000 visitors. To partially compensate for our closed doors, we created a virtual visit video that we hope you will enjoy. Click here.

Our organization is built on compassion, and we strongly believe it is our responsibility not only to take care of birds, but also to help take care of people. These are difficult days for all of us. Please stay safe and please consider making a donation to Le Nichoir if you are comfortably able to do so.

In sincere appreciation,




Wendy Dollinger, President


Susan Wylie




Susan Wylie, Director of Bird Care