Photo by Jody Giddings


“When you see a baby hummingbird that you’ve been caring for fly for the first time, it’s amazing,” says Jody Giddings when I spoke to her recently about her 10 years of experience as a wildlife rehabilitator. Jody is the founder of Sunday River Wildlife that opened this past December in Newry. Sunday River Wildlife’s mission it to help native Maine wildlife including baby chipmunks, turtles, weasels, and even bats. Birds, including tiny hummingbirds (photo by Jody Giddings), are a specialty. “At first, they don’t know what they are doing, but when a hummingbird zips up and hovers for the first time, I swear they get a look on their little faces that says, ‘Wow, look what I can do’.” Jody says, when that happens, she knows these little acrobats will soon be ready to be released into the wild.

Sunday River Wildlife is one of only three rehab centers in Maine which accepts birds, and we are lucky to have her. A few weeks ago, when the Great Horned Owlets at Valentine Farm ended up on the ground, Jody came to the rescue. We are at the very peak of nesting season for area birds, and Jody encourages people to call the center’s hotline at (207) 466-4700 if they encounter anything unusual. She answers 24 hours a day and says probably 25% of the calls do not require a rescue. Usually, she can provide simple instructions on what to do.

“For instance, most people don’t understand that fledglings (chicks with feathers that can hop around) learn to fly from the ground,” Jody explained. “The parents are always close and will feed and care for them. So, if they are in a safe place, your best bet is to leave them alone.”

Sunday River Wildlife is a non-profit organization and relies entirely on donations. There is never any charge for their help, even if they have to come to your house.

“We were lucky that we were able to reunite the Great Horned Owlets with their parents at Valentine Farm. But we didn’t do it on our own. Volunteers from Mahoosuc Land Trust, as well as time donated by the staff at Evan’s Tree Service were critical.”

Jody explained that if she’d had to hand raise the owlets, it would have cost around $100 a week for the two of them. “Ten baby hummingbirds will consume about $25 a week.”

Those interested in helping will find a “needs list” at Details for making a contribution or becoming a “Team Wild and Free” member are also on the site. It is a simple way to help the birds and wildlife of our area.

James Reddoch, of Albany Township and Boston, leads birding events for the Mahoosuc Land Trust. Visit Mahoosuc Land Trust at 162 North Road, Bethel, ME. To contact James, send your emails to [email protected]

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