Found a bird? 707-484-6502 8:30am to 5:30pm
Found a bird? 707-484-6502 8:30am to 5:30pm
Hospital Volunteers in training are volunteers who aspire to work hands-on with the birds. After Hospital Volunteers are proficient in Level I and Level II duties of hospital operations and basic animal care, they are eligible to begin their training to work hands-on with the birds. After attending a New Volunteer Orientation, all incoming Hospital Volunteers will receive hands-on instruction as they work through the volunteer levels of our hospital operations.
Hospital Volunteers must commit to one 4-hour shift in the hospital per week, on the same shift every week, mid-April through August.
The Hospital Volunteer position consists of three levels:
Level 1: New volunteers work with a mentor and staff to properly perform basic hospital duties such as preparing hospital housing, doing laundry, food prep, feeding and cleaning mealworm colonies, and other essential animal husbandry duties. Excellent husbandry is vital in the recovery of all of our patients and represents most of our work as wildlife rehabilitators. When Level 1 skills are mastered, volunteers graduate to Level 2.
Level 2: Volunteers who are comfortable providing for our patients' basic needs may work with staff and mentors to learn how to care for the birds in our pre-release conditioning aviaries. Aviary patients require fresh food and water every day, new enrichment, and clean housing. Level 2 volunteers are also eligible to participate in releasing healthy patients back to the wild.
Level 3: Volunteers who have completed levels 1 and 2 are eligible to work with staff and a mentor to learn how to hand-feed baby birds. They will learn how to safely and correctly administer food to baby birds, properly handle babies, and clean hospital housing. Level 3 will begin by working with 1-2 species of a specific age group.
Hospital Volunteer Requirements
A Serious Commitment
We ask potential volunteers to seriously evaluate their schedules and other commitments before they join our volunteer team. Our patients depend on us for their food, housing, and medical needs. Volunteers are expected to show up for their scheduled shift - our patients are depending on you!
All incoming volunteers are required to commit to a regular volunteer shift for the duration of our "Baby Bird Season," mid-April through August. Many volunteers continue to volunteer after this period, but this is the minimum we require. During the winter, shifts are scheduled based on need and availability. At any given time, some shifts may be full and not taking new volunteers.
It is a Dirty Job!
Our work is tedious, dirty, and often physically demanding. Most tasks involve cleaning, carrying things, bending down, and being on your feet for the duration of your shift. There are a lot of bird poop, dirty things, and live insects involved. If you're squeamish or don't like cleaning, please consider our other volunteer opportunities such as administrative, educational outreach, or transport.
Please dismiss any images of Snow White from your imagination! We are working with wildlife and must take care to respect their wildness. This means we do not cuddle or talk to our patients. Their need to remain wild is our utmost priority. If you're seeking an opportunity to connect with and cuddle animals, please consider volunteering at a domestic animal rescue.
Health and Safety
Volunteering with wild songbirds involves some inherent health risks, and we are committed to minimizing or eliminating these risks. Biosecurity protocols must be observed at all times. Protective clothing such as gloves, eye protection, and face masks is required when conducting certain tasks around our patients. Volunteers who do not follow NSCC's health and safety protocols will be asked to leave our program.
All animals can carry, contract, and spread various diseases, and the wildlife we handle is no exception. Although many diseases are species-specific, some may be transferred between species and to us. Diseases we can contract from animals are called zoonotic diseases or zoonoses.
Zoonoses are a concern in wildlife rehabilitation; however, proper hygiene (washing hands before and after handling animals, eating, or using the washroom) and proper safety techniques (wearing gloves or masks as required) greatly minimize risk.
Volunteers with Pets
Some diseases that are not transmittable to us may be a danger to pets. Potentially sick wild animals must never come in contact with domestic animals. To keep the risk of exposure to you and your pets, observe the following:
Volunteers are required to wear closed-toe shoes at all times. Other clothing guidelines are at the volunteer’s discretion, but we recommend comfortable short or long sleeved tops and pants. Always wear something you do not mind getting dirty! Volunteering at the NSCC hospital is very hard on clothing.
These volunteers participate in a variety of tasks essential to good patient care such as preparing diets, folding laundry, setting up hospital housing for our patients, sweeping, mopping, and more. Hospital Support Volunteers work one 2-hour shift in the hospital each week. These shifts are scheduled 7 days a week, 9 am - 11 am and 3 pm to 5 pm. After attending a New Volunteer Orientation, all incoming Hospital Support Volunteers will receive hands-on instruction.
Transport volunteers pick up animals from the public and other wildlife facilities and shuttle them to our hospital. They may also transport animals from our hospital to other wildlife facilities. Most transports are local (in Sonoma County), but we also have a need for long-distance transports. Long-distance transports typically involve an occasional trip to Cordelia or San Rafael. Transport volunteer is an on-call position. One-on-one training is provided.
Our facility requires a lot of upkeep to ensure structures and equipment remain in safe working order. Projects include routine and seasonal tasks such as aviary repair and winterizing as well as special projects. There are always things to do to improve and maintain our facility. This position requires a project by project time commitment.
In addition to our Adult Volunteer program, we also offer volunteer opportunities for juniors (ages 10-12) and teens (ages 13-19). Our Junior and Teen volunteer programs provide an opportunity for young people interested in wildlife and the environment to participate in our work at NSCC. Although they are not able to work hands-on with the birds until they're 18 years of age, Junior and Teen volunteers fulfill a very important role as hospital support and help carry out a variety of tasks essential to the care of our patients.
The typical commitment is a 2-hour shift every week once the initial training is complete. This is a wonderful opportunity to fulfill community service for school and learn about wildlife care! Junior volunteers are required to complete their training and attend all shifts at the hospital with an adult guardian volunteer (a parent or grandparent, for example). Teen volunteers will work with an experienced volunteer initially, with the goal of working independently during their shift. They are expected to possess a high level of responsibility and maturity and take seriously the nature of our work at NSCC.