Shimer College

June 03, 2014

Summer Internship Blog: BIRDS BIRDS BIRDS

SIM blog!

(Note: I’ve never written a blog before. so. please bear with me as I screw everything up.) Hello everyone! I thought I would divide this blog post up into two different sections: Who I am, and what I’m doing. So if you know everything about me feel free to skip down.

Who I am: I am Mey. I am a fourth year Shimer student. I like the environment, swimming, and my family. I was born and raised in San Francisco. Growing up by the Bay has had a huge influence on my life. I think I’ve really changed because of it… Honestly, this city has shaped me so much, I don’t really know who I would be without it, or what it even means to say that ‘living in the Bay has changed me’, because there is no me without the ‘living by the Bay’ part. Being from this city, with its mannerisms and quirks, it’s become totally ingrained into my narrative. I was a pretty shy kid growing up. I went to a Chinese immersion elementary school where I suffered from a bad public education system, and dyslexia. Two problems which combined to make learning something very hard for me. When I went to School Of The Arts High School, I went into theater, and I think that really encouraged me to be articulate, and far more comfortable in front of others. (Not to mentioned it’s sparked a life long passion and respect for Theater. Love you Erica!) I’ve loved reading ever since I figured out how to do it.(remember the dyslexia problem?) And Shimer seemed like a lovely fit for someone like me. (i.e. someone weird, for whom conventional teaching methods had been so far unsuccessful, and who enjoys the rigor of reading). Moving to Chicago held many surprises. I’m sure most of them were not unique to my situation, but more a product of living on my own for once. But I’m so happy I found Shimer, this school has been a gift, and I’m so glad I’m here.

What I’m doing: I am working at the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in the San Francisco Bay! The center works with many different birds in a whole range of ways. Work there is hard, it’s dirty, and it’s necessary. I mean, talk about Star Throwers! There is a small staff, but the center runs on volunteers. These volunteers, who are mainly older women, are remarkable. They work so hard for nothing but the satisfaction of helping. And the work here is really difficult, you’re on your feet all day: cleaning cages, checking birds, and dealing with raw fish, bird poop, and needles. And these people do it without a second thought.

The center helps thousands of birds a year, and currently has hundreds of birds in residence. The cutest current residents are the almost 100 ducklings flapping around in the holding room. (Although my current favorite residences are the pied-billed grebes in the pools, but more on them later.) I start the day at 8 am cleaning and feeding in the duckling cages. (And, I mean, what better way to start the day but with duck poop and high pressure hoses.) Then it’s helping with the medical check ups and cleaning. I currently am not trained enough to do the check ups alone, but will learn to. Check up consists of going over the birds physical well being, administering any medicine the bird needs, checking temperature, weight, and, if needed, the red blood cell count. The staff do a bit more of the advanced medical work, and a vet comes once a week to do the major surgeries.

After morning feedings and medicine, it’s lunch at 12:30 ish. We try to all have lunch together. The afternoon is filled with more cleaning, check ups, and the intake of new birds. There is also afternoon feeding and medicine distribution. (For the birds who need medicine twice a day).if it’s a light day, most of the work finishes up around 6 pm, then it’s clean up and close down for another hour or so. On the longer days we don’t stop until 7 pm, and clean up ends at 8.

I’m living at the center while I work there, so I usually take a shower immediately after, as I am probably covered in bird poo and who knows what else. There is another intern living there, and we will be joined before long by two other interns, to make a total of 4 fresh-faced helpers. The only other intern I’ve met, G, is amazing, she is training to be a vet and plans to go to vet school after she graduates, so, as you can imagine, she is far more skilled than me at handling the animals, and is already doing most of the job without supervision.

I’ll try to go over some more of the bird species and the amazing people I work with in my next post, and try to include some pictures too. just as a sampler of what kind of birds were working with: we’ve got Pelicans, Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Grebes, and, of course, the ducklings. See you next time! Comment any questions and I’ll try to address them!

-Mey Lee