Mealworms wriggled. Stressed-out pigeons chilled in cages covered with towels. Rebecca Michelin used a syringe to feed a tiny Northern saw-whet owl.
Things are getting back to normal at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education’s wildlife clinic in Roxborough after a several-month hiatus due to personnel problems. The clinic, part of the Schuylkill Center’s 300-acre parcel, was closed for several months in 2018 after Rick Schubert, its former head of wildlife rehabilitation, was fired after 13 years in the role.
The clinic reopened on Nov. 10, again accepting sick and injured mammals, songbirds, and raptors with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. The clinic celebrated a official grand opening Saturday. and Michelin, its new director, said animals are slowly being taken in.
“Because we’ve just reopened, we’re seeing overwintering animals, and the majority of those are birds,” Michelin, 33, said at the clinic one day last week. “It’s a pretty evenly split majority between songbirds and raptors. Most of them are either running into windows or getting hit by cars, although yesterday we did get a mourning dove that was attacked by a dog."
In late January, the clinic released a Cooper’s hawk that had been brought in by a Pennsylvania game officer. The hawk was released at the Navy Yard.
In July, Schubert told the Inquirer that he was retaliated against at the clinic for testifying on behalf of a coworker in an employment lawsuit. Most of the staff left with Schubert, and he started the Philadelphia Metro Wildlife Center. The Schuylkill Center disagreed with Schubert’s account but declined to comment further at the time, saying it had hired a new director and would reopen soon.
The Schuylkill clinic is seeking volunteers and donations, Michelin said, with the hope of revamping its outdoor facilities, particularly enclosures that help large birds exercise their wings. The clinic was rehabilitating a flying squirrel in an outdoor enclosure last week.
Michelin said the clinic expects to see opossums in coming weeks, as they are one of the first mammals to give birth in the spring. The clinic opened in 1987 and has treated more than 75,000 animals.
For more information visit: schuylkillcenter.org