Changes at the Centre

Ending Public Visiting Hours in the Centre’s Hospital Area

Thousands of visitors have toured through the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre over the past two decades. Our “open doors” policy has provided a rare opportunity to see the varied bird patients in our care and to learn how human actions can have a direct and often negative impact on the health of local and migratory birds.

First, the good news. Our Centre is more well-known than ever before. Our increased focus on social media, public outreach, educational programs, and community partnerships has raised awareness of the amazing work our staff and volunteers do every day.

This has resulted in more distressed birds being rescued and brought to our Centre for rehabilitation and eventual release. As expected, we are also seeing many more visitors coming through our small building. During certain hours, visitors have been free to roam, unguided through most parts of the Centre, including many patient areas.

While we have been happy to offer this experience to visitors, the practice is not widespread among other wildlife rehabilitation facilities. Rehab centres are effectively hospitals, not zoos, and our first responsibility must be to the patients in our care.

For this reason, as of April 1, 2018, public visiting hours will no longer be permitted in the Centre’s hospital area.

Our decision to limit public access was not made lightly. Captivity is highly stressful for wildlife. Our birds are further stressed when approached by humans or exposed to loud noise – and stress to an already compromised bird can result in them refusing to eat or drink and take longer to recover. Our Centre wants to provide our patients with a quiet, stress-free environment that allows them to recover faster and be released sooner. Human interactions with patients should only be done for their daily care and medical procedures.

Anyone who has dropped by our building knows is it small and ill-equipped to accommodate large numbers of visitors. Our staff and volunteers find it difficult to navigate through hallways when they are crowded, obstructing their access to rooms and cages. And, with the growing number of patients arriving at our door, we have had to convert more of those hallways into spaces for birds.

At the same time, we know how critical it is to engage with the public and educate as many people as possible on the natural history, conservation, and rehabilitation of wild birds. Visitors will still be welcome to tour the educational exhibits and growing number of taxidermy specimens on display in the Grace and Gordon Casselman Resource Room accessed at the back of our building. The front entrance will now be reserved for bird admissions only, which will continue to be from 8 am to 4 pm daily, 365 days a year.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram for regular updates on birds in our care and future developments at the Centre. You can also join the growing number of supporters who read our monthly e-news and biannual Wingbeats newsletter by subscribing here.

Guided tours will be available during certain special events, such as March Break and “Doors Open Ottawa” in June.

Our staff and board will continue to look for opportunities to increase public engagement and awareness of the centre. We are particularly excited about the opportunities a new building will bring, including a much larger visitor’s centre and maybe one day, outdoor interpretative activities. Stay tuned for more news on this front in the coming weeks and months.

Thank you so much for your understanding and your continued support,

The WBCC staff, volunteers,… and the birds.