Interning with the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is a great way to gain experience working in wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and education. Our interns come from a variety of backgrounds, and they go on to an even greater array of post-internship careers and graduate programs. Below you’ll find anecdotes from some of our most recent interns that completed internship programs with the FKWBC.

 

Katie Boatman, Sanctuary/Hospital Intern, Summer 2016

University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
Wildlife Ecology Research & Management Major

  • What tasks did you perform when you were an intern with the FKWBC?

    My internship at the FKWBC included working in the sanctuary as well as in the hospital. In the sanctuary my main tasks were to clean up each enclosure, prepare food, feed out food, pick up fish to be used for later feed outs, and monitor our resident’s behavior and appearance. Cleaning up the enclosures involved scrubbing branches, perches, and water bowls, taking out leftover food, and providing fresh water. Preparing and feeding out food varied between morning and afternoon as well as with the type of species. Medical cages held non-resident birds that were to be released, so it was important to know what each of these birds required daily in their diet and prepare food accordingly. After taking care of the birds in the morning, I would pick up donated fish from three different locations and drop off chum if needed. It was important to sift through all the donated fish and keep the best quality fish to be fed out later on.

    Working in the hospital, the main tasks involved getting medication and fluids ready, cleaning up cages, monitoring and inspecting all birds, preparing food and feeding out, caring for baby birds, maintaining a clean hospital environment, and taking emergency calls. It was crucial to make sure we were being sterile and accurate when it came to pulling up medication and fluids to be given to our patients. It was also very important to check over each patient to see if any injury or ailment had worsened or improved. Preparing food and feeding each bird always varied depending on the species and whether they were eating well. Some birds required being hand fed or force fed. Baby birds that were in our care needed to be fed every 15, 30, or 60 minutes depending on where they were in development. Handling emergency calls also meant we had to be knowledgeable on how to handle each situation and rescue any birds that required attention. We would be responsible for taking emergency calls after hours at least one day per week.

  • What were your goals for this internship prior to working with our team?

    My main goals were to gain a better understanding of the rehabilitation process, become more comfortable with handling and interacting with birds, and become more knowledgeable of avian species in general.

  • What was your favorite part of your internship?

    In the sanctuary, I really enjoyed becoming familiar with each of our permanent residents and learning their behaviors and characters. It was interesting to see how each resident interacted with me when I was cleaning out their cage or feeding them. I always had a great time hand feeding and giving Samson, the great horned owl, an afternoon bath. I believe he had a hoot as well! It was also incredibly rewarding to work in the hospital and watch how our patients improve day by day until they could be released. Watching baby birds develop, learn how to survive on their own, and be released was also a really cool process to be apart of.

  • How will your experience with the FKWBC help you to advance in your career?

    Although my mind is not completely set on a specific job that I would like in the future, I am very certain that I would like to continue working with avians and I know the experience and skills that I have gained at the FKWBC will be very beneficial to me when it comes to advancing in this field. Since my internship involved working in the sanctuary as well as the hospital, I got a full spectrum of learning opportunities. Working in the sanctuary, I was able to become more aware of each individual bird’s behavior, how to care for them, and how to give them an enriching environment. In the hospital I was able to gain skills that involved more intensive care such as learning how to correctly handle birds, administer medication and fluids, how to do check ups on the bird’s appearance, clean wounds, force feed, and intake new patients which involved getting a weight and temperature, checking emaciation and hydration status, and trying to diagnose any problem. Even though this internship was only three months of experience, I feel very confident with the skills that I have gained and can carry them out in my future work with birds.

  • Anything else to add?

    I couldn’t be happier about my decision to take on the internship at the FKWBC. :)


 

Tara Tischio, Hospital Intern, Summer 2016

University of Prince Edward Island – Atlantic Veterinary College
Veterinary Medicine

  • What tasks did you perform when you were an intern with the FKWBC?

    At the FKWBC, I was a hospital intern, meaning that I spent basically all of my time dealing with the patients at our hospital who need more intense or more frequent care. Our daily routine consisted of feeding birds and cleaning cages but I did get to help with a lot of the medical procedures as well. This included tube feeding, obtaining radiographs, administering oral medications, and much more.

    I also was allowed to help train one of our permanent birds, Aria, a young Merlin who came in to us after being hit by a car during migration season. Every day I would feed her and walk her around the sanctuary on my glove to get her used to people. Eventually, I hope she will be ready to participate in education events and to teach children about wild birds and how they affect us.

  • What were your goals for this internship prior to working with our team?

    I had worked at another wild bird rehabilitation center prior to my internship at the FKWBC, but rehabilitation techniques vary widely from one center to another. I wanted to experience another center to be able to compare and contrast how they go about their mission to rehabilitate these injured and orphaned wild birds.

  • What was your favorite part of your internship?

    I enjoyed working with our veterinarian, Nancy Saxe, and the head rehabilitator, Kayla Gainer, on the rarer cases because they both were really good at answering all my questions and explaining some of the more in depth medical procedures.

  • How will your experience with the FKWBC help you to advance in your career?

    Not only did I gain experience with a lot of the physical skills involved in rehabilitation, but I also gained more experience in determining which approach is most appropriate for each case. Most of the time, there is not one right answer for how to rehabilitate a patient. Being able to discuss options and treatment plans with the rehabilitators was an invaluable experience.

  • Anything else to add?

    While the medicine and the birds were both extremely interesting and fun to deal with every day, the people I worked with were the highlight. It’s a great team and I enjoyed it immensely.


 

Steven Warchocki, Education Intern, Summer 2016

Ithaca College
Biology Major

  • What tasks did you perform when you were an intern with the FKWBC?

    During my internship at the FKWBC, I worked on furthering the organization’s educational initiatives and revitalizing the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program in Monroe County. Educational initiatives included science-based presentations and activities at youth summer camps and community events, composing ornithology related articles for FKWBC’s social media, and improving and expanding sanctuary signage.

  • What were your goals for this internship prior to working with our team?

    During my time at the FKWBC, I wanted to gain additional experience in science education in an informal setting, while making significant contributions to the organization’s educational initiatives. Specifically, I wanted to gain experience developing and delivering biology-related programs and presentations to diverse audiences.

  • What was your favorite part of your internship?

    Giving presentations with Leopold, FKWBC’s Barred Owl. Students and audiences were really engaged in and excited about these presentations.

  • How will your experience with the FKWBC help you to advance in your career?

    The FKWBC internship not only gave me additional experience delivering science programs, it provided the opportunity to contribute to the center’s interpretive signage and social media, two seminal aspects of organizations with science education goals.

  • Anything else to add?

    I had a great time learning and working with all the FKWBC staff, interns, and Leopold during the 2016 summer.


 

Erin Dye, Sanctuary/Hospital Intern, Summer 2016

Auburn University
Wildlife Ecology & Management Major

  • What tasks did you perform when you were an intern with the FKWBC?

    While I was an intern at the FKWBC, I spent half of my time at the Wild Bird Sanctuary and the other half of my time at the hospital. At the sanctuary, I was responsible for the feedings and the upkeep of the bird enclosures. For feedings, I had to know the amount of food being given to each bird/bird enclosure and monitor any possible changes in eating habits. In order to get all of the fish for the feedings, I would pick up donated fish from different locations, sort through it, and deliver the chum to the local fisheries. I would scrub water bowls and branches in the enclosures to keep them clean. When bird patients from the hospital would come to the sanctuary for pre-release, I would monitor the bird and notify the main rehabilitator if I notice any changes in behavior. I would spend my days working alongside the sanctuary staff and interacting with daily guests.

    At the hospital, I worked alongside the staff in the care of all the patients. I would help clean cages, feed the patients, and distribute medicine to those who needed it. I spent most of my time in the baby songbird room doing the 30 minute/1 hour feedings and found myself really enjoying that. I also had the opportunity to observe a surgery on a Masked Booby.

  • What were your goals for this internship prior to working with our team?

    Before I began my internship with the FKWBC, I had a goal to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation, specifically with birds. I had worked with another avian rehabilitation center before, and I had looked forward to see the techniques at the FKWBC. I would like to continue in wildlife rehabilitation and hoped the time I would spend here would help me get further into the field.

  • What was your favorite part of your internship?

    I enjoyed the opportunity I had to work with our American Crow and begin his training to hopefully become an educational bird. Watching his progress throughout my time with him and seeing him grow all of his feathers was truly rewarding, and I am so excited for him to keep improving.

    I also loved getting to know all of the resident birds at the sanctuary and learning each of their personalities. Every day I would look forward to bathing Samson, one of our Great-Horned Owls, and watch him stretch out his wings. Junior, another one of our Great-Horned Owls, quickly became one of my favorites with his grumpy attitude, and seeing him become more comfortable with me was cool to watch.

  • How will your experience with the FKWBC help you to advance in your career?

    Hoping to continue in wildlife rehabilitation, I had the opportunity to learn so many more techniques to working with and healing patients. Seeing the way the staff works here will help me in my future career for ensuring an animal’s best chance of being released. Working at the FKWBC has been an extremely helpful step for me to continue into the wildlife rehabilitation field.

  • Anything else to add?

    Working at the FKWBC felt like a dream, and I will be forever grateful for the time I got to spend with the incredible staff!


 

Interested in applying for an internship program with our team? Then check out our internship program page and apply today!