Parkite aspires to open Hummingbird Hospital to help rehabilitate tiny patients
Jody Giddings' experience as a wildlife rehabilitator led her to launch a new bird rescue in Park City
The Park City-area could someday be home to a state-of-the-art clinic that’s the first of its kind in the United States, but its primary focus will be on patients who are only around 3 inches long.
Jody Giddings, who moved to Utah from Maine in 2022 after working in wildlife rehabilitation for more than a decade, plans to start the first phase of the Park City Hummingbird Hospital this week. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured birds in Utah with a specific focus on hurt or orphaned hummingbirds.
“One of the nice things about hummingbirds is that they’re one of the few species that do interact well with humans,” she said. “Anyone who’s had a hummingbird feeder knows that they will approach you. They’re very curious creatures – and that’s one of the best things about working with them because they almost seem like they understand that you’re trying to help them.”
Though Giddings has been planning to open the rehabilitation facility for a while, it comes at a time when one of the state’s largest wildlife centers was forced to temporarily close.
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah shut down earlier in May after the city of Ogden forced the nonprofit to leave its building by September, preventing the center from accepting new patients just before the busy season, for the expansion of a parking lot. The nonprofit is asking city officials to extend the deadline to vacate.
Giddings is hopeful the launch of Park City Hummingbird Hospital will help address the gap in services locally and in neighboring communities.
Her experience in wildlife rehabilitation started in Maine after Giddings left her career as a kindergarten teacher to become a volunteer, and later, the executive director of Sunday River Wildlife. There, Giddings saved thousands of animals each year and worked with creatures ranging from squirrels to various species of raptors. She became a certified wildlife rehabilitator after completing 1,000 hours of training.
After relocating to Park City, Giddings began partnering with a veterinarian in Salt Lake County to assist with transporting and rescuing sick or injured animals. And she’s already been busy helping several patients this year.
Last week, Giddings was called to Parley’s Park Elementary School to assist with reuniting an owlet that had wandered beyond a fence with its mother. She knows that owls don’t build nests, but take over ones that have already been built. This can often lead to babies falling out of the trees. It’s also nearly fledging season, a time in which young birds are found outside of the nest as they are learning to fly, which often leads to an increased call volume.
Giddings arrived with a kit with gloves and other personal safety equipment, binoculars and a container to hold or transport the owlet. She located the bird, performed a quick check and placed it under a tree close to its mother.
There was also another recent report of goslings wandering around a busy roadway. Giddings said she surveyed the area for the baby birds’ mother but was unable to find it. Luckily, she found another family of geese that accepted the goslings.
“Our goal is always to reunite,” Giddings said. “Sometimes it takes a bit of detective work.”
Giddings’ experience and training as a wildlife rehabilitator allow her to work with a variety of species, though the Park City Hummingbird Hospital has a specific focus on birds. The Parkite also wants to specialize in hummingbirds because there are currently no other rehabilitation facilities dedicated to the smallest birds.
The clinic will need a wide variety of medical equipment including nebulizers or oxygen tanks for the birds, operating tools and a small X-ray machine as well as specialty medicine, food and more. The goal is to create a dedicated hospital at some point, but the nonprofit must first raise the funds. The center is currently located in Sun Peak.
“We’re really starting from scratch,” she said. “We want to make a little visiting center with a community garden that has hummingbirds. It will be an area where people can observe the work we’re doing because nothing like that exists in the whole country.”
Park City Hummingbird Hospital would continue working with vets when necessary until it can acquire its own qualified staff and supplies. It also plans to collaborate with other organizations from across the state to help provide more information to Utahns on where to receive help or resources.
In addition to rescuing and rehabilitating birds, Giddings wants the Park City Hummingbird Hospital to offer citizen science opportunities. She said the community will be invited to participate in wildlife counts, educational programming and nature walks. Other partners, such as the Park City Nursery, have also provided advice on how to attract hummingbirds, such as the native plants they are attracted to.
Giddings is currently operating the Park City Hummingbird Hospital on her own. The nonprofit will need volunteers to help with transportation and providing care. She plans to host an informational night once receiving the appropriate permits that guarantee the center meets National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association standards.
Community members can begin utilizing Park City Hummingbird Hospital services by reaching out to Giddings through the Hummingbird Hotline. People with questions or concerns about wildlife are encouraged to text or call 801-228-0831.
Giddings said it’s best to wait until confirmation an animal is sick or injured before taking action. She reminded people not to panic, and encouraged them to take a photo of the animal to help identify the species and diagnose the problem. It’s usually best to then capture the creature in a box with air holes to ensure it’s contained for when rescuers arrive or during transportation, depending on expert advice.
Visit hummingbirdhospital.org for more information and updates.
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