Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings by Suzie Gilbert. First published 2009. As reviewed and pictured: softcover, 340 pages.
As a nature lover, I believe in helping wildlife any way I can. When it comes to rescuing wild animals in trouble, in virtually all cases the best thing to do is call a qualified, licensed wildlife rehabber. Since taking the Raptor Internship at Flint Creek Wildlife last year, I’ve become interested in the idea of rehabbing birds, but I haven’t had the opportunity to take this interest any further. Volunteering with FCWR in my limited capacity has already made it perfectly clear to me that wildlife rehabilitation takes an enormous amount of dedication. Maybe some day!
In Flyaway, author Suzie Gilbert recounts her struggles as she starts up a home-based wild-bird rehabilitation center. Chapter after chapter, stories of individual birds are told. The tales range from miraculous to hilarious, and from heartwarming to the truly heartbreaking.
Through each compelling bird story, the personal trials of the enthusiastic new rehabber are also related. Gilbert juggles her family, which includes two growing children, with her thankless role as caretaker of a never-ending stream of incoming avian patients. Despite vowing to only take in certain birds – songbirds in need of a flight chamber prior to release – she ends up with much more, including orphaned nestlings, injured raptors, ailing herons, and others. Many others. It’s too hard to say no; that and more takes a toll on the rehabber.
I have never both laughed and cried so often while reading a book. Gilbert is brutally honest with the reader about her failures as well as her success stories. She encounters the best and worst in humanity during her wildlife rehabilitation journey, and I found myself alternating between wanting to rehab birds myself to just cursing the entire human race. In the end, though, the book is an uplifting story of one woman’s journey as a wild bird rehabber and one I’m sure anyone interested in birds will love. I give Flyaway 5 Goldfinches out of 5.