10/23/12 It is always interesting to find out what others in Plymouth are doing while we each go about our daily routine.  We so often get caught up in our own world we forget there are others who have worlds of their own.  In our beautiful city of Plymouth there is a lively little lady who loves birds.

Pat Knight has loved animals of all kinds from the time she was a small child growing up in Elkhart.  At the age of eleven she found a little duckling who soon became her very best friend.  However, as much as she loved the duckling she didn’t know one thing about taking care of a duckling.  The more she played with the duckling and tried to take care of it, the sicker the little duckling became.  Her mother suggested she call the local veterinarian and ask how to care for it.  The vet didn’t help so she called another and another and not one veterinarian seemed to be able to tell her what to do.  The little duckling died and Knight was devastated.  She decided that would never happen again.

Over the years Knight had different pets and learned as much about animals as she possibly could.  While she loves all animals her heart belongs to birds.  She eventually became licensed through the DNR and has a permit to rehabilitate birds.  And that is what she does in her backyard in Plymouth, Indianan while the rest of us go on about our daily business.

Knight recently spoke at Miller’s Senior Living Community and explained to the residents and their guests what a bird rehabilitator actually does and why it is important to rehabilitate birds.  It is usually young children who rescue a bird they find on the ground unable to fly.  The child will take the bird to a parent who usually has no clue what to do for the bird.  The parent often calls a vet as Knight did so many years ago and finds out that vets don’t often take in wild birds.  Through further research the parent finds out about Knight and her organization Songbirds of Northern Indiana.  They then bring the child and the bird to her residence.   Knight reassures the child that she deals in “happy endings” and will do all that is within her power to rehabilitate the bird back to health and return the bird to the wild.

Knight stressed the value of songbirds in our lives and our environment.  Birds are important to our public health as they eat the bugs that can destroy so many of our crops and other things in our yards and fields.  The birds also  pollinate plants.  Birds can even save human life.  She pointed out the canaries that are taken in to the coal mines.  The canaries are considered a priceless necessity as they are used to determine if there is enough air in the mines or if there are gas leaks of any kind.  She also told about how the California gulls saved the Mormon communities  in the 1870’s.  The Mormons planted their crops, the katydids infested the area and began destroying the crops.  The California gulls then migrated to the area and feasted on the katydids.   In gratitude there is still a statue standing in Salt Lake City in honor of the great gull.

Knight is often asked why she puts so much effort into rehabilitating birds.  After all, one little bird doesn’t really make much of a difference – or does it?  Knight explained the long term effect rehabilitating just two birds would have over a 5 year period.

“Let’s say you and you,” she said pointing to two different people in the audience, “each brought me a little robin. I go ahead and rehabilitate each of these robins until they are well and ready to be released back into their natural habitat.  Those two little birds go out and each have babies.  Then those babies  go out and have their babies.  Why, in just five years we would have over 9,000 wild songbirds that are out doing their jobs.  All of that from just two little robins you rescued!”

Knight  opened her program up for a question and answer time.  Many were interested in knowing how many birds she rehabilitates in a year.  She responded that the average is probably around 110 or so.  This past year was a little higher with 139.  She has rehabilitated all sorts of songbirds including robins, cardinals, nut hatches, gold finches, hummingbirds and many more.

It is apparent as Knight discusses her bird rehabilitation work that she loves doing it.  It is more than a hobby it is her passion.  It is not cheap to rehabilitate birds and there is no national funding for this type of work.  If you would like to find out more about Knight and her work you may go to www.songbirdsofnorthernindiana.org.  If you find a bird that needs help you may call Knight at 574-936-5140.

Photo captions:  Local bird rehabilitator Pat Knight shows a photo of and discusses Robin Robin a bird she recently and successfully rehabilitated.