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Fascination with wild birds runs in the family

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 | Posted by
Dave Laurice with Vee, one of his feathered friends from the Bird Rescue Center.

Dave Laurice with Vee, one of his feathered friends from the Bird Rescue Center. (Courtesy photo)

Cloverdale’s Dave Laurice will be one of the volunteers on hand this Saturday to welcome visitors to the Bird Recue Center’s 2nd annual Festival of Feathers Open House fundraiser.

Laurice first signed up for the BRC’s in-depth training in September 2012. His quest to become a handler required three hours of training at the Santa Rosa-based center every Saturday for nine months. He learned about the different types of raptors, how to handle them, how to feed them, and even how to eventually release them back into the wild.

“It’s become almost like my second home,” he says. “I handle as often as I can and take part in as many events and visitor days as I can. It never gets old. These birds are magnificent and I truly enjoy being around them.”

Thanks to his mother-in-law, the 41-year old science teacher has also discovered the joys of bird watching. His wife, Melissa, had often joined her mother on her adventures and now accompanies Laurice on his outings, as well. Despite insisting she is not a birder, she has signed them up for their first organized bird watch at the Santa Rosa Laguna early next month.

Laurice says the thing he likes about bird watching is that it’s something you can do anywhere every day. He saw his first Golden Eagle from his father’s front porch on Highway 128. Since he started keeping a list late last August, he has recorded sightings of 266 different species.

In Cloverdale, he and Melissa especially like to go to the River Park where he says the variety of birds is incredible, from osprey to blue jays to woodpeckers. “I once saw four species of woodpeckers without even moving my head,” he recalls.

Bird Rescue’s mission is to “rescue, rehabilitate and release.” Every year, they care for between 2,500 and 3,000 native birds who have been injured, orphaned or are ill.

According to Executive Director Mary Ellen Rayner, 125 volunteers spent 75,000 hours helping with bird rescue and rehabilitation in the last year. “This includes volunteers taking their time and paying for their own gas to go to businesses and homes to assist in rescuing birds when help is needed,” she adds.

Their permanent resident raptors are known as Ambassadors, and include a variety of different birds, including turkey vultures, owls, osprey, hawks and falcons. They are the “face” of the BRC, accompanying the handlers to various classrooms and other off-site event locations to promote the work done at the center.

At this year’s free Festival of Feathers Open House on April 26, the public is invited to “rap with a raptor,” meet Laurice and his fellow volunteers and ask lots of questions from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., while enjoying wine tasting, appetizers, snacks, a silent auction and activities for kids.

The nonprofit Bird Rescue Center is located at 3430 Chanate Road, just east of Sutter Hospital. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first Saturday and third Sunday of each month, it is open to the public for tours and to meet resident education birds, talk with volunteers and learn more about avian care and rehabilitation.

More info: 523-BIRD or birdrescuecenter.org.



  • Dave Laurice

    Thanks for the props for BRC and birding in general, Mary Jo- I am biased for sure, but this Dave guy sounds pretty interesting.

  • http://birdrescuecenter.org Mary Ellen Rayner

    Thank you Mary Jo for such a great article just before our Festival! Dave is a fantastic volunteer and raptor handler. One thing I point out Is that our hours for open house on the first Saturdays and third Sundays every month are now from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. If you can’t come to the Festival, please consider an open house. If so let me know. I would love to meet you!

  • Veronica Bowers

    Wonderful article about our friends at BRC! Please show your support and join them for their festival on Saturday!

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Mary Jo Winter is our Cloverdale correspondent.
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