Bird TLC’s New Avian Rehabilitation Clinic Opens
By Amy Newman
In 1991, Anchorage non-profit Bird Treatment and Learning Center purchased 4.5 acres of land off Old Seward Highway with the dream of building a permanent location to treat and rehabilitate the roughly 1,000 injured wild birds brought to its doors annually.
The years since have been filled with planning, fundraising, more planning and a few setbacks – including the ironic discovery in 2016 of an active eagle’s nest near the property, which temporarily stalled the start of construction.
But with the Nov. 24 grand opening of the Dr. James Scott Avian Rehabilitation Clinic, which overlooks Potter Marsh and the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, Bird TLC is finally able to spread its wings.
The 4,000-square foot facility, which is almost twice the size of its current rented space on King Street, includes the rehabilitation clinic, an exam room and office space. Large open-air cages, called mews, share space with enclosed cages, and will begin housing birds from the King Street location next month. Come spring, Bird TLC will break ground on a new flight center to replace the one currently located at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The flight center gives birds space to regain wing strength in preparation for release back into the wild. Birds that aren’t candidates for release are placed in wildlife facilities throughout the country.
Founded by Anchorage veterinarian Dr. James Scott, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game issued him a permit in 1964 to rehabilitate wild birds. The permit was the first of its kind in the state, according to a dedication written by longtime volunteers Karen Coady and Elise Patkotak.
In 1988, Bird TLC incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, which allowed it to add a science-based curriculum, interactive education programs, a bird placement program and an avian flight center to its work. Dr. Scott passed away before he was able to see his dream completed but his wife, Carol Scott, was on hand for the dedication of the clinic named in his memory.
“He’d be thrilled,” Carol told the hundreds of volunteers, supporters and well-wishers who filled the clinic. “He’s a part of all of it.”
It was his devotion to the project, as well as the devotion of those who have supported Bird TLC through the years, that made the new clinic possible, executive director Guy Runco said in his remarks.
“When I think of Bird TLC, I think of one word – and it’s not birds,” Runco said. “It’s dedication. The dedication of everyone involved is really breathtaking. The dedication of the volunteers, the dedication of Jim and Carol to see it through, the dedication of our supporters. We wouldn’t be here without you.”
In addition to the rehabilitation program, Bird TLC’s education and outreach programs reach 40,000 Alaskans and tourists annually. They eventually plan to build a separate education center, which will allow them to hold educational programs on-site. And after years of dreaming, they’re glad to finally have a place to call home.
“We’ve been in various buildings the past 30 years,” Runco said. “This building will serve us well for the next 30, at least.”
The Dr. James Scott Avian Rehabilitation Clinic is located at 15510 Old Seward Highway. To schedule a presentation, report an injured bird, or learn how you can help, visit www.birdtlc.org or call 562-4852.