Wild bird sanctuary set to open on Evans Road in Glocester

The entrance to the wild bird sanctuary at 175 Evans Road, Glocester. The gravel driveway has to be upgraded to accommodate fire trucks and rescues, and must be a minimum of 20 feet wide. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

GLOCESTER – A wild bird rehabilitation center is on track to make its home in the woods of Glocester.

At the recent Glocester Town Council meeting, the council approved a variance allowing access via an approved right of way to approximately 40 acres of somewhat remote woodlands, which will provide a secluded area for rehabilitated birds to process their way back to the wilds.

The entrance to the property will be at 175 Evans Road with a right of way going through property owned by Raymond Hearst. Hearst is also the current owner of the proposed wildlife center property, which he is selling to Congress of the Birds.

“We rehabilitate upwards of 1,000 birds each year,” explained Diana Ducharme of Congress of the Birds, Inc., a nonprofit corporation located in Providence.

The corporation is listed as, “a wild bird rehabilitation center, dedicated to saving injured and orphaned wild birds, and preventing unnecessary mortality, through rehabilitative care, education, advocacy, and conservation. And to offer other such charitable; benevolent; or eleemosynary services as may otherwise be afforded to a not for profit organization in the state of Rhode Island.”

When asked about buildings that might be constructed on the land, Ducharme explained that a variety of aviaries, wire enclosed areas with shelters, would be built to help gradually acclimate an assortment of birds back into the wild. That could include everything from goldfinches to eagles, and anything in between.

Jayme Anderberg, whose property abuts the property in question, voiced his concerns about the release of hawks and other predatory birds in the area.

“As a homeowner with chickens, are we talking a large number of predatory birds getting released?” he asked.

“Most of the birds we are releasing actually have to go back to where they came from,” Ducharme responded. “So, right now, for example, we have three baby great horned owls, and they have to go back to where they came from. They came from three separate locations. They actually have to be released exactly where they were found because their parents are still in the area. We just release them when they get to the point where they can fly.”

Songbirds, she added, would be released from the center directly.

Anderberg also asked about adding traffic to the area, including vehicles and human traffic. His family background is in nature and wildlife preservation, he added, and he is familiar with wildlife centers and the like.

“For the center, is this going to be something that is going to be multiple employees, people in and out?” he asked. “When there are releases, is this going to be a public thing with attendees?”

Ducharme explained that the center will, basically, be a refuge kept away from public view. Only a handful of people will be there at any given time to provide privacy and care so as not to interfere with the rehabilitation process of reintroducing the birds back into nature.

“If you mean by ‘public,’ a large crowd of people, we consider that bad practice because it stresses out the animals, especially wild animals,” said Jonathan Schroeder, Ducharme’s husband and co-director of Congress of the Birds.

“The land is really beautiful and untouched, so it is an ideal place,” Ducharme said.

When Councilor Cheryl Greathouse asked if the Congress would be a place to take local injured birds, Ducharme said that if someone finds an injured bird, they should call the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and they will determine if the bird should be brought to the Congress for rehabilitation and care.

One of the stipulations of the variance was a very detailed list of requirements for the right of way, which must be 20 feet wide and able to accommodate fire and rescue vehicles, and must have clear signage on the entrance on Evans Road. Currently, a narrow gravel driveway is in place. Once constructed, the right of way must be formally approved by the Harmony Fire Chief, following the Council’s stipulations which align with local ordinances.

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