By Rudabeh Shahbazi


MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A roseate spoonbill feeds in shallow waters in Key Largo. Just a few yards away is a safe haven for birds of all feathers at the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary.

Jordan Budnik is the executive director of the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary.

“We see many beautiful shorebirds, we also see pelagic birds that come in from the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Bay, we see neo-tropical and subtropical species that you don’t see elsewhere in the United States.”

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary in Key Largo. (CBS4)

Their mission is an important one to the environment. They rescue, rehabilitate, and release native and migratory birds brought to them for many reasons.

“Birds end up here for every reason, from being hit by a car to flying into windows,” explained Budnik.

A cormorant at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary in Key Largo. (CBS4)

A large enclosure houses many pelicans and cormorants, who tend to get in a whole lot of trouble, entangled in fishing line for example.

If an injured bird cannot be released, they remain here. Among the 90 species, there are some lesser-known residents like the Masked Booby.

A Masked Booby at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary in Key Largo. (CBS4)

“He’s a very, very interesting species that most people don’t get to see. He was tangled heavily in fishing line, he was hooked as well and he had a broken leg.”

In a case of a bad luck, good luck situation, the Booby climbed on to a boat that had a paramedic on board.

He later arrived at their “Birdgency Room” or E.R. which just last year received 900 birds.

A nonprofit organization, the Center relies on donor support and volunteer workers. The sanctuary is open 365 days to visitors for self-guided tours to learn about the mission and their residents.

Leopold the Barred Owl at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary in Key Largo. (CBS4)

“A lot of guests really love Leopold our Barred Owl. Owls almost seem like something out of a story book. They have these eyes and this odd shaped round faces and they just stare at you and people respond to that,” she said.

You do not have to be a bird nerd to appreciate them. As Budnik explains, they have an important role as an environmental indicator species.

“Whether it’s a coral reef, or a mangrove ecosystem or a wetland ecosystem, if an environment is not doing well or is not healthy, birds and amphibians and some fish going to indicate that.”

Click here to learn more about the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary.

Rudabeh Shahbazi

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