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Three Rivers Avian Center

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Photo Courtesy of Jodi French-Burr. TRAC Executive Director Wendy Perrone, right, gives a presentation during the group’s annual Migration Celebration in May at Little Beaver State Park. Photo Courtesy of Jodi French-Burr. TRAC Executive Director Wendy Perrone, right, gives a presentation during the group’s annual Migration Celebration in May at Little Beaver State Park.
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Nonprofit Focuses on Wild Bird Rehab

By JESSICA WIANT

For The State Journal

From volunteers to veterinarians, the folks who dedicate their time to the nonprofit Three Rivers Avian Center won’t be offended if told their work is for the birds.

It is. Of course, executive director Wendy Perrone is quick to point out that the impact of the wild bird rescue organization stretches far beyond that.

The state’s bird population influences lots of factors, according to Perrone, from pollination and seed distribution and insect control. But also not insignificant is the beauty birds bring to those who watch for them.

Perrone said it’s easier to see just how important the beauty of birds is to the human psyche simply by looking at the number of words there are dedicated to them.

Perrone and her husband, Ron, returned to West Virginia after college and started with raptor rehabilitation. But when it became apparent that other bird species could also benefit from the same kind of care, they eventually expanded and now include everything “from hummingbirds to eagles, soaring birds to wading birds.”

Founded in 1990, TRAC now sits on an expansive 103-acre facility next to the New River Gorge and oversees extensive rescue and education programs year-round.

On site, there are separate hospital wards to accommodate song birds, raptors and wading birds.

At any given time the facility might be rehabilitating one to 30 wild birds, she said. On a recent day, the group was in the process of taking in five baby barn owls and a Cooper’s hawk.

In November 2012, work was finished on a flight barn featuring three rooms and a flyaway used for therapy as well, Perrone said.

A board of directors, a network of about 40 volunteers and 20 veterinarians, contribute to the cause and have rehabbed well over 2,000 birds, according to TRAC’s website.

Emergency care, surgery, hospitalization and even physical therapy treatments for non-game and endangered wild birds is offered through TRAC. Recovered patients are usually released back into their native environments, the website says.

Things like collisions with windows or vehicles, predation by cats, being blown out of their nests and loss of habitat are a few of the main reasons birds end up under the care of TRAC, according to Perrone.

The West Virginia DNR Wildlife Diversity Program, The New River Gorge National River, The Huntington Tri-State Audubon Society, Study Web and the Charleston Gazette have given awards to TRAC. The Perrones — Ron Perrone serves as educational outreach coordinator — have both been honored as Distinguished Mountaineers by Gov. Joe Manchin, according to the TRAC website.

Tours of its facility, which sits between Sandstone and Hinton up against the gorge, are on the first Saturday of the month, May through October from 1 to 5 p.m.

Detailed information about TRAC, including care reports of the birds they have rescued, a list of upcoming events and more information about the history of the organization, is available online at tracwv.org. The group also has a page on Facebook.