Interview with wildlife rehabilitator Nora Missell

Nora Missell first became involved in wildlife when her daughter brought home a bird from the vet clinic she worked for after school. Soon after, they saw a poster in a pet store about becoming a wildlife rehabilitator. She called that number – that was about 35 years ago! She mostly does birds but really enjoys the flying squirrels as well.  The joyful experiences are being able to help wildlife and return them to the wild. The saddest ones are the birds that die from being caught by cats. Nora loves it when she puts a new fledgling (a juvenile bird that’s just learning to fly) in a cage with older fledges and they start to feed them. “It’s amazing and really helps to keep the bird wild.”

Cuckoo, one of the birds in Nora’s care.

Nora usually handles around 400 wildlife critters each year. That hasn’t really changed over time. She says that the real changes have been in the Wildlife Rescue League.  WRL now has transporters who can bring the birds to her from the vet clinics and helpline volunteers who can answer a lot of the questions about the wildlife, leaving her time to feed and care for her charges. Additionally, WRL helps offset her costs by supplying some of the items needed to rehabilitate, such as seeds, bird food and meal worms.

Waxwing – one of the birds in Nora’s care.

Nora’s advice to someone that wants to rehab – “just know it’s a commitment and time consuming. We try to help each other and there is a lot of support out there. I feel wildlife gets dealt a bad deal and being able to help them get back in the wild is very rewarding.”

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Wildlife Rescue League - Viriginia
Wildlife Helpline 703-440-0800
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