Wildlife rehabilitation is the treatment and temporary care of injured, diseased, orphaned and displaced indigenous wildlife, and the subsequent return of healthy viable animals to appropriate habitats in the wild*. Wildlife rehabilitation in the United States is strictly regulated by State and Federal Agencies and Laws.
Many rehabilitation centers choose to specialize in a particular group of animals, as we do at the Seabird Station. The Seabird Station was originally founded in 1980 for the sole purpose of rehabilitating injured brown pelicans. We have grown dramatically since then and our facility now receives thousands of injured birds and other native wildlife each year. In 2016, we had a record breaking increase of 26% increase in patients. This means we treated 2,553 patients covering 153 different species of native wildlife. In addition to our specialty of brown pelican and seabirds, we treat raptors, migratory bird species, songbirds, mammals, reptiles and non-migratory birds. We only accept native wildlife so please call us with questions on a particular species. We also are part of a larger network of rehabilitation centers in South Florida and any animal we cannot directly help gets a referral to other local centers.
The animals that we treat are brought to us by concerned citizens, government agencies, humane societies, other wildlife care facilities and our volunteers. We encounter a wide range of injuries in our patients. We deal with everything from botulism poisoning and electrocution to golf ball strikes. However, the vast majority of injuries to the pelicans and other seabirds we treat at our facility are caused by fishing tackle.
*NWRA Quick reference 2nd edition, Erica Miller DVM & Linda Wolf DVM
Each year we reach thousands of students through our education programs. These programs help people understand our work and how they too can make a difference. We believe that education is the key to the future of wildlife. There are over 3.9 million students in Florida, and each of them should be exposed to the concept that every individual can have a positive influence on the environment and conservation. We are available to provide school based presentations and assemblies as well as entertain field trips to our center weekly.
Students aren’t the only people we need to reach. We conduct educational workshops and training sessions for many community groups such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary, National Park Staff, local town Councils, women’s clubs and many others. We also partner with other organizations on projects that seek to protect the environment by educating the public at large.
Please contact us to request a school visit, field trip, community presentation, festival participation and more.
At PHSS we are committed to research that seeks a better understanding of seabirds. Currently, members of our staff have joined with the Shorebird Alliance to help monitor shore bird nesting. Due to the increasing urbanization in South Florida many shore birds have resorted to nesting on rooftops.
In May of 2017, PHSS acquired a bird banding permit as part of the North American Bird Banding Program, sponsored by USGS, the United States Geological Survey. Under this permit our staff bands all Brown pelicans treated and released at our facility. The valuable research done by our team and all members of the Bird Banding Program contributes to our collective knowledge of the movement, survival and behavior of wild birds.
Additionally, PHSS staff does weekly bird surveys of local birds on Bird Key Rookery. Data collected is used to track fluctuations in local populations as well as migratory birds. On average, we record 260 birds of 14 species each week.
Our past research efforts have included serologic profiles (identifying the properties of the blood’s serum) and sexual dimorphism (identifying physical differences in shape between male & female) of Brown Pelicans conducted in conjunction with the University of Miami.
We exist only for the protection of seabirds. Therefore, our research protocols stress the safe and gentle handling of each individual bird. We do not participate in animal testing and all of our research is pre-approved by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFW).