The Need

In 2005 Mary Ellen Rogers moved to Oak Island, NC, and determined that there was no facility caring for the local shorebirds that get hooked or netted or otherwise injured or orphaned. She had been volunteering for years at the SC Center for Birds of Prey. To gain additional shorebird experience, she volunteered at the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter. She received and still holds the necessary state and US wildlife permits for the wild birds that are sheltered at SB. In 2007 she began to convert the basement and backyard of her small beach house into a wild bird clinic/shelter. The upstairs remains her home. Because there were no other facilities for birds within 100 miles at that time, the shelter quickly filled up. Since the second year of operation, new arrivals have exceeded 350 shorebirds and raptors annually. SB has undergone expansion over the years as conditions changed. All of the expansion has been funded by local grants or donations of funds, labor and materials by local supporters.

Facilities

Sea Biscuit is located at 1638 East Beach Road, Oak Island, NC. It is 250-300 ft. from the Atlantic Ocean. The facility acts as a hospital, recovery and rehabilitation center. SB is not open to the public in order to safeguard the animals from unnecessary disturbance and noise.The Clinic Area is a converted two-bedroom basement apartment. The Rehabilitation Area occupies the backyard. There are specific federal regulations and requirements that different species of birds be maintained in isolation from others in their own enclosures. Enclosure sizes are regulated by permit, to insure safety and safe recovery.

Scope of Operations

There are 350-400 new arrivals each year including about 70 different species. All arrivals are examined and a course of care or referral is initiated. Some birds recover within a few days, but for others rehabilitation may take weeks or months before they can be released or transferred. Since its' inception Sea Biscuit has seen over 2800 new arrivals.

Birds come in for a variety of reasons, including: 

  • Unavailability of food sources or simple exhaustion during migration.

  • Storms during migration causing birds to be blown off course

  • Severe cold causing frostbitten feet

  • Predator attacks on molting water birds that cannot fly

  • Attacks by cats, dogs, other mammals

  • Automobile, boat and window strikes

  • Fishing gear entanglement

  • Shotgun wounds and other deliberate human injuries

  • Orphaned baby and juvenile birds

Many birds arrive because the community is aware of the Shelter’s existence and mission. People who find an injured or orphaned bird may call the Shelter directly or may first contact the local police or animal control department who refer them to the Shelter. Police, animal control officers, and park rangers often find and bring injured birds. There are also referrals from other wildlife shelters.

Education Mission

While the Mission Statement of Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter emphasizes rescue, rehabilitation and release, another part of the mission is education. To that end, four education birds are in residence at the shelter. Neither Tim the pelican nor Scarlet the red tailed hawk or Shadow the barred owl or Lusby the fish crow (latest resident) can be released into the wild because of eye and wing injuries. Yet these birds serve a wonderful function within the human community as education birds, teaching about  their habits and foods and place in the environment, as well as how to prevent injuries to birds and how to help an injured bird. Sea Biscuit has separate permits from the federal government that allow these birds to remain in captivity.

To maintain its status as an education bird,  Tim, Scarlet and Shadow participate in at least twelve programs annually. In 2014 Sea Biscuit conducted 39 educational outreach programs at Schools (elementary, middle, high schools, college), Organizations (Scouting, Audubon Society), Museums, Aquariums.

SB relies on community donations as well as organizational grants for specific projects. Several environmental and animal rescue organizations supply direct financial grants and donations. Currently there are no corporate sponsors. 

Staff

There are no paid employees. The director has developed a successful on-going staff of dedicated and passionate volunteers, including:

  • Director

  • Five Board members - Treasurer, Secretary,  2 Members-at-Large

  • Clinic Volunteers – 14 trained in rehabilitation and recovery working 3-4 hours daily

  • Veterinarians (professional) – 2 working over 200 hours a year in total

  • Transport – 15 who pick up/deliver birds in the large local geographical area

  • Food – 20-25 who provide fish seasonally

  • Other – A variety of ‘go to’ people who provide various assistance such as maintenance, repair, labor, community support

The Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter has special wildlife rehabilitation
permits required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
the State of North Carolina in order to keep wild animals in captivity.
Staff Members have years of experience and attend annual continuing education classes and conferences to ensure our patients the best care.

Volunteers are trained to handle patients, see to their
diets and clean and monitor them daily.
 The shelter also partners with the North Carolina State University Veterinary School to research rehabilitation techniques and
give veterinary students hands on experience.

Our staff and volunteers participate in local events to educate the public about common wildlife injuries and how to help prevent them.