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The following article about Hanna and Artie Richard appeared in the July 13, 1980 Daily News.



Her Home Is a Nest for Injured Birds

by Eric V. Copage

A bird died in Brooklyn, ironically while someone was trying to save its life.The bird, a baby kestrel falcon, was found in Bedford-Styvesant by a 19-year-old man. The young man, thinking the falcon had a broken wing, took the bird to a vet. The vet fixed the wing and told the man how to care for the bird. But once the man took the bird to his Bed-Stuy apartment, he found that the bird wouldn’t eat. The man called the Audubon Society, and was told where to take the bird.

But it was too late. The magnificent blue-winged falcon died on a city bus as the young man was bringing it to Hanna Richard, a bird expert licensed by the state and federal governments to rehabilitate injured birds.

Might Have Been Saved

"That bird might been saved had the young man been given the proper information," said Richard, a 44-year-old Gerritsen Beach resident who has been involved with bird rehabilitation for seven years. "At first, the young man was told by a vet to give the bird bread and water

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The bird didn’t touch the food because its natural diet is insects and rodents. It’s amazing the bird lasted the seven days that it did."

Hanna rehabilitates birds on a voluntary basis, in addition to her chores as a housewife The golden-haired mother is not a veterinarian although she works closely with two vets. She estimated that she has attended to more than 400 birds since she became a licensed bird rehabilitator 3½ years ago.

"The license means that I can rehabilitate federally and state-protected birds," Hanna said. "That would include things like diagnosing and setting broken wings or legs." Hanna has found broken birds in her bird-watching forays and through referrals by the ASPCA and the Audubon Society.

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Hanna shares a homey, two bedroom bungalow with her husband, Artie, who also participates in his wife’s "hobby." The bungalow, located on a man-made canal, bulges with mementos of their love of wildlife. The walls are full of decoupages of birds of prey and ceramic owls, her favorite fowl

Scores of books on insects, wildflowers, trees, and birds make the bookshelves sag. Two of the bird books on that shelf were written by a Jamaica widow named Arline Thomas, a bird rehabilitator in Queens.

According to Hanna, Thomas, who has been helping birds heal for the past 25 years, was a major inspiration in her decision to work out with birds.

"I started out as a bird watcher," Hanna said. "Since I love animals, I would take injured birds home until they healed, that is, until I found out it was illegal. Arline, who was a licensed bird rehabilitator, and I belonged to the same bird club. She invited me to come to work with her and I became taken with what she did. Later I decided to get a license myself."

Artie, a 45-year-old dispatcher for the Transit Authority, said the aviary they built on the back porch virtually bristles with feathers during the nesting season, from late May to mid-August, and during the migration season from September to mid-November. During the spring, he said, many birds are the victims of what he called "premature rescues."

"Sometimes a bird has been pushed out of an overcrowded nest, and not hurt," said Artie, whose hobby is wildlife photography. "When you find a young bird, first try to find the nest. If the bird is a fledgling the nest should not be too far away."

Hanna said that it is a mistaken belief that a mother bird will not feed her chick if the chick has been touched by human hands. She said there is "definitely no need" to worry about an irate mother swooping down on you like she’s on loan from Hitchcock’s "The Birds."

"The bird is trying to intimidate you, and to scare you away from the chick, not hurt you." Hanna said, She said if you have a chick in hand and its parent swoops at you, put the bird down and walk away.

Artie, who was born and raised in Gerritsen Beach, said that if you cannot find the nest, put the bird on a branch or a high place and wait. "If the bird’s parents are around you probably won’t have to wait more than an hour. But don’t put the bird up if there are dogs or cats around, or if kids are playing in the vicinity," he said.

"If the parent doesn’t show up, take the bird and put it in a cardboard box or a paper bag. Never use a cage or screened-in box. The bird may try to take flight and damage its flight feathers or bang up its beak in the process.

"After the bird is in the box any kind of canned dog food will do for food for the time being to prevent it from starving to death," Artie said, "Never force water or any kind of liquid on the bird. It gets enough moisture from food. If you force liquids on the bird you could kill it." He said you should then call the ASPCA (212) TR 6-7700, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (212) 474-0613, or the Audubon Society (212) 832-3200, as soon as possible.


Last edited on July 09, 2002