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Beaks relies solely on individual and corporate donations.  We need your donations in order to be able to continue saving the wild birds.

Donate To BEAKS Now Through!

The busiest season for bird care is here and Beaks is facing a terrible crisis.  Due to our limited resources at the moment, we are only able to continue operating on a day to day basis as we struggle to cover our expenses.

Your donation would help immensely!  We need your help to continue doing our work to help the injured and orphaned wild birds.   No amount is ever too small to save a baby bird!

Please make a charitable and tax deductible donation to BEAKS today!

Click here to donate to BEAKS

The donation system runs through our Charity account at It is a safe and secure online donation system. All of your donations are directed to BEAKS and our bird card programs.

We appreciate and are very grateful for your support.

Mohawk the Starling—Contact Across the Veil — by Sean Arthur Joyce


1. Mohawk the Starling Gets Personal

Today I met Mohawk the Starling.* He lives—for now—at Carol Pettigrew’s BEAKS (Bird Emergency and Kare Society) in a small neighbourhood known as Blueberry, just steps away from the banks of the Columbia River near Castlegar, BC. He was brought to the shelter by caring people when they discovered Mohawk’s mother had died. So they brought him and his siblings to Carol—an extremely lucky break for these birds. Shortly after the starlings were released, Mohawk—named for the stripe on his head when he was brought in—returned to the shelter and has remained there since. Mohawk the Starling has become the BEAKS ambassador, and a more effective PR agent could hardly be imagined.

Anne and I were invited to step into the tiny room where smaller injured birds recover—a robin, siskins, an evening grosbeak, a snow bunting, a violet-green swallow. And Chester the Robin—more about him later. ** (see Part 2) I took my hat off at Carol’s request as apparently this can upset them. Right away Mohawk flew to Carol and landed on her shoulder, chattering excitedly at her ear. He flew between her shoulder and his perch a few times. But then he landed on my forearm and began chattering at me. At first I found the sensation of the bird’s feet on my bare arm a bit disconcerting. But I knew instinctively the thing to do was remain still and not give in to fear. When Mohawk began ‘preening’ me, or prospecting for bugs in the folds of my shirt and in my glasses case, I had to master the urge to flinch.

As if sensing that I was safe, Mohawk stayed on my arm, sometimes moving to my shoulder to prospect behind my ears, but always staying close. And the excited chatter! It was as if a small child, suddenly realizing it has someone eager to listen to its tale, talks non-stop, telling its story freely and openly. And the sheer range of vocalizations! Carol said Mohawk is so smart that “what he hears today he’ll repeat tomorrow.” And he did indeed make a sound that was suspiciously like Carol’s laugh. She tells me he even says “ridiculous,” a favourite expression of hers.

After a short time Mohawk and I were on intimate terms and he looked right into my eyes as he chattered and sang. We played a game—he would make a sound, I would imitate it, then he’d make a different sound and I’d imitate that, as if he were testing me. Then the game was reversed and I made clicking sounds or birdlike whistles, waiting for him to imitate. He wasn’t quite as fast a learner as I am but I could hear him getting some first drafts pretty close. As a writer and aspiring musician I can tell you that’s pretty damn good. As Carol reminded me again, Mohawk will have it down by this time tomorrow.

I wish I’d had the foresight to bring my digital recorder because I can hardly begin to describe the range of sounds this bird made. Some were typically birdlike trills and snatches of whistling song. Yet other sounds were inexplicable in a bird of this kind. A purring sound. Guttural sounds rolled like pebbles in the throat. A sound something like a cross between a baby bird and a kitten. Snatches of words he’s picked up from his human caregivers, words I couldn’t quite make out, or that had yet to fully form. Corvid biologist John Marzluff, in his book Gifts of the Crow, writes: “When we overhear crows singing softly to themselves, we wonder if they derive pleasure simply by listening to the sounds they can make. So much of what we hear from crows or ravens is inexplicable. They ring like bells, drip like water, and have precise rhythm. They sing alone or in great symphonies. Some of their noise could be music.” It’s possible exceptional birds like Mohawk are doing the same.

I began to realize that this bird was not about to let me leave easily. His attention span was concentrated, focused on me. He might shift position, from one arm to the other, or to my shoulders for a quick reconnaissance of my ears. But always he came back to looking up at me and continuing his dialogue. I kept my body still throughout, partly of course to avoid stepping on injured birds unable to fly yet. But mostly I wanted this amazing moment not to end. I wanted Mohawk to know that he was safe; he was heard. And did he ever know it!

I had found a friend. I only felt guilty that I would very soon have to leave him. I joked that he was trying to adopt me. That he was telling me the whole story of his mother’s death, his siblings alone and hungry, of the kind people who rescued them, of getting to know Carol over the past winter. An audience! Exactly what any storyteller wants—needs, even. But was it a joke? Or was he in fact reaching across the veil that normally separates us from the animal world?

I’ve often wondered these days if animals aren’t reaching out to us. And reaching across other species barriers to cooperate. Almost every day on the Internet someone posts a video or a Facebook entry about animals who are normally enemies forming friendships. Like the crow who became playmate to a kitten, rolling and tumbling together in the grass. The two became inseparable. And like the doe who saw me looking at her through my window and came over to the house to ask for a treat. I’d been putting out some of my old apples from last year’s harvest so they wouldn’t eat the birdseed. That deer knew immediately, not only was I no threat, I’d feed her.

It’s as if birds and animals are sensing that our world is in a critical situation right now. And saying to us: ‘We’re not so different, you and I. We have families. We struggle to survive day after day, as you do. We have feelings. Some of us even feel grief when one of us dies. Can’t we get together to save our world?’ Just as author Marta Williams says in Learning Their Language—Intuitive Communication with Animals and Nature: “The Hopi prophecies for our time suggested that if people could experience a shift in consciousness and reconnect with animals, nature, and spirit, much of the predicted destruction could be avoided.”

We are at last breaking the falsehood of animals and birds as Creation’s automatons, the Cartesian duality that sundered us so tragically from Nature. It stands to reason that every creature on this Earth carries in its bones the wisdom of thousands of years of evolution and experience. We too as humans are not just in the environment, we are the environment. When we grow up in a certain landscape it becomes a part of us. Even if we don’t live there still, it remains with us. In order to function in a material world, creatures need a nervous system to warn of pain, give us cues for eating, drinking, etc. In other words, that creature must feel in order to survive. And while there are differing levels of feeling just as of intelligence, the fact is that animals and birds are feeling—and intelligent—creatures with us in this world.

And so it pained me to have to leave Mohawk. Yet I know that even Carol will have to say goodbye to him too. Just as she has had to do hundreds of times in her decades of caring for injured birds. “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” Shakespeare wrote, and death is part of life. We have to learn to let go or we suffer, we remain trapped. The last thing I want is a bird trapped in a cage—neither a literal one nor my spirit trapped in a cage of my own making. As the Buddhists say, the condition of being is suffering. To fight against that fact is pointless. If only I had the decades of spiritual practice to fully absorb that spiritual gem. But I’m working on it….


*Starlings are not native to North America—they were introduced by well meaning Europeans to New York City in the 1890s. They have since spread across the continent. Always a dangerous strategy, introducing non-native species often leads to them becoming invasive species that can decimate an environment and cause other species to decline.


Thank You Total Pet!

BEAKS wants to mention how very grateful we are to Total Pet in Castlegar, BC, Kris and his staff, who have responded to our need for help with such compassion and generosity.  Kris has gone above and beyond to help us.

BEAKS can continue to save the injured and orphaned wild birds only because of the ongoing support we receive from people like you. Offering a simple “Thank You” for your help never quite feels like it’s enough to us, because what you’ve done is “You Have Given BEAKS its Wings”!!!

The best we can do is tell Total Pet, Kris and his staff how much we appreciate their continued support. We hope we can continue to demonstrate to you that Beaks values your support and that you have our deepest thanks for helping us bring help and hope to our feathered friends.

With sincere appreciation,
From the staff and birds at BEAKS

Donations and Recycling

With spring just around the corner Beaks is going to need continuous support and donations to help the injured and orphaned birds.  Please consider donating so Beaks can continue the great work that they do.  No donation is too small to save a bird <3

One way you can donate is through your recycling.  Cash in your cans and bottles.

For our friends in the Kootenays, you can now recycle your cans and bottles for Beaks Birds at Total Pet in Castlegar, BC  9am-6pm Mondays to Saturdays and 10am-5pm Sundays
Monetary donations can be mailed to 318 – 103rd Street, Castlegar, BC, Canada, V1N 3G2 or here online through this website.  Just go to our donation page:

We want to say how much we are grateful and appreciate your continuous support.  Supporting BEAKS is one of the most direct ways to improve the lives of our injured and orphaned wild birds.  ♥

Beaks Needs Your Donation

Beaks is struggling to cover its expenses. Due to our limited resources, we will only be able to continue operating on a week to week basis until we find more funding.

Please make a charitable and tax deductible donation to BEAKS today!

Click here to donate to BEAKS

The donation system runs through our Charity account at It is a safe and secure online donation system. All of your donations are directed to BEAKS and our bird card programs. Thank you so much.

Read about all the great things we accomplished in 2012 here:


About Our Birds

What kinds of birds does BEAKS help?

BEAKS will accept any bird and has cared for everything from a hummingbird to a goose, in fact, 35 different species in 1998 alone. Birds of prey and other large birds are referred to other facilites specially designed for their care such as OWL and Wildlife Rescue Association.

Where do they come from?

The West Kootenay region of British Columbia, Canada. Some are orphaned nestlings, many are injured by cats or by hitting windows or being hit by cars.

How long do they stay?

Usually 3 to 5 weeks though sometimes months.

What does it cost us?

Between $125 and $250 per bird for food, vitamins and medication.

What do they eat?

Mealworms (by the thousands), crickets, seeds and liquid food supplements are purchased. Fruits are often donated (domestic apples, grapes, pears, cherries, currants and oranges). Chokecherries as well as elder and mountain ash berries are harvested from the wild. Other nuts, unsalted peanut butter and grains are also used to ensure that they are given the most rounded and healthy diet possible.

How can I help?

We’re always looking for volunteers who love animals and specifically birds. We also provide tax recipts for donations.

Call us at:
(250) 365-3701

Email us at:

You can find us at:
318 – 103rd. Street,
Castlegar, B.C.
V1N 3G2