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LA 'Songbird Lady' retires

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Volunteer > Jo Ferdinand worked at the SF Raptor Center for 22 years

By Gina Velasquez

A longtime volunteer of the community and lover of songbirds, Jo Ferdinand had her retirement party on Sept. 20 surrounded by family, friends and fellow volunteers.

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Ferdinand worked as a volunteer at the Santa Fe Raptor Center and the Wildlife Center for 22 years where she earned the nickname, “The Songbird Lady.” She has rescued countless injured and orphaned songbirds and nursed them back to health. An injured baby hummingbird was at the retirement party for observation from the rehabilitation team of volunteers.

Ferdinand still has some birds under her care at her home in Los Alamos, but is not personally taking on anymore.

“Jo is an amazing person and the kind of person that really makes a difference in the community,” Raptor Center volunteer Lynne Mann said. “This celebration is to recognize and thank Jo for all she has done.”

Lori Paras, director of the Santa Fe Raptor Center, said Ferdinand has been a volunteer since its opening in 2004.
Ferdinand would take birds from all over northern New Mexico and the treatment depended on the injuries.

“I have taken care of birds that have been hit by cars, trapped in fireplaces and attacked by cats,” Ferdinand said.
The rehabilitation team, which also includes volunteers Carol Taschek and Karla Adkins, always keep in contact with Animal Control. Paras has a transport based in Pojoaque to take the injured birds that are found to the Raptor Center or the Wildlife Center, located in Española.

Ferdinand and her late husband Ed have been a part of the Los Alamos community since 1956. They have three children, Kevin, Jane and Mike, who were all born and raised in Los Alamos. Mike attended the party in honor of his mother’s achievements.

After her husband retired from Los Alamos National Bank, Ferdinand suggested that they volunteer at The Wildlife Center, a wildlife rehabilitation facility that Dr. Kathleen Ramsay (also from Los Alamos) had begun.

The Ferdinands had not had experience in rescue and rehabilitation work with birds, but in 1991, they began the volunteer work that was to become a passion for them both. Jo began rehabilitation work with injured and orphaned songbirds and Ed began to work with “educational” raptors, or birds of prey, that are non-releasable and appear at schools and other public venues, with their handlers, for educational programs.

In 2004, The Santa Fe Raptor Center began, focusing all efforts on the rescue and rehabilitation of New Mexico’s native wild birds.

“Jo and Ed joined the group of volunteers, and immediately became invaluable,” Mann said.
Ferdinand took charge of the songbird rescue program in 2004 and has been accomplishing songbird rehabilitation ever since.

Ferdinand’s talent with raising featherless baby songbirds, tube feeding them every few hours, is one of her many accomplishments.

Ferdinand has successfully wintered over hummingbirds and hatched songbird eggs in an incubator. In fact, Ferdinand said she makes her own incubators.

“Jo Ferdinand’s loving, giving spirit and her tireless dedication to her work has returned more than 1,700 songbirds back into the wild,” Mann said.

“You may be looking around your yard today and enjoying a bird that Jo’s efforts saved.”

Because of Ferdinand’s departure, the Santa Fe Raptor Center is in need of volunteers. For more information on how to volunteer, call 662-7418.