Sherry meets George

On the morning of April 27, 2011, Sherry watched a tornado rip through their backyard. The next day while surveying all the damage, she found a nest on the ground with two baby robins; only one was still alive. She had no idea what to do in the situation, so Sherry seeked advice from vet. They informed her they could not care for wildlife and she needed to find a licensed rehabilitator. In the meantime the baby bird depended on her care, so she took him back home and named him George.

After days of raising George, Sherry was disheartened to learn there weren’t ANY songbird rehabbers in the area. Her only option was to surrender him to the Chattanooga Zoo, where they transferred him to a rehabber. Rescuing and temporarily raising that nestling robin was Sherry’s first up-close opportunity with a songbird, or any baby wildlife. She knew that little bird had inspired her to help other baby birds so she spent the next year reading about songbirds and learning everything she could about them. That research later led her to hear about a licensed raptor rehabilitator in the Chattanooga area, Alix Parks.

Fast forward to late October 2012…a friend of Sherry’s rescued an injured screech owl and so she offered to transport the owl to Alix. She observed Alix as she examined, hydrated, and medicated the screech owl, and then placed him inside a quiet crate with a makeshift nest in a wicker basket. The owl was resting comfortably and his healing had begun thanks to her caring expertise. Witnessing how Alix cared for that small, injured raptor intrigued Sherry and they both kept in touch about the progress of the owl.

About six weeks later, Sherry began her apprenticeship with Alix. Once she achieved the required 200 apprenticeship hours with many of Alix’s wildlife patients, she sent in an application to the TWRA and the US Fish & Wildlife, and was issued a license for all migratory songbirds in the fall of 2014. Sherry is currently the ONLY migratory songbird rehabilitator in the greater Chattanooga area, and one of the two rehabbers specializing in songbirds for the entire state of Tennessee.

As a volunteer, she views the time she dedicates to songbird rehabilitation as a service that God has called her to do. Sherry said, “He has given me this desire and the ability, so I always seek His wisdom to help me learn and acquire the knowledge I need to help these animals. Wildlife rehabilitation is time consuming, financially and emotionally stressful, even heartbreaking at times, but despite the challenges it is a blessing and the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Caring for these songbirds has enriched my life and I could not imagine a day without it!”