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MARS Moment: Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society’s Merville Visitor Centre set to reopen

By Jane Sproull Thomson
A Stellar’s jay chick was brought into the MARS hospital after an attack from a cat. Photo supplied.

By Jane Sproull Thomson

Special to Black Press

We have good news for all you Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) supporters out there: our plan is to reopen the Visitor Centre on Friday, June 17.

The reopening follows another pandemic shutdown for the Visitor Centre, although the hospital always remains open. You can reserve a tour spot through our website or drop in Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Please check our website ( before coming out.

New exhibit

We are opening with a brand-new exhibit! Be a Rehabber for a Day will take you through the experience of treating an injured eagle as though you were a caregiver working at the MARS Hospital. We have received enthusiastic reviews from our test audiences, so bring your future and armchair veterinarians along and try it out at 1331 Williams Beach Road, Merville on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Spring is baby season

Baby season is in full swing at the hospital and staff are very busy caring for chicks, kits, fawns and other assorted wild young ’uns. A few of these turn out to be kidnap victims, so here’s a little reminder that a fledgling on the ground may not be able to fly just yet, but if you stand back and watch, you may see ‘mum or dad’ bringing it a snack. With this casual parenting, the little one will soon be on its way, so please don’t be too hasty with a ‘rescue.’

Other kidnap victims beginning to make an appearance at the hospital are young fawns. There are still some animal lovers out there who don’t know that mother deer often leave their young to nap while they browse nearby. You may not see mum because she’ll be avoiding humans, but she’s out there, and counting on the fawn’s camouflage to keep it safe while she feeds. As with fledgling chicks, stand back and give it time, and you may find all is well. Same thing goes for baby seals – mum often leaves them on the beach to nap while she forages in the water.

Mind your pets

Keeping your cats indoors and dogs on a leash, particularly during this critical time for young wildlife, will prevent a lot of the injuries and deaths that are so distressing to us all. If you need further inspiration to build that ‘catio’, just have a look at this adorable photo of a Stellar’s jay chick which was brought into the hospital last week following a cat attack. It’s now recovering from its injuries with a lot of TLC from our dedicated caregivers.

For some great local wildlife information, photos and videos, check out our Facebook page or website at

Jane Sproull Thomson is a volunteer at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society