Honoring Terry Fontenrose: A Guiding Voice for Birds in Need

Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles volunteer Terry Fontenrose holds an oiled Brown Pelican during a sedated wash. Photo by Ariana Gastelum – International Bird Rescue

As a voice for birds in the times they need help the most, we are pleased to give Terry Fontenrose the Alice Berkner Award, the highest honor earned by an esteemed volunteer, at the upcoming Taking Flight Fall Music Festival this Saturday, November 18. Whether it’s a distressed bird or a call for assistance, Terry is there, providing a compassionate ear and valuable guidance for those who need it.

“The opportunity to serve this organization and make a difference has been life-changing. The idea that we are here to support and sustain these wild birds is where I want to be.” –Terry Fontenrose, award winning volunteer

After working in healthcare management for about 40 years, Terry was looking forward to pursuing her passion to help wild birds. In July 2014, she began volunteering at Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center. Over the years, she’s made an impact assisting technicians in bird care, training new volunteers, and always offering to help out wherever needed.

Not only is Terry a valuable hand in the clinic, she has helped countless people in the Los Angeles community and beyond who are calling the Bird HelpLine, inquiring about birds they’ve found in distress. This role can present unique challenges depending on the bird species, location, and person’s ability to step in if needed.

Giving advice through the Bird HelpLine can present unique challenges depending on the bird species, location, and person’s ability to step in if needed.

“Working the HelpLine has taught me many things: have patience, listening is key, and understanding the problem does not always mean it is solved,” she said. “You have to accept that you cannot possibly help everyone, but you certainly can encourage them to do the right thing.”

During the summer, the busiest season for wildlife rehabbers, Terry received a call about a Mallardand her ducklings overstaying their welcome, messing up their yard, and dirtying their pool. With the goal to move the family to a duck pond down the street, Terry recommended collecting the ducklings in a box and bringing them to the pond, hoping that mom would follow. At the park, Terry advised the caller to wait and see if the ducklings’ calls would alert their mom. After 45 minutes, she came forward, and the family was reunited in their new home in the wild.

By raising awareness and educating the public about bird conservation, Terry has helped create a more informed and compassionate community, fostering a collaborative environment that benefits both the birds and the dedicated rehabbers working to ensure their well-being. We appreciate her for making a difference in the lives of both birds and bird enthusiasts alike.

“The opportunity to serve this organization and make a difference has been life-changing,” Terry said. “The idea that we are here to support and sustain these wild birds is where I want to be.”