Earlier this month a local Miami wildlife rehabilitation center released a rare Great White Heron, its tenth in nearly four decades, after nursing it back to health.

Yaritza Acosta, a manager at the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, said the rare heron was found in Key Biscayne, wet and unable to stand with a bloody right wing. Acosta said Great White Herons are often misidentified as Great Egrets, which are far more common and widespread throughout Florida and the rest of the southern United States.

Executive Director Christopher Boykin said only 10 Great White Herons have been admitted to the station in 39 years. In that time, the station has cared for more than 30,000 birds.

“[Great White Herons] like pristine habitats, unlike the Blue Herons,” he said.

By Kathleen Blaine Stebbins
South Florida News Service
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The heron was transported by Uber from Crandon Park earlier on May 8, and was released at Pelican Harbor about a week later, said Boykin.

“Twenty-five percent of our patients come to us through Uber,” said Boykin. “If the bird is contained in a box, we send for an Uber. It cuts the response time in half, which helps keep our clinic staff focused on continued care and not being dispatched for pickups.”

The facility has federal and state permits allowing them to keep birds for rehabilitation for up to 180 days, though most typically stay one to two months. Boykin said once the animals are cleared medically, they will be released within 72 hours.

Two of the latest patients, orphaned nestling Eastern Screech Owls, have required $1,680 dollars in care since arriving in May, while care for the heron was $260. Boykin said the station is currently creating habitats for the owls and future patients to use.

Pelican Harbor Seabird Station is a non-profit entirely dependent on donations. They are the only bird wildlife rescue in the Miami area. According to its website, the station, on the 79th Street Causeway, has cared for urban wildlife in the South Florida area since opening its doors in 1980. It grew from a single houseboat at the Pelican Harbor Marina to its current operations on land that was donated by the Miami-Dade Parks Department in 1992.

The station has 40 volunteers, that work a combined 10,000 hours a year, and three full-time clinic staff members.  For more information or to donate, check out station’s website.

Christopher Boykin, executive director, with one of the baby Eastern Screech Owls (Photo by: Kathleen Blaine Stebbins)

Christopher Boykin, executive director, with one of the baby Eastern Screech Owls (Photo by: Kathleen Blaine Stebbins)