Volunteer Spotlight: mike and theresa pajot
They help set up and take down the humongous car port used for years at Bird TLC’s multiple-vendor event variously called "Bye Bye Birdie", "Autumn Wings", and now "Gone with the Wing". They greet the young visitors to our "Owl-O-Ween" event and help them get more of the icing on the cupcakes and cookies than themselves. They have been caretakers of education birds. They are enduring cheerleaders at any Bird TLC event. And, Mike has been on Bird TLC's education committee since 2009.
It all began in 1996 when Mike and Theresa joined the Saturday rehabilitation clinic crew. Their daughter, Lisa Pajot, had been volunteering with Bird TLC for a few years and was often bringing home birds to care for. One young bird, a Black-capped Chickadee, ended up being added to the education program because her feathers did not grow in properly, though her nest sibling was released successfully. Because the Chickadee resided at their home, they decided to become official volunteers.
The only prior experience they had had with birds was what their daughter, Lisa, “forced” upon them. When they started on the Saturday crew, Theresa began by cleaning mews, doing laundry, caring for baby birds, preparing food, administering medication, and tube-feeding, when necessary. She worked up to handling the small and medium-sized birds. Mike started by cleaning mats and worked up to handling eagles. Eventually, they both started helping to rescue birds, pick up birds from the airport, and releasing birds after completing rehabilitation.
At first, Theresa was concerned about doing everything properly – she notes that there were plenty of seabirds to care for back then. But overall it was always interesting to be at the clinic. Mike found it thrilling to be able to handle the eagles and ravens. The Saturday crew was noted for being consistent and reliable, doing a little of everything - no one person had the same task every week, they were very supportive of each other, and they worked well together. Bird TLC's Founder, Dr. James Scott, came in a lot, too, sometimes just to chat and share stories. Mike and Theresa mentioned that things were less formal and structured back then.
Mike and Theresa also participated with the education program, presenting a Black-Capped Chickadee and two Pine Grosbeaks. They also temporarily housed many birds who were transitioning from rehab to release at a time when the clinic did not have mews large enough for such birds as magpies and small owls to get flight exercise.
They have continued their participation in Bird TLC activities and events due to their interest in the birds. Over the years, they have both come to appreciate just how much is involved in keeping Bird TLC going. They both have had many rewarding experiences and memories. Both agree that the most rewarding part of being volunteers with Bird TLC is seeing the birds heal and be released, as well as having been given the opportunity to be a part of the amazing Saturday crew.
When Bird TLC first moved to the building on Nielson Way which was shared with IBR, it was not up to par - the kitchen was particularly a mess. Both Mike and Theresa found those times challenging and they stress that things were less structured and formal in those days. But, their experiences with Bird TLC have given Theresa a greater awareness and respect for birds and Mike has become more conscious of how humans can affect and hurt birds. They are both in agreement that the volunteers and their dedication are the organization’s greatest strength. Their diverse knowledge and skill base create a strong organization – for the birds!!!
- Bird TLC volunteer Karen Coady