I am Ellen Kalish, Founder and Executive Director of Ravensbeard Wildlife Center.
Ravensbeard provides wildlife rehabilitation for injured and orphaned animals in Ulster, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, Dutchess, Greene and Columbia counties to return them to the wild. We promote community awareness, education and appreciation for the natural circle of life, offering a hands-on opportunity to work with many species within the animal kingdom to experience their true nature. Through these endeavors, Ravensbeard hopes to foster a community dedicated to the cause of mutual respect and loving-kindness.
We are a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 and operate entirely on donations from our generous community –that’s all of you.
We are looking to purchase the property of Van Buskirk Road in Saugerties to be our forever home and emergency clinic for wildlife.
A little history:
- 2000: I received my rehabilitation license in 2000 with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and was Federally licensed through the US Fish & Wildlife Service in 2002 to work with migratory birds. Ravensbeard began on Turkey Point Road in Saugerties, where we obtained a special-use permit for the property.
- 2012-2020: I served on the NYS Wildlife Rehabilitation Council Board and worked to inform, educate, support fieldwork and promote conservation.
- 2017: we received the Ginsberg Stewardship Award from the Woodstock Nature Conservancy.
- 2019: I received an Appreciation Award from the Catskill Exotic Bird Club
- 2020: I rescued “Rocky,” a little saw-whet owl, from the most famous Christmas Tree in the World, Rockefeller Center in NYC. We released her just eight days later.
- 2021 - We released a children’s book called The Christmas Owl by Gideon Sterer and myself, which made the NY Times Best Seller list!
AND, this year, 2022 - we are the inspiration for the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce, Summer Owl Street Art! Statues designed by local artists (and inspired by Rocky) will be auctioned off this September to help us raise funds for our forever home. We hope you all enjoy the art all summer!
Why are we important?
- Bird populations are declining around the world.
- A record number of birds are injured and orphaned due to climate change, human intervention and urban sprawl.
- Birds are vital as pollinators, predators, grazers, seed, and insect eaters. They are also crucial consumers of aquatic invertebrates, fish, and carrion— which is paramount as prey animals and insects increase.
- By 2100, up to 14 percent of all bird species may become extinct. And 7-25 percent (28-56 percent on oceanic islands) may become "functionally extinct." It means that the number of individuals within these species will become so low that the species will no longer play an essential role in their ecosystem. The impact of losing a single bird species is felt locally, nationally and globally (Ana Luz Porzecanski, Center for Biodiversity).
Ravensbeard has no corporate donors and no alliance with any political or social groups. We are all volunteers, and no one has an income— even the executive director.
Ravensbeard is not a zoo and will not be open to the public. We have educational birds of prey programs off-site at schools, libraries, senior centers, Scouts, and State and County Fairs, where we educate the community about the environment, the interconnectedness of all life, and the reliance on each other for long-term survival. The birds used for educational programs cannot be released due to injuries that would be fatal if left in the wild. They have become ambassadors in wildlife education. I also work part-time at the Ashokan Center as an outdoor educator.
Why We Are Fundraising Now:
- We have obtained a license to operate out of our new and improved (forever) home at 131 Van Buskirk Road in Saugerties. Now we need to raise funds to complete the purchase of this property and move in the summer of 2022.
- The lower level of the house will become Ravensbeard Clinic. We will house the orphaned, wounded and sick wildlife in a bank of kennel cages to keep them warm, dry and quiet while they heal.
- We will need to set up an office area for patient intake.
- We will build 8 additional high-quality avian enclosures to allow room to house and rehabilitate injured/educational resident birds.
- We've taken in over 600 birds in the last two years and expect to take in many more this year. We are operating in a temporary space and are in serious need of a permanent space to house and rehabilitate the growing amount of wildlife we care for yearly.
- We must remain on-call for wildlife emergencies 24/7, including funds to cover travel, as 50% of our wildlife is picked up by our team of 3-5 volunteers.
For 22 years, Ravensbeard Wildlife has worked relentlessly to foster community in the Saugerties area and to protect its animals. Now, more than ever, our work is crucial. We believe every living being deserves a second chance at life. We love the Hudson Valley and hope to continue our work for many years to come, but it only can happen through the ongoing generosity of others. We hope you will support us in our goal to raise enough funds to move into our new home.
Thank you all!