Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfishers are stocky, large-headed birds with a shaggy crest on the top and back of the head and a straight, thick, pointed bill. Their legs are short and their tails are medium length and square-tipped.

Red Winged-Blackbird

A stocky, broad-shouldered blackbird with a slender, conical bill and a medium-length tail. Red-winged Blackbirds often show a hump-backed silhouette while perched; males often sit with tail slightly flared.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

A handsome chickadee that matches the rich brown bark of the coastal trees it lives among, the Chestnut-backed Chickadee is the species to look for up and down the West Coast and in the Pacific Northwest.

Job opportunities at Mars

Wildlife Education Assistant – $15/hour
Full-time, temporary (May-September)
Thursdays through Mondays, 8 hours/day
4 positions available …

The Rehabilitation Program​

Thanks to a very generous MARS supporter, we have received the rest of the funds needed to complete the Flight Cage. This is an essential step in the rehabbing of raptors and … 

Important Press Release

There are at least three times a year (Canada Day, Halloween and New Year’s Eve) where we have accepted a practice of setting off fireworks as a form of celebration and …

BC_GOV-LOGO-Greyscale
WesternForest_Logo-Greyscale
STRAT-Regional-LOGO-Greyscale
marine-harvest-LOGO-greyscale

We’re Nothing Without You!

Thank you to all our generous donors who support MARS through sponsorship, in kind and cash donations to ensure we are always there for the wildlife that need us.

A Proud Member Of WRNBC

MARS is proud to be a member of the Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Network of British Columbia (WRNBC) and we would like to encourage all organizations who work with wildlife within British Columbia to become members of this Network. Show your support by becoming a lifetime member. There is strength in numbers; let the network become the voice that can work for you. Please visit the WRNBC website for more information about what to 

wrn_logo-greyscale

Connect With Us

1331 Williams Beach Road

P.O. Box 415

Merville, BC V0R 2M0

Get in Touch 

Tell us what’s on your mind!

 

Hours of Opporation

Visitor Center:
Thursday to Sunday
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Office: (778) 428-1990
Gift Shop: (778) 428-2000

HOSPITAL:
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily.

Day Phone: (250) 337-2021
After Hours: (250) 897-2257

News8_480

Wildlife Education Assistant, Full-time, temporary (May-September).

Thursdays through Mondays, 8 hours/day. 4 positions available at $15/hour.

Open until filled

Our mission statement

to conserve and protect wildlife and its natural habitat through wildlife rehabilitation and education. Since moving to our new location in 2017, MARS has treated over 2400 animals, including raptors, songbirds, raccoons, and fawns.

The MARS Visitor Centre was built to complement our mission statement, and officially opened in June 2019. It features displays, interactive exhibits, a children’s play area, an animal-themed gift shop, and an outdoor wildlife viewing area.

4

Positions Available

Get-Involved-4_480

Volunteer*

If you have some time to give or expertise to share, MARS might be the perfect place to start. Membership is required and on-site Volunteers must be 19 years old.

The first step is super simple. Just fill in your name, email address and write a short sentence telling us something about yourself and one of our volunteers will be in touch with you.

Help Us

Sign up to Volunteer

News11_480

Important

There are at least three times a year (Canada Day, Halloween and New Year’s Eve) where we have accepted a practice of setting off fireworks as a form of celebration and entertainment.

Warren Warttig, RPBio

Probably the most infamous example of massive bird deaths after a fireworks display were when greater than 5,000 dead or dying red-winged blackbirds were found on the ground in the morning in the small Arkansas town of Beebe in 2010.

There is a detrimental effect on wildlife. Research studies have shown that the loud sounds of fireworks do have an adverse effect on wild animals as well as domestic animals. In a recent study in the Netherlands, they found that roosting birds simultaneously exploded into the night skies in utter panic which can lead to high numbers of deaths, due to the birds flying into trees, fences, billboards, houses and other objects they could not see.

Fireworks

Learn how to Help

Book-A-Bird

If you’re an educator, community outreach group or organization putting on an event and you would like to have MARS ambassador birds attend please fill out the short form below.
Tell us when and where you would like us to be and a MARS volunteer will be in touch.

Ambassadors

Part of the MARS mission is to spread the word about the protection and preservation of wildlife and habitats on northern Vancouver Island and so we love it when the public — particularly young people — can experience our majestic eagles, hawks and owls up close and personal!

MARS_Flight-pen-5x3

Integral Step in the

The flight cage is due for completion in April  2020 by BP2 Construction and My Tech Guys Courtenay.

Thank you

to a very generous MARS supporter, we have received the rest of the funds needed to complete the Flight Cage. This is an essential step in the rehabbing of raptors and other large birds who require quite a significant area to strengthen and condition before being released.

With huge wing spans, they need plenty of room to practice flying and maintaining flight before they are strong enough to go back to the wild. In the past we have had to transport these birds down Island to a facility with an appropriately sized cage. This is quite traumatic for the recovering patients and causes added stress to the already stressful situation of being in captivity. Now we will be able to see these birds through the complete rehabilitation process.

Flight-Center

Sign up for updates

Our-Team3_480

Joan Hine

Bird Caregiver/Data Entry

“My main reason for volunteering? To lend my time in return for an amazing learning opportunity and experience – if you can get past the swan poop!”

Our-Team2_480

Coral Taylor

Animal & Bird Caregiver

“I’ve always been close to nature. To give something back this way…it changes you.”

Our-Team1_480

Allison Morrison

Volunteer

“I’ve been involved in wildlife rescue for many years, since childhood really. My understanding of wildlife and their importance in a healthy ecosystem has increased exponentially.”

Our-Team7_480

Pearl Mackenzie

Vice-President

“Volunteering at MARS has added purpose to my life and a community of people who share my values. We have a responsibility to conserve wildlife and habitat.”

Our-Team5_480

Warren Warttig

President

“Why do I volunteer at MARS? To give wildlife a hand and to equalize human impacts. It is a purpose bigger than me.”

MARS_Ambassador-5x3

Ambassador Birds in the

At MARS Wildlife Rescue is to conserve and protect native wildlife and its natural habitat through education and rehabilitation.

Our ambassador birds are not pets, and a respectful distance is suggested.

Our goal

is always to release sick or injured animals into the wild after they have recovered, but that isn’t always possible. For various reasons, our Ambassadors are permanent residents of MARS. They travel to classrooms and the wider community with a volunteer bird handler to act as “spokesbirds” for all wildlife.

Our birds and handlers have met the public at events such as Eagle Fest in Campbell River and the Shellfish Festival in Comox and have visited many classrooms around this part of Vancouver Island. Bird handlers share the life story of their specific bird while it sits on their glove, secured with thin leather straps called jesses. Together they educate the audience about bird anatomy, behavior, and habitat, and explain threats to their survival.

Learn

with our ambassadors

Our-Team9_480

Magali Vanderveken

Volunteer Intern

“I wanted to help wildlife and do something different. This is a special place and an opportunity for me to make a difference.”

MARS_Visitors-Centre-5x3

Volunteer*

The first step is super simple. Just fill in your name, email address and write a short sentence telling us something about yourself and one of our volunteers will be in touch with you.

If you have some time to give or expertise to share, MARS might be the perfect place to start. Membership is required.

Help Us

Sign up to Volunteer

Support MARS by buying

It’s time for our annual raffle!  Purchase your tickets below for your chance to win.

Eligibility Confirmation*

You must be 19 years of age or older, and you must be within the Province of British Columbia when you place your order.

The prize draw will be held at Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens 6183 Whittaker Rd., Courtenay BC on Monday, September 7th, 2020 at 3:00 pm. Winners consent to release of their names by licensee.

2093

TICKETS LEFT OUT OF 2500

News1_480

MARS Visitor Centre is

The MARS wildlife hospital remains open; staff and volunteers will be here every day to take care of the animals.

Please take care of yourselves and stay well.

UPDATE from MARS Board of Directors:

MARS’ Visitor Centre is now closed in response to the COVID – 19 (Corona Virus) pandemic. We will continue to monitor recommendations from our local health authorities and look forward to reopening to the public when it is safe to do so.

At this time of the year MARS’ volunteers would normally be out in the community raising money for the upcoming “baby” season, e.g. selling raffle tickets, garage sales, special events, etc. to care for fawns, baby birds and baby mammals. Our fundraising activities are now severely limited and we will no longer have revenue from the visitor centre. We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone but any financial support you can spare to maintain our wildlife rescue and rehabilitation program would be very much appreciated.

Sorry

Sign up for updates

News3_480

Annual Garage Sale is

If you have any items to donate please call Lynda at 250-331-2627 for drop off info.

Event Canceled*

Due to Covid-19, look for our event in the future. Keep your families safe.

The event was to be Saturday, April 25th, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Merville Hall on the corner of Fenwick Rd, and Highway 19a.

Sorry

Sign up for updates

Our-Team6_480

Dianne Pollock

Special Events Committee

“I volunteer at MARS to share my passion with the public on the importance of conserving habitat and protecting the wildlife in our beautiful area.”

Our-Team4_480

Lynda Hodgkinson

Special Events Committee

“Although physical limitations prevent me from being a caregiver any longer, I have taken on other duties at MARS … But now I feel I am fulfilling an important role in other ways.”

Make A Donation

If you’re an educator, community outreach group or organization putting on an event and you would like to have MARS ambassador birds attend please fill out the short form below.
Tell us when and where you would like us to be and a MARS volunteer will be in touch.

Donate today

If you have some time to give or expertise to share, MARS might be the perfect place to start. Membership is required and on-site Volunteers must be 19 years old.

The first step is super simple. Just fill in your name, email address and write a short sentence telling us something about yourself and one of our volunteers will be in touch with you.

Our-Birds8_480

Otus

Western Screech Owl

Cool facts

The western screech owl makes a series of hollow toots. They can take prey bigger than its own body. Their diet includes bats, insects and earthworms. They appear invisible when pressing against a tree. They live mainly in forested habitats, nesting in woodpecker tree cavities. Male and female’s often preen each other, male’s get food for the female and young in nest. They are vulnerable to predation from Barred Owls

(Otus kennicotti kennicotti)

"Otus Jr. is an offspring of MARS’ Ambassador bird Otus Sr. who was loaned to a research/breeding program in northern B.C. As Otus Jr. was born into a captive breeding program in 2013, he is non-releasable due to his inability to hunt or protect himself around humans. Otus likes to rearrange his “furniture” and frequently removes his jesses (thin pliable leather anklets). He is very chatty and often greets when approached. He has a life expectancy of about 15 years and he eats 1 mouse each day and weighs about 200 – 250 g."

Fundraiser

If you’re an educator, community outreach group or organization putting on an event and you would like to have MARS ambassador birds attend please fill out the short form below.

Tell us when and where you would like us to be and a MARS volunteer will be in touch

Areas of Support

If you have some time to give or expertise to share, MARS might be the perfect place to start. Membership is required and on-site Volunteers must be 19 years old. The first step is super simple. Just fill in your name, email address and write a short sentence telling us something about yourself and one of our volunteers will be in touch with you.

Educate-3_480

Mary Jane Birch dreamed of building a facility that could treat more birds and animals while acting as an education centre.

She wanted to teach the public — particularly young people and children — the importance of preserving and protecting the wildlife and habitats of the Comox Valley and northern Vancouver Island. Sadly, Maj didn’t live long enough to see her dream come true, she passed away in 2015 from pancreatic cancer.

But in her will she left a substantial bequest to the new MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre. With the continued support of the local community, our generous donors and dedicated volunteers, we will be able to fulfill her dream and create a legacy for the Comox Valley that will ensure wildlife is protected and wild habitats are preserved.

Help Us

Learn how to help

Educate-1_480

Starring the MARS

A key objective of the MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre is to educate the public about the protection, preservation and well-being of wildlife and wild habitats on northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

School Activities

The Education and Awareness Program means that visitors at Eagle Fest in panoramic Campbell River or the Shellfish Festival in coastal Comox can witness these beautiful creatures up close and personal. No doubt many of you will have run into volunteers like Pat Scott or Betty and John Robertson and seen Sawyer, Scarlett, Shakespeare, Otus or Brinley perched on a glove or outstretched arm.

Each of these raptors suffered devastating injuries that prevent them from being returned to the wild, but have found new purpose helping to educate the public about wild nature. Usually owls and hawks like these live high in trees or in mountainous areas or hunt at night and so the public rarely comes in contact with them. Seeing Brinley’s big yellow eyes, Scarlett’s powerful talons or Sawyer’s shiny feathers from a foot away is awe-inspiring and in many cases transformational.

Visit Us

Learn how

Extra-1_480

Learn Where your Goes!

One very ordinary day, Don Gulliver was having lunch with his wife in when he noticed a sign in a window – MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre was looking for volunteers.

Advertisement turns the lights on at MARS

Gulliver is a foreman electrician with Courtenay-based company Houle Electric and has been with the company for 10 years. When he contacted MARS Wildlife Rescue to see what an electrician with a zest for helping his community could do, he discovered that MARS was building a new hospital in Merville.

“I spoke with my boss and told him I wanted to volunteer and help MARS build their new wildlife hospital,” says Don Gulliver. “My boss Nathan was really supportive and got involved right away.” The team at Houle and a number of their electricians jumped at the opportunity to provide the electrical construction services for the MARS project. The Houle team has delivered all the underground electrical services and wired the new hospital – and all of it as a volunteer company-supported project.

Help Us

Learn how to help

Our-Birds2_480

Hyacinth

Bald Eagle

Cool facts

The term ‘Bald’ comes their white-feathered heads gleam above their brown body. Young birds attain adult plumage in about five years. They scavenge many meals by harassing other birds or by eating carrion or garbage. Eagles mainly eat fish, but also hunt mammals, gulls, and waterfowl. Known to play and have been seen passing sticks to each other in midair. The largest nest on record was 2.9 meters wide and 6.1 meters tall, the oldest recorded bird in the wild was at least 38 years old when it was hit and killed by a car.

(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

"Hyacinth fell from her nest as a pre-fledgling when her nest fell apart. MARS was called and went by boat to the site at Hyacinth Cove on Quadra Island to rescue her. She suffered multiple fractures in her right wing that were too close to the shoulder to be pinned so her wing was taped for 4 weeks. When another eagle accidentally bumped into her later, the wing was re-fractured. It eventually did heal but has a slight curve in the humerus so she is unable to “soar like an eagle”. Hy is very vocal and likes to greet her handlers when they enter her enclosure. She is fairly gentle in spite of her size and gets along well with Humpty who is her permanent roommate. She also seems to enjoy the company of other eagle patients when they are housed together. Her diet consists of poultry, fish and deer meat and she weighs about 3.5 – 4.0 kg.!"

Our-Birds1_480

Humpty

Bald Eagle

Cool facts

The term ‘Bald’ comes their white-feathered heads gleam above their brown body. Young birds attain adult plumage in about five years. They scavenge many meals by harassing other birds or by eating carrion or garbage. Eagles mainly eat fish, but also hunt mammals, gulls, and waterfowl. Known to play and have been seen passing sticks to each other in midair. The largest nest on record was 2.9 meters wide and 6.1 meters tall, the oldest recorded bird in the wild was at least 38 years old when it was hit and killed by a car.

(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

"Humpty was a pre-fledgling found at the base of a tree and thought to be dead. 5 days later he was noticed to be moving and MARS was called in for rescue. As he had suffered a great fall, his finders named him Humpty. Upon admission he was found to be suffering from severe dehydration and emaciation. His tail feathers were missing, but slowly grew back within his first year at MARS. It is also believed that he has some mental deficit due to his early injuries. He seldom vocalizes and his flight remains uncertain. His diet consists of poultry, fish and deer meat and he weighs about 2.73 kg."

Our-Birds3_480

Shakespear

Barred Owl

Cool facts

Very small with large heads that lack ear tufts. Barred owls have catlike faces and bright yellow eyes. They are common in forests across northern North America, having a high-pitched too-too-too call. They usually eat mice in pieces, over two meals. They nest in previously excavated holes usually made by other birds. The female incubates and broods; the male hunts. About 18 days after the last egg hatches, the female leaves the nest, the male continues bringing food to the nestlings. The nest gets very messy after the female leaves

(Strix varia)

"Shakespeare was hit by a car in 2003. He lost his left eye and fractured his beak and sternum. It’s also believed that he has decreased or no hearing on his left side. He spent a year and a half in rehabilitation at the Orphan Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta, British Columbia. (O.W.L.) Wildlife caregivers determined his injuries would prevent him from fending for himself and so it was not possible to return him to the wild. Originally Shakespeare was adopted by MARS as a foster parent to younger Barred owls. However, he wasn’t very good in this role. He started training to become an Ambassador bird in 2006 and made his first public appearance 6 months later! He is often heard calling to local wild owls late in the day and sometimes can be heard making “howler monkey” calls. His age is unknown. His diet is mostly quail but he is also fed mice as an occasional treat. He weighs about 1 kg.!"

Our-Team8_480

Tanguay van Aelst

Volunteer Intern

“At MARS every day is different. We don’t know if there will be a rescue or a release. We are working a lot, but it is very rewarding.”

lanei

Lanei

Western Screech Owl

Cool facts

The western screech owl makes a series of hollow toots. They can take prey bigger than its own body. Their diet includes bats, insects and earthworms. They appear invisible when pressing against a tree. They live mainly in forested habitats, nesting in woodpecker tree cavities. Male and female’s often preen each other, male’s get food for the female and young in nest. They are vulnerable to predation from Barred Owls

(Otus kennicotti macfarlanei)

"Lanei arrived at MARS in March 2015 when he was about 2 years old. He is always resistant to go to “work” and will hang upside down from his roof. But once his plans are foiled he becomes very calm and enjoys having his picture taken! He has a life expectancy of about 15 years and he eats 1 mouse each day and weighs about 170 – 230 g."

Our-Birds7_480

Sawyer

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Cool facts

Very small with large heads that lack ear tufts. They have a catlike face and bright yellow eyes. Common in forests across northern North America. They have a high-pitched too-too-too call and usually eat mice in pieces, over two meals. They nest in previously excavated holes usually made by other birds. The female incubates and broods; the male hunts. About 18 days after the last egg hatches, the female leaves the nest. The male continues bringing food to the nestlings. The nest gets very messy after the female leaves.

(Aegolius acadicus)

"Sawyer came to MARS in August 2014 at about a year of age when he sustained damage to his right wing, possibly due to a cat attack. The damage to his wing was severe and the entire wing was surgically amputated. He was a very brave patient, even trying to bite the vet’s fingers! He is a confident bird whose disposition makes him ideal for classroom presentations. In 2016 Sawyer’s right eye became inflamed and even though it was treated with daily eye drops, it did not heal. In September 2017 he underwent surgical removal of his eye. Sawyer likes to be alone and can get cranky at times. During the winter cold he is housed in the MARS hospital building due his small size and disabilities. He has a life expectancy of 8-9 years. He eats 1 mouse each day and weighs about 70 – 100 g.!"

Our-Birds4_480

Horus

Red-Tailed Hawk

Cool facts

Likes open country and fields
Perches on utility poles to spot prey
Is often seen roadside
Is the most common hawk in Canada
Is easy to train, popular with falconers
Mates after soaring in high circles
Has great eyesight, built to hunt
Has a loud, piercing scream
Mates for life

(Buteo jamaicensis)

"Horus is a Red-Tailed hawk named after the falcon-headed Egyptian god of the same name. He was found in 2008 hanging around the Quinsam River Hatchery near Campbell River where he was begging for food and displayed “mantling” behaviour that indicated he was imprinted to humans and probably raised in captivity. When he was brought to MARS he was emaciated and suffered from “Bumblefoot” which prevented him from bending his toes to catch prey. MARS developed a foot cream to cure his foot issue. He is also prone to feather damage as he many not have had a “Mom” to teach him feather maintenance. He is a calm, older bird, well-suited to classroom visits. He is probably more than 10 years old with a life expectancy of 20 years. He eats 1/2 quail each day and weighs about 1.3 kg."

Brinley_480

Brinley

Great-Horned Owl

Cool facts

Is common, mainly nocturnal; Has laser eyesight, sonar-like ears; Can swivel head 180° in either direction; Hunts other owls and hawks; Uses vice-like talons to sever spines; Is the hated enemy of crows; Has ultra soft feathers that quiet flight; Regurgitates fur, teeth & bones; Is strongly territorial

(Bubo virginianus)

"Brinley was about 3 years old when she was hit by a car in 2005. Her right wing was so badly damaged that part of it had to be amputated. She came to MARS in 2012 from The Raptors wildlife rescue in Duncan. Brinley is a large bird who can be a bit intimidating but she is usually calm in public as she is used to working in front of a large audience. She will raise her wings on command to display her amputation. She uses her feet to catch and hold prey. Her feet have a crush force of 400 psi which equals the force of a wolf’s jaw! She is a calm, patient bird who bonds well with her handlers and depends on them for support while out in the field. Head scratches from her handler are one of her favourite things!"

Our-Team11_480

John Robertson

Volunteer

“I have volunteered with MARS for about seven years and enjoy the fact that in some small capacity we are helping a necessary organization. Met some terrific folks that are great role models.”

Our-Team10_480

Betty Robertson

Volunteer

“My husband, John and I have volunteered with MARS for about seven years. The time we spend on MARS activities is fun and enjoyable.”

News12_480

Support MARS by buying

It’s time for our annual raffle!  Purchase your tickets below for your chance to win.

Eligibility Confirmation*

You must be 19 years of age or older, and you must be within the Province of British Columbia when you place your order.

The prize draw will be held at Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens 6183 Whittaker Rd., Courtenay BC on Monday, September 7th, 2020 at 3:00 pm. Winners consent to release of their names by licensee.

2093

TICKETS LEFT OUT OF 2500

Skip to toolbar