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February 1, 2013

Rescuing a wildlife rescuer

Wildlife guru fights potential change of scenery

GLOUCESTER — Anyone on Cape Ann who has found an injured gull, placed a pet exotic bird up for adoption, or seen the release of a rehabilitated owl, crow or baby bird probably knows Jodi Swenson.

”I’m the bird lady,” Swenson said, standing in her home that doubles as a rehabilitation lab now named Save Cape Ann Wildlife, Inc. She swings her arm to gesture sweepingly at a shelf of figurines, birds of glass and clay and metal, all different species, ages, and size snuggled into a cluster on the kitchen shelf.

Lumpy the pet pigeon — in his psychedelic flight suit, a fancy name for bird diaper — coos and croons at momma Swenson and the Cockatoo she adopted from a home, the former owners unable to care for the exotic bird, clanks and slinks along her metal cage, greeting the room with a hello attached to her own name, Yaya.

But the woman known around Cape Ann for rehabilitating countless birds, maybe even 250 babies every summer, and hanging onto those birdies in need of a home, could use a little help herself now. The house she rents was recently foreclosed upon and, though her landlord is working to modify the foreclosure, Swenson needs a plan for buying the house on a short sale in case it does hit the market.

Swenson’s animal rescue work, for which she is permitted while also applying for approval as a federally recognized nonprofit, would be tough to relocate into a new rental.

”It’s going to be difficult to find someone who will allow all of this,” Swenson said

”All of this” includes at least three wooden shed-like structures for baby bird rehabilitation, countless injured fliers during the summer season, birds that need to stay indoors during the colder months to be wintered over, and a handful of formerly unwanted, now loved pets.

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