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An inside look at New York City's small and very busy community of wildlife rehabilitators

Meet the wildlife rehabilitators helping injured animals in NYC
Meet the wildlife rehabilitators helping injured animals in NYC 02:13

NEW YORK - New Yorkers share the city with the hundreds of species of wildlife that also call it home, and among those New Yorkers are different groups who work to help injured animals.

How Amina Martin has helped hundreds of birds in NYC

Amina Martin is a licensed New York State wildlife rehabilitator. For 15 years, she estimates to have worked with more than 1,000 birds, sharing her rescues with devoted followers on social media. Her most common calls are for injured pigeons. 

"Pigeons, they have such a bad reputation and I feel bad because people treat them so nasty," she says. 

She scoops some bird feed and tosses it out her window onto a neighboring rooftop, as dozens of pigeons come to eat.

"But they are beautiful birds," she adds.

A symphony of squawks and and screeches comes from a flock of pigeons, a group of parakeets, a morning dove and an old parrot taking up residence in Martin's apartment. 

"Injured birds, they are everywhere on the street. You know, whenever I walk on the street, my eyes are already trained. I don't look at the cars, I don't look at the people, I look at the birds," she tells CBS New York's Hannah Kliger.

Many of the birds in Martin's Bay Ridge apartment are up for adoption because they're no longer able to live on their own. Others will be released when they're ready. 

"Rehabilitating wildlife the right way is time consuming"

One by one, she introduced the flock living in her home, like Elmore, an abandoned 21-year-old parrot struggling to regrow his feathers. Or a pigeon run over by a car, missing a leg and part of its tail. 

"I know how to fix, you know, fractures. I know how to fix certain kind of disease," she says. "Pigeons are much cleaner than people think. For example, my birds, every day when I give them a plate with water, they always clean themselves."

She's part of a small but very busy group of wildlife rehabilitators that work to help injured animals across the city, with different groups focusing on different species.

"It all depends on how our wildlife rehabilitators, how they are licensed, which species they are allowed to take in and to take care of," says Arina Hinzen, Executive Director of the Urban Wildlife Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates and saves different animals like squirrels and baby opossums. 

"Rehabilitating wildlife the right way is time consuming. It's expensive, it needs space for creating the right enclosures for these animals," Hinzen says. 

Have a story idea or tip in Brooklyn? Email Hannah by CLICKING HERE.

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