- The Wild Bird Fund Center
565 Columbus Ave., nr. 87th St.; 646-306-2862
In less than a year, this nonprofit rehabilitation and education center on the Upper West Side has helped save the lives of more than 1,500 local and migrating birds. The real lucky ducks in this story, however, are the kids and teens who volunteer at the center and attend its special events. Seasonal open houses give children a chance to meet rehabbers and their feathered patients, like a kestrel recently found in Hunts Point with a concussion. Family memberships start at $250 and include nature-inspired crafts and storytelling sessions (best for kids 7 and up), as well as bird walks with borrowed Orvis binoculars. Volunteering is another way to indulge Dr. Doolittle–ish leanings. Teens must be high-school age to participate; they start by cleaning cages and eventually graduate to feeding baby birds.
Best Zoo Alternative
From the 2013 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine