Shafer Vineyards donates land to Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County

Shafer Vineyards donates land to Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County

Napa County has its first permanent facility for rehabilitating injured wild birds thanks to Shafer Vineyards, which donated 5 acres of land near the Napa River to The Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County (WRCNC).

raviary-releaseOn the secluded, heavily wooded site just off Silverado Trail, dubbed “Shafer Sanctuary,” WRCNC has erected a rehabilitation facility that will allow ravens and crows, along with hawks, owls, and other large wild birds, to recover from injury and be reintroduced into the wild.

“The land from the Shafer family and the pre-release aviary – we now call it the Raviary – has been a huge addition to our operation,” said WRCNC Vice President John Comisky. “We have long needed a space where large birds can build their flight strength before being released, and the pristine surroundings facilitate their settling into the wild while being protected in this final phase of their care.”

Shafer Vineyards President Doug Shafer said the vineyard was pleased the rescue center was able to use the land.

“We feel a real connection to this,” said Shafer. “Since the 1980s, here at Shafer, we’ve been practicing sustainable farming, part of which includes partnering with Red-Shouldered Hawks, American Kestrels, and Barn Owls to control the gopher population in our vineyards.”

Beginning in the late 1980s, the winery erected hawk hunting perches and owl nesting boxes to attract birds of prey to their vineyards. These raptors act as a natural means of controlling gopher populations in the vineyards.

The Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County is a nonprofit organization that has been in operation for 25 years. It is the only organization permitted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to rescue, rehabilitate, and release wildlife in Napa County.

The organization helps Napa wildlife ranging from songbirds to birds of prey, and mammals, from squirrels to foxes. “When they are orphaned, we raise them. When they are injured, we work to heal them — all with the goal of returning them back to their wild lives,” said Comisky.

WRCNC uses mobile units on land lent to it by Napa County and operates out of satellite sites at the homes of species-specific rehabilitation experts. The Silverado Veterinary Hospital has partnered with WRCNC for several years to take wildlife in before it is transferred to appropriate care sites.

“The rescue center helped nearly 1,200 birds and animals in 2015,” Comisky said, adding that WRCNC is on track to reach a similar number this year.

For more information about The Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County, visit