Last year, the Bird Center of Washtenaw County moved an assortment of birds, their food, their medicines, equipment, and cleaning and office supplies out of a small, cinder-block building on Mary St. before the August primary election, then back, then out and back again in November.

The building is a city-owned polling station, made available to the bird-rescue group on the condition that they clear out when it’s needed for elections. That’s stressful on everybody, especially the birds, and 2020 was particularly difficult. The Bird Center was outgrowing the space (it now handles more than 1,300 birds a year); the building was falling into a state of disrepair; and the Ann Arbor Animal Hospital, which had generously housed the organization during previous polling events, was restricted because of Covid-19.

So the nonprofit bought a home of its own: a house on Platt Rd. across from the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility. “I’m looking forward to positive changes” says Andrea Aiuto, a former vet tech before becoming a center staff member and then director of the organization after founder Carol Akerlof retired in 2017.

The purchase, financed in part by a donation, more than doubles the center’s space. The home includes luxuries like a basement, a washer and dryer, and an equipped kitchen. There’s also a pole barn and 2.5 acres of land, which will allow space for flight cages and also help facilitate public involvement and community education.

While still specializing in the rehabilitation of songbirds, the center now hopes to expand care to water birds and raptors. And, if enough funds are raised, the new home will be able to include more on-site medical care with larger equipment such as X-ray machines–an important component to the quick diagnosis and treatment that injured birds require. The new location, Aiuto says, “is perfect!”