Every November and March, hundreds of millions of birds of all sizes and types arrive in Israel after migrating thousands of kilometers. Some of the visitors are in need of medical treatment from exhaustion, illness or injury.

A couple of months ago, veterinarians at the Wildlife Hospital at the Ramat Gan Safari, in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, established a bird blood bank to help them treat more of these feathered friends.

The project was initiated by Dr. Elad Smit, a staff veterinarian, with the enthusiastic support of the hospital staff. So far, they have collected 16 samples from bird patients, separating out the plasma for long-term storage.

“Now we’re considering taking a blood sample from every bird we treat, to help us save the next bird that may come,” said hospital director Dr. Yigal Horowitz in a statement from the facility.

“We have a long way to go, but this is a significant breakthrough,” he added. “We’re proud to be the first hospital in the world with such a blood bank.”

The staff already used banked blood to transfuse a common buzzard that was brought to the hospital in serious condition. The patient recovered and was successfully released back to the wild.