The Resident Bird of Prey program offers a unique opportunity for wildlife volunteers to work with and train a captive collection similar to that of a zoo. Using positive reinforcement, our birds are worked with multiple times a day to provide a stimulating environment. This program allows future veterinary students a chance to learn concepts used by keepers and zoo veterinarians so that they can be successful in this field. Our resident birds are also wildlife ambassadors and would love to visit you and teach you about Illinois wildlife.
Noel, the Northern saw-whet owl, came to the Wildlife Medical Clinic on December 5, 2006, with no function or feeling in her left wing. No fractures were seen on X-rays, but an injury had caused irreversible nerve damage to the wing.
Noel would never be able to fly and survive in the wild. Fortunately, the clinic was able to obtain permission for Noel to join our resident raptor program. Her mild disposition is ideal for use in educational presentations to area classrooms and organizations.
Saw-whet owls are one of the smallest owls native to North America, generally weighing less than five ounces. They are strictly nocturnal, so few people ever see a live saw-whet owl.
Nokomis is a great horned owl (Bubo virginianus). In April 2003, a local wildlife rehabilitator brought us a baby great horned owl (GHOW) who could not fly. Radiographs revealed a broken right humerus, the largest of the wing bones. Shortly after his arrival, Nokomis underwent surgery to repair his fractured wing.
Metal pins were inserted into the bone fragments to hold them in place and an external fixator was placed on the outside of the bone to stabilize the pins. He was given antibiotics and physical therapy and recovered enough to be sent to a rehabilitator. However, the rehabber sent him back to the WMC for two reasons: first because his right wing was still drooping, and second because he had an unusually docile demeanor for a GHOW.
Normally, great horned owls are very aggressive and will clack their beaks and hiss when they feel threatened, using their beaks as well as their talons to defend themselves. Additionally, great horned owls are territorial animals and must be aggressive to defend their hunting grounds.
Nokomis has yet to clack, hiss or try to bite or talon anyone – a very unusual occurrence for a GHOW. He was very curious from the start and loves to watch everything that happens in the clinic from his perch. He became one of our residents after it was determined he could not survive on his own in the wild and now serves as a beautiful ambassador for his species.
Odin, our red-tailed hawk, was found in Fairbury, IL on August 15, 1997. He was brought in extremely emaciated and weak.
We believe he was orphaned and was too young to feed himself. Upon arrival we had to perform emergency administration of fluids. With extremely debilitated birds, one of the most reliable ways to give fluids is directly into the bone using a catheter.
After a few months he recovered, and his musculature filled out quite nicely. As a complication though, he developed an infection in his bone.
Although the infection was resolved, he has been left with severe arthritis, preventing full extension of his right wing. Without full extension, he cannot fly to hunt for food, and is therefore a permanent resident in the WMC.
Thistle, the American Kestrel, is our newest resident at the Wildlife Medical Clinic. She came to us as a juvenile as a patient in the summer of 2012, due to an eye injury. The injury left Thistle with only one working eye; American Kestrel’s cannot be released with one eye so she is now a resident. Thistle is extremely curious and loves watching clinic members. She is very interactive and loves having new objects put in her cage; everything is a toy in Thistle’s eyes. Thistle is our only fully-flighted bird and as such we had to work very often with her to gain her trust on glove. American Kestrels are the smallest falcons of North America. We know Thistle is a girl due to her rusty-red coloring. Both sexes have black vertical bars on their face termed “side burns” which help deflect the sun rays during flight. We are excited to have Thistle working in our program and cannot wait to teach her more behaviors.
Does your service group need a project? We are always looking for help maintaining our flight cage facilities as well as developing enrichment projects for our residents!