Ferruginous Hawk Recovered from Plow of Freight Train

Posted on 31 December 2009 by Dawn Keller

The cover of today's Chicago Sun-Times featured a story on a Ferruginous Hawk that Flint Creek Wildlife recovered from the plow of a Canadian Pacific freight train in August. Journey, as the hawk is now known, demonstrated amazing will to live through the 1,000+ mile journey as it was wedged in a contorted position throughout his ordeal.

Thanks to the workers at the Canadian Pacific for noticing the bird's tail hanging down from the front of the train as it arrived at the Franklin Park rail yard long after dark. After realizing that the bird was still alive, the workers located Flint Creek Wildlife and called us after 11:00 pm. We arrived at the rail yard just after midnight and extricated the bird from the train's plow.

Thanks to Mitch Dudek, Tom Cruze and the Chicago Sun-Times staff for their amazing coverage of this brave bird!

Dawn Keller

Illinois Storm Warning

Posted on 29 March 2009 by Dawn Keller

Last night brought signficant heavy, wet snow to northern Illinois. If you live in that area, please be aware that any nests might have been compromised. If you know of an active nest in your yard or area, please check to see if the nest was destroyed in last night's storm and, if so, check for any babies in distress. Particularly susceptible in Illinois right now are Grey Squirrels, Fox Squirrels and Great Horned Owls.

If you find a hypothermic (low body temperature) baby, immediately bring it inside and place it in warm bedding. Do not initially give the baby any supplemental head like a hot water bottle or heating pad as heating the baby too quickly could result in death. Do not feed or give water to the baby. Call a licensed rehabilitator in your area for further instructions. A full list of Illinois rehabilitators is on our website under the links section. ( You may reach us at 847/842-8000.

Adults are also getting in to trouble today. Most susceptible will be migrants who aren't normally accustomed to dealing with this type of weather.

Thank you for helping us Save Lives,


Saving the Birds

Posted on 27 March 2009 by Dawn Keller

Felicia Dechter's Skyline News column this week featured a great article on Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation's rescue and recovery efforts. "Saving the birds" also talks about migration, reducing window collisions, how to volunteer for Flint Creek Wildlife and how to help if you find an injured bird.

Speaking of Felicia, her mom was just moved into hospice. Please keep them in your thoughts.


“I Heard Your Message, But….”

Posted on 22 March 2009 by Dawn Keller

"....I fed it anyway. I didn't understand why I shouldn't feed it. Why shouldn't I feed it anyway?"

So much for being able to put what used to be a perfectly healthy baby Great Horned Owl back in its nest. Thanks to the straw full of water that its rescuer put in its mouth, the owlet is now fighting for its life.

Case: 09-100
Species: Great Horned Owl
Diagnosis: aspiration pneumonia

The instructions that we and other wildlife rehabilitation centers provide are designed to keep rescuers from doing unintended harm....please follow them.

Great Horned Owl Caught in Soccer Net Released

Posted on 19 March 2009 by Dawn Keller

The Great Horned Owl recovered from a soccer net Tuesday night (blog posting Owls Don't Play Soccer) was released last night. He flew strong and is hopefully now - once again - hunting to help provide food for his mate and owlets. This is the worst time of year to get in an injured Great Horned Owl since their babies have recently hatched, so we wanted to get this bird back to his home as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, he didn't sustain any injuries as a result of his run-in with a soccer net while he was catching his cottontail dinner. Others admitted to Flint Creek Wildlife have not all been so lucky. As a reminder, don't leave your soccer nets up at night!

Back to the owl, since I was releasing him at 1:00 am, I notified the police of my presence and mission. I figured that neighbors might get nervous seeing a car hanging out at that hour....


Owls don’t play soccer

Posted on 18 March 2009 by Dawn Keller

Since owls don't play soccer why don't we all agree to take down our soccer nets at night. For what its worth they don't play badminton or volleyball either. The nets are a hazard to owls who hunt at night. Their amazing hearing allows them to track their prey but they don't see the nets.

Earlier this evening we got a call from Oswego where a Great Horned Owl had gotten trapped in a net in an open field. Vince and his family had spent the better part of the day trying to find someone to help. They think the owl might have been trapped since last night. He called the police, trapping services and other rehab facilities and no one could help or was willing to go to Oswego to save the owl. By the time we got the call he was running out of places to call.

Fortunately, Vince didn't give up and we were able to help. When I got there, Vince and his son took me out to an open field behind their house. At the base of the net was a Great Horned Owl completely entangled in the net. Next to owl was his dinner a big old rabbit. It looked as though the Great Horned Owl had just caught the rabbit and hit the net trying to get away with dinner. The owl was not happy to see us, even if we were there to help. I cut the owl from the net and put him a box to transport back the Barrington facility to remove the tangled netting and receive medical care.

At the Barrington Facility, Dawn removed the tangled netting, did an assessment and treated the owl for dehydration. She will evaluate the owl later today after it has time to calm down. Hopefully we will be able to return it back to the wild quickly. Its breeding season for Great Horned Owls and we don't know if this one has a mate.
So please think about the hazards that are up in yards, parks and schools. If you need to leave the nets out at least lay them down so its less likely anything will fly into them. This owl may have been lucky it was stuck but not hanging upside down and he didn't become dinner.
Thanks Vince for not giving up!!


Posted on 1 March 2009 by Dawn Keller

This morning, I read a post on IBET (Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts) from a member of Will County Audubon regarding an injured Mute Swan down by Channahon. I responded to the posting that if the bird was still there and in need of assistance, we would coordinate a recovery. In return, I received private emails from three different individuals providing helpful information regarding the swan, its location and its condition. I also received the following email:

"Hello, Dawn.

I don't mean to sound uncompassionate, but Mute Swans are a nasty invasive (species)that are killing our native wildlife. While no creature should suffer, of course, I think euthanizing it would be the best option regardless of its potential to recover. Rehabilitating the bird will only further degrade what little native wetlands we have.



I realize that not everyone thinks that Flint Creek Wildlife should treat non-native species. Through the years, I have come to realize that many people think we shouldn't treat certain native species - even some that are fully protected under state and/or federal laws. I have been surprised to learn just how many people have one or more species of animals that they dislike or even hate. If we listened to every one's opinion, we'd stop treating or even euthanizing all sorts of animals....but we don't. Why?

First, let me say that Flint Creek Wildlife's mission is to treat injured and orphaned wildlife with the goal of returning fully rehabilitated wildlife back to its natural habitat. There are three major species that we don't treat - skunks, bats and raccoons. We don't treat skunks or bats because it is prohibited by Illinois law. We don't treat raccoons because we don't have the space or funding to devote caging to this species and, due to a parasite of which raccoons are asymptomatic carriers, caging used for raccoons should not subsequently be used for other species. We do treat all other species of wild animal, native and non-native, even species that aren't my personal favorite. We strive to provide the best possible care to each and every animal that enters our facilities. We are in the business of Saving Lives.

Second, I believe that conservation begins in small ways. Sometimes a person develops a life-long love of birding and an awareness of conservation after finding their first bird. This can begin regardless of whether the first bird was a pigeon, house sparrow or starling. The act of helping another living thing, whether native or non-native, also instills a fundamental respect of wildlife to which we should all ascribe and which we should all promote.

Third, as a not-for-profit wildlife rehabilitation center, we not only serve animals through saving their lives, we also serve residents of the communities in which we operate. We cannot effectively service our communities when we refuse to accept animals found in those communities.

Fourth, compassion for living things should be fostered in all of us. Compassion cannot be selective based on meeting certain species criteria.

Last, let me ask, have you ever held in your hands a living thing and determined whether it lives or dies? I have and I do, but when I euthanize an animal it's an act of compassion due to that animal's inability to survive. And it's never a decision to be taken lightly.

I guess we just see things differently.


Dawn Keller
Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Mahatma Gandhi

Bad Luck Comes in Threes

Posted on 18 January 2009 by Dawn Keller

Admittedly, I don't really believe in bad luck - or good luck for that matter. I believe that "luck" is generally made through hard work, perseverance and sound decision making. Did I say believe? Perhaps I meant believed?

So now I can only hope that bad luck comes in threes - not fours, fives, sixes or more. And if you didn't jump ahead reading this posting, then I'll give you a hint and re title this posting "We Need an Ark, Revisited, Revisited".

Those of you that follow our blog know that our Itasca location flooded in September and we were forced to evacuate over 40 animals from outdoor caging - thankfully without animal casualties. Cages were flooded over 2-1/2 feet deep with some cages up to my mid-chest. Our dedicated volunteers toiled over 250 hours scrubbing and sanitizing caging before the animals could be returned outside. We are planning to repair physical damage to cages this spring.

Enter December 27th with the polar melt and Itasca flooded again. This time the deepest cages were flooded to my knees. Still, we evacuated many animals to the safety of the building and there were no animal casualties. This flood was complicated by cold weather that will prevent us from returning many animals to outdoor caging until after the spring thaw so that we can appropriately scrub and sanitize cages.

Moving on to January 17th at Northerly Island in days following bitter cold during which the city of Chicago was apparently emulating the North Pole................. On the day that we're supposed to participate in the Chicago Park District's Polar Adventure Days at Northerly Island one of our volunteers arrives at our downtown facility to find that the Polar ice cap has melted - or perhaps it's just a burst (formerly frozen) pipe in the Men's Room.

Our facility at Northerly Island that we've worked on for so many hours and put any spare money and resources into fixing up for the last three years, is under 1-1/2 inches of water. Our beautiful wood laminate floor is ruined. The flooring guy says that all of the boards will buckle over the next few days and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Our cabinets are wicking up water. Just when the facility is almost done, we feel that we're back to square one.

Water may be essential to life, but I'm not feeling the love.

Know anyone that will donate flooring and installation?


Letter to Animal Planet - Follow up to Quizno’s Coyote

Posted on 7 January 2009 by Dawn Keller

As promised, below is the primary content sent to Animal Planet. I am still networking in order to identify a contact at Animal Planet high enough to effectuate, or at least champion, the requisite change....please advise if you know anyone at the network.



I was extremely disturbed to see the show “Weird, True and Freaky” last night, which featured the story of the coyote that wandered into a Quizno’s in downtown Chicago. Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation was directly involved in this incident. In fact, I personally examined this coyote when it returned to our Barrington facility. The depiction in the show might have been weird and freaky, but it was almost completely untrue. The show sensationalized the incident and presented an unfair depiction of the individual coyote and the species in general. Coyotes are already the subject of irrational fear and persecution – this show’s misrepresentations could only promulgate further irrational phobias.

If “Weird, True and Freaky” had any intention of accurately representing this incident, then it should have contacted those that were directly involved rather than utilizing alleged “Wildlife Experts” whose suppositions regarding this incident conveniently dramatized the show’s fictionalized account.

Until last night, I have always viewed Animal Planet to be an educational source that accurately represents wildlife and conservation issues. The experience we had taping Backyard Habitat reinforced my positive impressions of the network. Sadly, “Weird, True and Freaky” refuted prior positive beliefs. Animal Planet should be ashamed to run this type programming.

Quizno’s Coyote on Animal Planet Postscript

Posted on 6 January 2009 by Dawn Keller

My apologies to everyone we told about the Animal Planet show "Weird, True and Freaky" which is running a segment on the Quizno's coyote Adrian (see our blog archives for his original and accurate story). Please also note that we have deleted our original blog posting regarding the show so as not to refer further people to watch this show.

In my opinion, not only did the show fail to accurately depict Adrian, his physical state and the likely reasons why he entered the Quizno's, but in the spirit of sensational "reporting", the show also did a grave disservice to the species. Adrian was a perfectly healthy coyote who became extremely frightened and typically reticent after mistakenly wandering into Chicago's downtown loop. Further, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health website, there has not been a confirmed case of rabies in a coyote in Illinois in the last 18 years - to imply that this animal had rabies is simply irresponsible.

I will be writing to Animal Planet to voice my extreme displeasure over these inaccuracies. I will post a copy of this letter on the blog.


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