Blog

Bye Bye Birdie - Flying South for the Winter

Posted on 20 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

Well, migration is coming to an end for the fall. Birds of prey, which migrate during the day, are still coming through...so are Sandhill Cranes. For the most part, however, the small migratory birds have already passed through our area.

Some birds migrated to southern Illinois while others went to places like the southern United States, West Indies or Central America. Migration is a very dangerous time for these birds. Not only does migration require significant stores of energy, but birds sometimes get caught in storms, get pushed out over vast bodies of water or cannot find food because of frozen ground and snow cover. They also face dangers such as window collisions, errant hunters, oil spills, and lead contamination over feeding grounds.

Birds will be resuming migration in the spring. Generally, the latest small migrants to come through Chicago in the fall are the earliest migrants to pass through in the spring. We basically see the species arrive in the reverse order that they left in the fall. Look for American Woodcocks in the spring as they will signal the beginning of migration.

We'll still see birds during the winter. Some of these have migrated from north of here and Chicago is part of their winter grounds. Others are year-round residents.

Bye bye birdies and safe travels.

Let the Rut Begin

Posted on 10 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

Warning to all drivers - watch out for those White-tailed Deer. You see, White-tailed Deer are now in rut. Rut, which is triggered by shorter photoperiod days, is mating season and that means that bucks only have one thing on their minds! They aren't watching for your car headlights, but rather they are in pursuit of a doe and thinking of little else!

Rut, in addition to corresponding to mating season, also corresponds to a large number of automobile/deer collisions. Not only are bucks pursuing does at all costs, but many of you are commuting home from work after dark. These two factors form a deadly combination.

Please be extra careful when driving. Drive slowly and follow safe driving practices like scanning the road ahead. If you see one deer cross the road in front of you, please assume that there could be more to follow....

If you are unfortunate enough to hit a deer, it is your obligation to report it to the police just as you would with any vehicular accident. Sadly, a majority of White-tailed Deer injured in vehicular accidents must be euthanized due to the nature of their injuries. If a deer is injured, you may contact us or refer your law enforcement office to us for an injury assessment.

The Beauty of Silent Flight

Posted on 7 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

She flew silently into the night without much deliberation. She landed in a nearby tree and disappeared. We hoped that she would reveal her location by a soft trill or whinney, two Eastern Screech Owl vocalizations, but we heard nothing except the rustle of leaves.

Another American Bittern Successfully Rehabilitated

Posted on 5 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

Today we released an American Bittern to continue its migration southward. This was the first of five American Bitterns admitted to Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation thus far during fall migration. He suffered from a fracture to the left radius (bone in the wing). The wing healed and he was ready to continue his journey.

American Bitterns, an endangered species in Illinois, spend their summers in much of Canada and the northern United States. Their wintering grounds include the southern reaches of the United States and Central America. According to Cornell Department of Ornithology, they generally migrate alone or in pairs.

American Bitterns have a reputation for being very secretive. They stand among reeds and blades of tall grass and hold their heads up with their bills pointed skyward camouflaging themselves as grass. In this position, they can be very difficult to see. You can see this nicely illustrated in one of the photos we took of the subject American Bittern following his release.

Anyway, I digress....

So this American Bittern flew to the nearby reeds and tall grass and camouflaged himself. He hung out for awhile and then continued his migration. One more injured bird that gets another chance. We wish him a long and safe life.

In case you're interested, while we've released three of the American Bitterns arriving this fall, it looks like the other two will miss migration. Once healed, our options will be to overwinter them or to ship them south to their wintering territory. One of these birds suffered from a fractured femur (leg bone) while the second has a fractured wrist (wing bone).

Dog Attacked Mallard Survives

Posted on 5 November 2008 by Dawn Keller

Today we released a young Mallard Duck that had been attacked by a dog a few weeks prior and brought to Flint Creek Wildlife by Arlington Heights Animal Control. Upon admission, the duck had puncture wounds on her neck and chest.

She relished the moment by bathing happily.

Red-tailed Hawk Release

Posted on 29 October 2008 by Dawn Keller

Below are photos from the first of two Red-tailed Hawks that we released today. This Red-tailed Hawk was brought to Flint Creek Wildlife's Barrington location by Palatine Animal Control. It was found down in a suburban yard.

Based on eye color and small size, we believe that this Red-tailed Hawk is a male - approximately 5 years old. Upon admission, he was in moderately low condition with a wing injury.

He came from a rather crowded area and, although we might have preferred another location, he needed to go home where he'd been surviving all these years. His release was uneventful as he flew strongly to a nearby tree and proceeded to survey the area.

Good luck, be strong and good hunting!

Love of a Lifetime

Posted on 29 October 2008 by Dawn Keller

As I loosened my grip, he turned a looked at me, wings outspread. I wished him good luck.

He turned away and flew towards some nearby houses, landing in a dense grouping of trees. He disappeared from sight.

From the south she came flying towards the tree. She landed inside the dense foliage also disappearing from sight. She soon emerged and flew to the top of a nearby telephone pole.

He followed, briefly alighting on a vent pipe and then following her to the telephone pole. There they stood side by side.

She left the telephone pole, kee-eee-aaring, a joyous call beckoning him to follow. They had been reunited.

He had left her three months earlier after having been shot and almost dying from blood loss. His will to live was undeniable. Now through his will they have been given another chance.

"All my life through, the new sights of nature made me rejoice like a child." Marie Curie

Great Horned Owl Release

Posted on 27 October 2008 by Dawn Keller

Several months after we rescued a large, female Great Horned Owl with a broken wing from a horse pasture, we returned her home - her wing now healed. Instead of flying off to the nearby trees, she headed across the open space towards the resident's house. I feared for a moment that I was about to treat her for head trauma, but at the last minute she ascended to land on their roof.

I am confident that this tough and aggressive owl will thrive now that we've given her a second chance.

Mice beware!

Northern Saw-whet Owl Release

Posted on 26 October 2008 by Dawn Keller

I am overjoyed that we were able to return three Northern Saw-whet Owls back to the wild. All three originally became injured by colliding with windows. Two have been in our care since spring migration while the third became injured just a couple of weeks ago during fall migration.

Northern Saw-whet Owls weigh half as much as Illinois' smallest year-round resident owl, the Eastern Screech Owl. Like all birds of prey, males are smaller than females. For a Northern Saw-whet, that might mean 70 grams for a male and 100 grams for a female - less than 1/4 of a pound.

Northern Saw-whets passing through Chicago probably summer in Wisconsin or Canada and spend winters as far north as southern Illinois to as far south as the southern United States. One of our volunteers informed me that a Northern Saw-whet has been known to winter at Morton Arboretum and has been sighted in the same tree winter after winter. Flint Creek Wildlife has never admitted a Northern Saw-whet except during migration.

Check out the photo gallery on our website for additional release photos.

Safe travels.

Two Endangered Birds Return to Wild

Posted on 18 October 2008 by Dawn Keller

Yesterday was the first time in Flint Creek Wildlife's history that we've released two endangered species in one day....both birds were American Bitterns, a medium-sized heron that is known for being secretive.

American Bitterns are deceiving. When not extending their necks, they seem fairly small. But watch out and wear safety glasses! An experienced Bittern rehabilitator will always control a Bittern's head else risk losing an eye. Bitterns spring on their legs like pogo sticks and they extend their necks like being ejected from a cannon. (Our photo gallery contains release photos from October 24, 2006 that illustrate this very well.)

Anyway, we've admitted three American Bitterns thus far during fall migration. One has a broken wing (ulna) and will be with us for some time. The other two suffered from head trauma - one severe and one mild. These are the two that were released today.

We videotaped the second release, so we only have one still photo of the second bird. See our photo gallery for all of today's release pictures and stay tuned for video....

And, yes, we released this bird in wetlands, but he flew off to the woods instead of the wetlands. We're confident he went back to the wetlands after we left. The second Bittern flew along the water until we finally lost sight of him....what a breathtaking sight.

Dawn

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