Blog Archive October 2008

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.


Blue-headed Vireo Release

Posted on 17 October 2008 by Dawn Keller

Back in May, I reported on a Hooded Warbler that our rescue and recovery teams picked up after it hit a building in downtown Chicago. The Hooded Warbler was at that time the first of that species that we'd ever treated at Flint Creek Wildlife. Fortunately, like 90% of the head trauma cases triaged at our Northerly Island facility, the bird recovered and was released.

Many of you probably don't realize how many different avian species we treat each year. At our Northerly Island facility alone, we treated 74 different species of birds in 2007. (The total species count between Northerly Island and Barrington was even higher.) Still, Chicago, which lies on a major international migratory flyway, provides respite to a wealth of bird life. And even though most species we treat aren't a "first" for Flint Creek Wildlife, we are occasionally surprised.

So when a member of the public phoned saying that the injured bird with the amazing coloring must be an escaped pet bird, I responded that it was probably a migratory bird that hit a window. I admit that even I was surprised to see this little beauty with a blue head almost reminiscent of a parakeet.

The Blue-headed Vireo recovered from her head trauma and was released. We opted to videotape the release, but offer you the below still photo just before her release.

Blue-headed Vireos summer in the far northernmost reaches of Michigan and in much of Canada while they spend their winters in the southeastern United States. Cornell's Department of Ornithology reports that they very infrequently collide with windows....perhaps this is why we've never before treated one. Let's hope that they never again collide with windows in our great city!

Good luck, little Vireo.


Bird Walk and Migration Program at Northerly Island Saturday, October 11, 2008

Posted on 9 October 2008 by Dawn Keller

Come join us this coming Saturday, October 11, 2008 at Northerly Island. We'll be presenting one of our educational programs on the dynamics of bird migration, followed by a bird walk on Northerly Island. The bird walk will be led by the experienced birder Dave Johnson (Wild Bird Center, Fox River Grove). We've scheduled this program for later in the day as we're hoping that a sunset bird walk will reveal the elusive Short-eared Owls, an endangered species in Illinois. Short-eared Owls have been spotted on Northerly Island during the last few migratory seasons (and despite trying and trying and trying, I've NEVER seen one in the wild!)....Saturday's schedule follows:

4:30 - approximately 5:15 - "The Perils of Migration"
approximately 5:15 - 6:30 - bird walk
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm - Twilight Night (stargaze with the Planetarium and learn about nocturnal animals)

Bring your binoculars and bird guide. Some binoculars are available at Northerly Island for anyone who doesn't own their own pair.

Even if we don't see the Short-eared Owls, Northerly Island has many beautiful avian species - you'll surely see something!

Hope to see you,


Beyond My Comprehension

Posted on 1 October 2008 by Dawn Keller

Although I realize that the subject of trapping might be a polarizing issue, I feel compelled to share with you some information on trapping. We're not talking about trapping of nuisance wildlife - perhaps I'll save that topic for another time. We're talking about trapping of furbearing animals.

Traps may be set illegally or legally. In the event that traps are illegally set, it is Flint Creek Wildlife's responsibility not only to treat the injured animal, but also to report such illegal activity to the Conservation Police within the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. In the case of a legally set trap, there isn't much that we can do....

The animals that enter our doors as a result of trapping injuries present about the most horrific situations we ever encounter. If you doubt my words, go back and read my November 23, 2007 blog entry "The Perception of Pain".

Some animals caught in traps survive, like the Beaver pictured below that we removed from a snare trap, while others like the Coyote mentioned above that was caught in a land-installed double conibear trap do not. Whether they survive or not, it is my opinion that each of them experiences fear and pain unparalleled to what we see from other injuries including those that are hit by car, shot, poisoned and run over by lawnmowers.

So in a struggle against time, we work on an animal that is already scared beyond belief and try to save the life that someone else tried to take away. It is simply beyond my comprehension.