Blog Archive March 2009

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