Category Archives: FCWR

Posts related to Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation. I did the Raptor Internship there in early 2010.

Super Shield

Zen and me

Back in October I got to spend just a bit of quality time with Zen, FCWR’s education Cooper’s Hawk. Due to their high-strung nature, Cooper’s Hawks aren’t often kept as glove-trained education birds.

Cooper's Hawk feather beauty

Sitting with beautiful Zen, I couldn’t help staring at his piercing eyes and his super-cool superciliary ridges.

Zen

The superciliary ridge is also known as the supraorbital ridge. It’s that bony shield above the eye, kind of like a brow line on steroids, that gives many raptors a sort of “angry bird” look. The ridges serve to block out glare from the sun. They also provide protection to the eyes. Pretty neat to see close-up, yes?

Zen's superciliary ridge

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Teacher vultures

I recently started learning to handle birds at my new volunteer gig at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. It’s very interesting to me how the equipment and procedures are a bit different than what I learned at Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation. I have started working with the handsome American Kestrel Newton, who I got to handle on the glove for a couple of hours at a program two weeks ago. Oh, it was such a joy for me to hold this precious little avian ambassador and talk with visitors during the event.

Since today is International Vulture Awareness Day, I’ve been thinking about vultures on the glove. None of the vultures at ACBOP are glove trained, but that may be for the best in my case, since I don’t have the best track record with vultures. The first time I tried to handle Junior the Turkey Vulture I ended up with a little scar on my hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love vultures, just love ’em, but after ACBOP’s Uff-da went after my ankle, I think the feeling is not quite mutual.

Anyway, vultures are part of raptor education programs and are glove trained at centers all over the world. Here are some cool photos I found on Flickr of vultures on the glove, in flight programs, or educating the public in zoos. Thanks to the photographers for sharing their photos with a Creative Commons license.

Vulture
Eurasian Griffon on the glove | Vulture by Maurice Koop

Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vulture on the glove | Turkey Vulture by Michael @ NW Lens

2008-07-06-13h26m55.IMG_2116le
White-backed Vulture flight program | 2008-07-06-13h26m55.IMG_2116le by A.J. Haverkamp

Vulture
American Black Vulture on the glove | Vulture by RichardGlenSailors

Andean Condor being fed
Hand feeding an Andean Condor | Andean Condor being fed by San Diego Shooter

Vera takes off
Lappet-faced Vulture flight program | Vera takes off by *Pete

Sailing
Palm-nut Vulture in jesses | Sailing by patries71

Rodney - Hooded vulture
Hooded Vulture flying to glove | Rodney – Hooded vulture by piX1966

Ybgvt_1b
Cape Griffon Vulture in your face | Ybgvt_1b by gvgoebel

Jack Hanna ~ rare Egyptian Vulture
Egyptian Vulture with celebrity zookeeper | Jack Hanna ~ rare Egyptian Vulture by something.from.nancy

Rüppell's Vulture
Rüppell’s Vultures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge | Rüppell’s Vulture by Powered By Birds

David with the White Headed Vulture
White-headed Vulture on the glove | David with the White Headed Vulture by Richard Towell

Felix the Vulture
Cinereous Vulture on falconry perch | Felix the Vulture by RCanine

2008-03-15-13h14m52.IMG_3562e
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture on the glove | 2008-03-15-13h14m52.IMG_3562e by A.J. Haverkamp

IMG_8945e
King Vulture on the glove | IMG_8945e by A.J. Haverkamp

California Condor portrait
California Condor at the zoo | California Condor portrait by San Diego Shooter

cincinnati zoo vulture feeding
American Black Vulture goofing off | cincinnati zoo vulture feeding by Paul J Everett

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Posted in ACBOP, FCWR, Festivals & Events, Rehabilitation, Zoo | Leave a comment

Results: Birding Goals for 2011

When I made my list of birding goals for 2011 back in December 2010, I had no idea that I would be moving from Illinois to Florida in the middle of the year. Even with that fairly major disruption, I didn’t really do too badly with my goals.

1. I wanted to get my life list in order. I expected this would take at least several weeks, but I went on an eBird binge and accomplished this goal before January was half over!

2. I wanted to read, review and cycle out at least 20 books. Here I failed rather miserably. I ended up reviewing just 11 books.

3. I wanted to improve my raptor handling skills, with a few specific tasks I wanted to accomplish: handle birds into and out of travel crates; handle a bird during flight training; and have one of my bird pals eat a meal while on my glove. Helping out with a few programs and the Raptor Internship at FCWR, I got to handle plenty of birds in and out of crates. I moved away before getting to work on the other two, but during my visit in November I gave Meepy a rat while she sat on my glove. She wasn’t overly interested so I proceeded to remove her equipment, both Meepy and the rat resting on my glove. After I got Meepy’s second jess removed, I offered the rat to her again. She was free to go but she took the rat and then she did something very cool, she snapped the rat’s spine! Of course the rat was already dead, but that was Meepy’s first action after taking the rat from me. I was wowed. She held onto the rat for a moment and I felt she was not going to eat it while still on my glove. I raised my arm and she flew to her perch with the rat in her beak. That was pretty awesome. I never got to work on flight training with any birds, so that is one I’ll have to save for the future.


L: Getting Spirit out; top R: putting PA away; bottom R: putting 0511 away

4. I also wanted to improve my bird banding skills. I was only able to help out at the Rollins Savanna MAPS station one day (plus a short training period), and I haven’t visited a banding station here in Florida yet. Another goal unfortunately unfulfilled, for now.


American Robin in my hand with 2011 Rollins banding team in background; photo by Janice Sweet

5. I wanted to keep a BIGBY list for the year, with a target of 75 species. I set that number when we were still in Illinois, of course. I met this target, and then some, with a total of 88 BIGBY species for 2011.

6. My 2011 Bird-a-Day list pooped out after 23 days. I hadn’t set a specific goal here, but this was pretty pathetic. In my defense, my life was really, really hectic those first weeks of the year.

7. Finally, and a bit tongue-in-cheek, I wanted to keep up with my blog reading. While I ended up adding a bunch of new Florida bird bloggers to my regular reading, I didn’t fall too far behind at any point in the year, and I’m happy with that.

Coming up: my birding and blog goals for 2012. Did you have any goals for 2011? How did you do?

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Best Bird of the Year 2011

It should come as no surprise to anyone with any familiarity with this blog that my best bird of 2011 is actually a pair of birds: the Mooseheart Bald Eaglets.


The first baby Bald Eagle flies free!

The adventure began back at the end of May, when FCWR became aware of a downed Bald Eagle nest in Mooseheart, Illinois. The race was on to keep the parent Bald Eagles on site and replace the fallen nest, reuniting the baby eagles with their parents.

Eaglet On Ground
One of the eaglets on the ground

When the parents unfortunately failed to care for the babies in the new, human-made nest, the eaglets were brought back to FCWR for care. Arthur and I helped with their initial enclosure – complete with a new “nest” – but this was only a very tiny part of their time in the care of FCWR. The eaglets were eventually transferred to a new, large flight chamber, where they learned to fly and all of the other skills they would need to be released back into the wild.

The release at Starved Rock State Park was magical, and I feel so lucky to have been able to attend as a FCWR volunteer. Both babies flew strong from their release site on Plum Island.

In case you missed the release videos, here they are:

If you click through to the older blog posts, you’ll see more photos and video of these beautiful birds. The Mooseheart Eaglets were easily the highlight of my 2011!

Mooseheart eaglet rescue 1

Mooseheart eaglet rescue part 2

Mooseheart Bald Eaglets to be released next week!

Starved Rock Eaglet Release

Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation is a non-profit, federally licensed rehab organization with locations in Chicago and Barrington, Illinois. You can follow their blog here, follow them on Facebook here, and make donations online here. This post reflects my own experiences as a volunteer with FCWR. Any errors are purely my own, and opinions here do not necessarily reflect those of FCWR.

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Posted in FCWR, Festivals & Events, Illinois, Rehabilitation | 1 Comment

Birding Highlights 2011

When I sat down to reflect upon the ups and downs of 2010 about a year ago I had no idea what was in store for me in 2011. Moving out of Illinois wasn’t on my radar at all. Now I sit here in my Florida home just one year later, looking back on twelve months that saw a lot of personal ups and downs, and one huge change – the move to DeBary.

But what about the birding? Here are my 2011 bird-type highlights.

Moving from northern Illinois to central Florida was a major highlight, bird-wise, even though it meant I’d be missing a lot. The below photo shows your blogger at Gemini Springs, the new local patch.

Blogger

I managed to pick up a whopping 35 life birds in 2011! With just 285 ABA lifers, it’s still not too tough to pick up new birds. 15 of the birds were found in Illinois (including the Ogle County Snowy Owl), and the remaining 20 were all found in Florida.

Six of those life birds were picked up on my first-ever pelagic birding experience on a voyage out of Ponce Inlet in September.

One of those lifers was a rather out-of-range western treat in our own Florida back yard: a Western Tanager.

Early in the year I helped out with the Raptor Internship at FCWR. I had a lot of fun helping the new volunteers learn about handling raptors and I made a lot of friends (who I still miss every day). Of course spending time with some amazing birds is always special. This is Darwin puffed up on a particularly cold day.

My very best bird experience of the year also came courtesy of Flint Creek, and I’ll share that with you tomorrow (though regular readers will surely have no problem guessing my #1 for 2011!). Stay tuned!

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Posted in FCWR, Florida, Gemini Springs, Illinois, Life List, Yard Birds | 1 Comment

THANK YOU! (was: URGENT Call For Help!)

November 23, 2011 – I’m updating this post to sincerely THANK ALL OF MY FRIENDS AND READERS who voted for FCWR in the recent Chase Community Giving Campaign on Facebook which ended Tuesday, November 22nd. The vote was close at the end and FCWR got a huge push of support when they really needed it! In the final ranking they ended up at #77 and will receive much-needed funding of $25,000. Thank you, thank you, thank you! – Amy

Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation is participating in the Chase Community Giving Campaign on Facebook which ends in just under two hours. Charities in the top 100 at the end of voting will receive $25,000 of funding, but FCWR has slipped out of the top 100. Please take just a moment to help the animals and vote for Flint Creek in this campaign. When you vote, the button says “VOTE AND SHARE” but you are NOT required to share anything on your Facebook wall. Please vote, please share, please help the animals.

This post originally appeared on Birdorable

If you’re on Facebook or you know someone who is, please consider supporting our favorite wildlife rehabber, Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation, with a vote in the Chase Community Giving Campaign. Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation is a private, not-for-profit organization in the Chicago area treating over 3,400 animals annually! The vote is completely free and gives Flint Creek the chance to get funding from $25,000 to $250,000, depending on where they end up in the final vote.

Voting just takes a moment!
Visit the Chase Community Giving application and vote for FCWR!

Vote Now

Flint Creek recently released a pair of orphaned Bald Eagles back to the wild after raising them to independence so be sure to check out their Facebook page and look for photos of that fantastic event.

Some of you may know that we (Arthur and Amy) volunteered with FCWR and that this all-volunteer wildlife rescue organization means a lot to both of us. Your support would be greatly appreciated and remember, it doesn’t cost anything! Please vote if you’re on Facebook and share the word with your family and friends, too. Voting ends November 22nd.

For more information about Flint Creek check out their website or Facebook page.

Thank you!

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Posted in Charity, Conservation, FCWR | 2 Comments

Starved Rock Eaglet Release

Saturday was magical.


The first eaglet flies free!

Two beautiful young Bald Eagles were released at Starved Rock State Park on a perfect fall day.

So many people came to share the day with Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation.

A short program started at 11AM and when I walked out with Darwin I was amazed at the huge crowd, the bird paparazzi, all the positive energy.

Media and fans have been posting photos, videos, and beautiful tributes on FCWR’s Facebook page and elsewhere on the web. The coverage has been phenomenal. The following list is just a handful:

Chicago Tribune blog: bald eagles gone wild
Chicago Tribune video: Rescued eagles released at Starved Rock
Daily Herald: Eaglets rescued at Mooseheart released at Starved Rock
Sun-Times: Mooseheart’s eaglets return to the wild
Kane County Chronicle: Mooseheart eagles take flight at Starved Rock
St. Charles Patch: Up and Away: Mooseheart Eaglets Soar …
Flickr: Returned to the wild!
Blog: Mooseheart Eagles … First Flight Toward Their New Home
Facebook album (FCWR): Mooseheart Eagles’ Release Day
Facebook album: Mooseheart Eaglet Release and More
Facebook album: Eagle Release
My Facebook album: Bald Eagle Release

Photogs
Transporting the eaglets to Plum Island for the release; Phil & Scott photograph the crowd

Crowd
The crowd waits for the eaglet release

The releases on Plum Island were spectacular. The birds flew strong and the crowd was mesmerized.


The release of the first eaglet


The release of the second eaglet

The program afterwards drew another huge crowd. Journey was a star and everyone was amazed by his story, and by his beauty.

Journey
Journey and Dawn

My heart was completely full of love from being with so many friends, old and new, feathered and otherwise. It was truly a magical day. If only Arthur was here with me, it would have been absolutely perfect.

Pip
Pip, Bill and Kim

Kotori
Kotori and Frank

If you are on Facebook, please take just a moment to help FCWR in the Chase Community Giving campaign. Voting is FREE and each vote gives FCWR a chance at a bigger funding amount. Please vote and share with your friends.

Darwin
Darwin and a very happy blogger. I’m still smiling!

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Posted in FCWR, Festivals & Events | 1 Comment

Mooseheart Bald Eaglets to be released next week!


Click HERE for larger version of the flyer. Visit the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation page for details.

I am so excited to be able to join my Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation friends next Saturday, November 12th, at Starved Rock State Park for a very special event. Regular blog readers may remember that back in the early summer, a Bald Eagle nest fell to the ground in Mooseheart, Illinois. The two eaglets inside were unharmed, but the parent birds weren’t caring for the baby birds so the eaglets were recovered, checked for injuries and general health, and later placed back into an artificial nest erected by volunteers.

Eaglet On Ground
One of the Mooseheart babies on the ground

When the parent eagles unfortunately did not accept the new nest, the eaglets were brought to Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation until they would be old enough to survive in the wild. That date is coming up very soon – next Saturday!! I’m flying up to Chicago to be there for the release and I’m just bursting. I miss my FCWR friends so much!

The event should be spectacular. The release is open to the public, with a $10 minimum suggested donation to help defray the huge costs of building a flight chamber large enough for the eaglets. In case you’re wondering what that flight chamber looks like, FCWR posted the below video of the eaglets. Look at them, aren’t they beautiful!? If you watch closely, you might see an adult Bald Eagle in the chamber with the youngsters. The adult is non-releasable due to a permanent wing injury. He’s serving as a role model for the eaglets.

In preparation for the release, the eaglets were recently banded by a licensed eagle bander from Wisconsin. Scott Strazzante from the Chicago Tribune recorded some of that day’s events, which you can find here and here.

Will I see you at the release? The weather report looks favorable, but please note that for the safety of the birds, the release could be postponed due to inclement weather. If you’d like to see more of the eaglets, FCWR has posted photos on their Facebook page.

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Posted in FCWR, Festivals & Events, Illinois, Rehabilitation | Leave a comment

(My) Owls of Illinois

I get a lot of blog visitors from Google searches for “Owls of Illinois” or similar. Not wanting to disappoint all those readers who end up at my totally non-comprehensive Snowy Owl!!! post, here are the owls you can find in Illinois, with a focus on the Chicago area and suburbs, and my own experiences.

Barred Owl

Meepy and me
My second time handling beautiful Meepy, February 2010

Although probably not the most abundant owl found in Illinois, I had to start with my personal favorite bird species, the Barred Owl. They range throughout the entire state, where they can be found in riparian and swampy habitat. They were hard to come by up in Lake County, where we lived, but more common in other parts of the state. Barred Owls are non-migratory. I was lucky enough to see one on an “owl prowl” at Lake County’s Ryerson Woods in November, 2010. Barred Owls are distributed widely across the eastern part of North America and into northern parts of western North America. Because of their spread into the Pacific Northwest, they have been identified as a threat to the endangered Spotted Owl.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl
Pennsylvania and me, May 2011

These birds are abundant across much of North America, and can be found all over Illinois. They are highly adaptable and live successfully in a wide variety of habitats, including suburban yards and urban forests. I saw my first Illinois Great Horned Owls (an adult and two chicks) at Grant Woods Forest Preserve in Lake County in April 2011, although I had heard them many, many times before. Great Horned Owls don’t build their own nests; instead, they may use old squirrel or hawk nests, or tree cavities; they may even nest on or in deserted buildings.

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl
Kotori at the Flint Creek Wildlife open house, December 2009

Eastern Screech Owls range across the eastern part of North American and are common throughout Illinois. This species has two distinct color morphs: Eastern Screech Owls are either rufous or gray in plumage. Despite their relative abundance, I have only heard these little nocturnal predators, the first one at McHenry County’s Glacial Park at a December 2009 “owl prowl”.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl
Flight training with Pip, March 2010

Despite being a fairly cosmopolitan species (breeding on every continent but Antarctica), Barn Owls are an Illinois endangered species. Although I was fortunate to be able to spend time with FCWR’s Pip, so far I haven’t seen a wild Barn Owl in Illinois. Last year, Lake-Cook Audubon hosted a very well-attended talk by Steve Bailey about Illinois owls. Bailey’s presentation sparked the club to start a Barn Owl box program, which is ongoing after finally obtaining all the required permits for placing boxes in certain Lake County preserves. If the program is successful, maybe it won’t be so hard to find Barn Owls in Lake County, Illinois in the future.

Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl
Spirit at an informal program, October 2010

Long-eared Owls, a bird missing from my life list, irregularly visit parts of Illinois during the winter. They frequent open fields with nearby woodlands and if undisturbed will often hang out in the same place for weeks at a time, which makes them fairly twitchable. Unfortunately, a story I heard quite often from other area birders was of a roost of Long-eared Owls at a park in Chicago’s South Loop. Though the birds were comfortable in the urban setting in which they chose to winter, the hoards of birders who came in trying to add them to their lists was a disruption and the birds eventually left. I did get to see one special Long-eared Owl, FCWR’s Spirit, up close several times. I even got to handle her once at a program, which was a real treat.

Short-eared Owl

Glacial Park, McHenry County Illinois
Short-eared Owl habitat at Glacial Park, December 2010

Short-eared Owls are another species that visits parts of Illinois during the winter. They are frequently found in the same habitat as Northern Harriers, and share their low-flying butterfly-like flight pattern. I remember these birds being reported at Rollins Savanna quite frequently, but I never lucked out to see them there. I added Short-eared Owl to my life list in December 2010, during an owl program at Glacial Park in December 2010.

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
Lifer Snowy Owl, Ogle County Illinois, January 2011

Snowy Owls visit Illinois during some winters, depending on food supplies (lemming population, mainly) up north. Usually solitary, lone birds may be found hunting in agricultural fields. That’s where I got my lifer Snowy Owl last winter in Ogle county.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl
Me and a just-banded Northern Saw-whet Owl, Sand Bluff Banding Station, October 2010

Northern Saw-whet Owls are extremely cute little owls that come through northern Illinois during migration. A few birds may spend the year in forested habitat. Science has learned a lot about the migration habits of Saw-whet Owls from banding programs. Though I have never seen a Northern Saw-whet Owl in the wild, I was amazed to see them up close at a banding program in October last year. I even got to hold one of these precious cuties before it was released back into the wild.

Burrowing Owl


Three Burrowing Owls

Burrowing Owls are a southern species, and only very rarely visit the state. This is another species that I have yet to add to my life list. An unfortunate story about this species, too, was brought up a lot in local birding circles. A lone Burrowing Owl was found at Montrose Beach in October 2008, and became a huge attraction to local birders. Birders trying to flush the bird may have contributed to its eventual demise by the claw of a Cooper’s Hawk.

Here in Florida I don’t expect to find several of the species mentioned above, including Snowy Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl. Burrowing Owls are relatively common so I hope to add them to my life list soon. And I am still waiting for a Barred Owl, very very common here, to show up in our back yard. 🙂

Since so many of the photos in this post are of Flint Creek owls, here’s a bit more information about them: Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation is a non-profit, federally licensed rehab organization with locations in Chicago and Barrington, Illinois. You can follow their blog here, follow them on Facebook here, and make donations online here. This post reflects my own experiences as a volunteer with FCWR. Any errors are purely my own, and opinions here do not necessarily reflect those of FCWR.

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Posted in FCWR, Illinois | 26 Comments

Celebrate Migration at IBSP this weekend!

Here’s an event I wish I could attend! The Illinois Beach State Park Hawk Watch will celebrate their third annual “Migration Celebration” on Saturday, October 15th – and all are welcome! I attended last year as a handler with FCWR and I had so much fun. The weather looks perfect for raptor migration this weekend, so head out to IBSP this Saturday!


Turkey Vultures migrate over the IBSP Hawk Watch. Here’s Turkey Jr at the Migration Celebration last year.

If the prospect of hot hawk migration action isn’t enough to excite you, though, the “Migration Celebration” has more to offer visitors.


Scopes lined up at Hawk Watch during last year’s Migration Celebration

There will be an hour-long bird walk starting at 7:30am. Birding at Illinois Beach State Park is usually excellent, and if raptors are on the move, chances are other migrants are also around.

There will also be things to keep children busy – fun and educational raptor-themed activities.

And of course, like last year, Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation will be in attendance with education raptors on the glove. The Ferruginous Hawk Journey will be there. If you don’t know about Journey’s amazing story, it was covered by ABC Chicago earlier this year: Hawk travels 1,500 miles by train.


Beautiful Journey. This photo was taken during his first public appearance in early 2011.

So pack up your binoculars and head to IBSP this Saturday! I really wish I could be there!


0511 and me in the wind during last year’s Migration Celebration

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Posted in FCWR, Festivals & Events, Hawk Watch | 1 Comment