Category Archives: FCWR

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

What a difference

What a difference a year makes! It’s hard for me to believe, but it was just about a year ago that I had “first contact” with Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation. I visited the Itasca facility during the annual Open House. There I learned about the Raptor Internship, which I would later take. I learned about the Rescue & Recovery teams that save migratory birds in downtown Chicago, which I would join in the spring. I learned about the education birds, the clinic that saves lives, and got just a taste of all of the amazing work done by this hard working organization.

Pip the handsome Barn Owl, one of FCWR’s education birds

The 2010 Open House takes place this weekend, and I’ll be back, this time as a volunteer. The Open House is a great way to learn about not only FCWR specifically, but also about education birds – there will be live raptors for you to meet! – and about wildlife rehabilitation.

And if you care about the welfare of wildlife, especially Chicago area wildlife, think about what a difference YOU can make! Please consider making a donation to Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation this holiday season. Illinois birders, I’m especially talking to you! FCWR does tremendous work to help our injured feathered friends (the bulk of which are injured directly or indirectly through accidental or intentional human contact, interference, or stupidity) and other area animals in need. FCWR has an annual fundraising campaign, going on now, via FirstGiving. Donating is extremely easily done online via the FirstGiving site (the link will take you to my fundraising page). You can donate ANY AMOUNT, and each donation helps FCWR save lives. You can also donate to FCWR directly via Paypal.

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Flint Creek GHOW release

Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation released a rehabilitated Great Horned Owl at a public event in Winnetka, Illinois on Saturday, November 20th. I handled Justice, a GHOW in Flint Creek’s education program, as the program began. Then fellow volunteer Kim took Justice and spoke to the crowd, which included a lot of kids.

Amy and Justice

Kim and Justice

After the program, it was time for the rehabilitated GHOW (nicknamed Winnetka) to be released. Although released facing some nearby trees, the bird turned and flew over the crowd, which was a thrill for everyone.

Some press photographers and reporters were there and the story or photos were published online in a few places:

I’m thankful for a lot of things in my life, including family, friends, health and happiness. I’m thankful I found Flint Creek Wildlife this year and that I’m able to help in my own small way. I’m thankful that Winnetka is flying free today. Happy Thanksgiving, readers and fellow bird lovers.

Amy and Justice

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Migration Awareness 9

This morning Arthur and I are walking our Rescue & Recovery route to look for fallen injured or dead birds that have struck buildings in Chicago during the night and early morning. This is our fifth week volunteering for R&R this fall (we were off last week). During these weeks, Iโ€™d like to highlight some of the perils birds face on their migration by sharing a website or information about migratory birds.

This week has been rough on birds migrating through Chicago. The teams out earlier this week had large numbers of birds that hit windows in the city. Tuesday was particularly heavy, and a local news station picked up the story.

We prepared extra paper bags last night in anticipation of what may be another heavy wave of migration Wednesday night. We’ll be in the city by 4am Thursday morning.

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Good luck, oriole!

Yesterday Arthur and I were privileged to be able to release an adult male Baltimore Oriole. The bird was in treatment with Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation for about ten days after suffering a head trauma. The release was done, with permission, at a Lake County Forest Preserve.

Baltimore Oriole release 1

A shoe box was used to transport the oriole to the release site. After the lid was lifted, the bird hesitated for only a very brief moment before flying up into a low tree. He spent some time flitting around a small group of trees before finally flying high into a tree far away from us, where we lost sight of him.

Baltimore Oriole release 4

Baltimore Oriole release 2

Baltimore Oriole release 5

This was our first release and it was awesome. It was so wonderful to watch this now-healthy bird flying away, adjusting to his surroundings, and taking off to live the rest of his life. Good luck, oriole!

Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation posted these photos on their Facebook page. If you’re on Facebook, why not become a fan of Flint Creek? You can also visit the FCWR website to learn more about their amazing work and, oh yeah, make a donation. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Press, award, hiatus

In just over two weeks, two events where I volunteered got some local press coverage. First, in July I handled at an owl program at a library in Lake Zurich. There were four of us there, with three handling. I had Pip the Barn Owl, who ended up being very photogenic, keeping his wings outspread much of the time. Lucky for me, I’m in half of the pictures. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The event didn’t generate a story, but the photos are posted on the Pioneer Press website.

Then, last week, two local papers visited the banding station at Rollins Savanna. The Herald ran the story on their website the same day. The story is front (web) page news today on the Pioneer Press site. They even had a video of the team! There was a photo album as well, but the links are no longer available [as of March 2012 – ed].

Late last month this blog was honored as a Top 50 Bird Blog by I’m humbled to find myself listed among so many top bloggers. Go check out the list: 2010 Top 50 Bird Blog Awards Winners. Nominations for the 2011 award can already be submitted. [OnlineSchools has discontinued their blog award program as of June 2012 – ed]

Arthur and I are traveling to the Netherlands this month. We will be visiting with family and friends, taking a short break in Paris, taking care of some business, and marveling at how much has changed since we were last in Holland (September 2008 – how time flies!). Hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze some birding in, as well, but I have a feeling blogging will be difficult. I have a few posts scheduled to run while I’m away, so this blog won’t drop off the radar completely during this mini-hiatus. I’ll be back with minty fresh blog posts in a few weeks! Until then, dear readers, please enjoy these last days of summer!

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Posted in Banding, FCWR, LCFPD | 1 Comment

Extreme Raptor Handling

Today I’ll be volunteering for the second time at Flint Creek’s Itasca facility. Last Tuesday was my first time (an earlier scheduled date got nixed at the last moment) working on maintenance and handling as a volunteer. Unfortunately it was just not my day and I ended up with a few ‘war wounds’ from the birds. All scratches are healed up nicely by now, but last week’s less-than-perfect experience has been on my mind.

Yesterday, a friend on Facebook shared a neat BBC video of Harpy Eagles in Venezuela. I wondered if Harpy Eagles, the largest and most powerful raptors found in the Americas, are ever used as education birds. On Flickr I found my answer.

Harpy Eagle I
Harpy Eagle I by jitze, Creative Commons on Flickr

I started wondering about other large raptors used in education programs. Flickr to the rescue:

The Eagle Owl Has Landed!
The Eagle Owl [one of the largest owl species] Has Landed! by me’nthedogs, Creative Commons on Flickr

ye olde andean condor
ye olde andean condor [largest wingspan of all flighted birds] by poetrosakranse, Creative Commons on Flickr

Brian Latta and Female Golden Eagle Lola brian-latta-golden-eagle-lola-20
Brian Latta and Female Golden Eagle Lola brian-latta-golden-eagle-lola-20 by mikebaird, Creative Commons on Flickr

I need a bigger glove : Steller's Sea Eagle
I need a bigger glove : Steller’s Sea Eagle [the world’s heaviest eagle] by Paul Stevenson, Creative Commons on Flickr

Verreux Eagle Owl
Verreux Eagle Owl [aka Giant Eagle Owl; Africa’s largest owl] by ahisgett, on Flickr

Great Gray Owl Strix nebulosa
Great Gray Owl [one of the largest owl species] Strix nebulosa by sanbeiji, Creative Commons on Flickr

Wedge Tailed Eagle
Wedge Tailed Eagle [one of the world’s largest raptor species] by wesley chau, Creative Commons on Flickr

And here is someone with a Martial Eagle on the glove: Martial Eagle [Africa’s largest eagle].

Whoa, right? I need to remember that I’m still very new at this raptor handling business. I want to get to know the birds better, and meet new birds, and increase my handling skills — but patience is key. Maybe someday (far in the future!) I’ll be able to work with birds like these. First, at least one day without losing any blood with Flint Creek’s regulars. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Posted in FCWR, Zoo | 4 Comments

After 3 hours, a Red-tailed Hawk feels like 20 lbs.

Last Saturday I helped handle birds for a Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation program held at the Barn Owl Garden Center in Carol Stream, Illinois. I looked like a wet rat after catching up a couple of birds in the pouring rain, but I was really pleased that all went well after having not seen the birds for several weeks. I put equipment on Meepy the Barred Owl before she was whisked off to meet the mayor (!!), and then I caught up 0511 the Red-tailed Hawk.

There were four of us handing birds at the garden center. Here I am with 0511; Kim is holding Junior the Great Horned Owl, and Tina is holding Pip the Barn Owl. Karen was holding Turkey Junior (a handsome Turkey Vulture) and was kind enough to let me use this photo she took of the rest of us.

The program consisted of us holding the birds while the public came by, oohing and aahing and asking questions. Mostly people like to hear what kinds of things the birds eat, how long they live, and other vital statistics like that. They also want to know the circumstances about the bird becoming an education raptor. Many of the birds in Flint Creek’s care were being raised illegally by members of the public and became imprinted on humans, making them unreleasable. Questions about the birds’ backgrounds became good opportunities for us to educate people on certain wildlife “dos and don’ts” (mostly “don’ts!”).

Often people would start to tell a story about a raptor or other birds they have seen in their back yard. It’s great to hear other people who are genuinely interested in their local wildlife. Some stories throw me, though, like when people say they regularly have a hawk on their lawn that’s twice as big as the bird I was holding – a female Red-tailed Hawk. Hmm!

On Saturday we were also often questioned about the birds’ weights, especially when we would use our non-holding hand for a bit of support. 0511 probably doesn’t weight more than 3.5 lbs, but my arm was numb after holding her for three hours. Still, I couldn’t resist taking Meepy for a bit when she arrived later in the afternoon.

It was a fun program and I enjoyed myself! I closed out the day putting both Meepy and 0511 back in their mews. Today I’ll be volunteering at Flint Creek’s Itasca facility for the first time. Can’t wait to see the birds again!

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Meepy fix

Today I helped out at an event at the Wild Bird Center in Fox River Grove. Flint Creek brought six education birds and I was one of the volunteer handlers for the informal program. This was my second program and I had a lot of fun but I get very shy and nervous in front of crowds (no matter how large or small) so I’m not a star with the ‘education’ part – yet. Hopefully I will get better with some experience.

At the program were Meepy, Kotori, Old Red, Darwin, Pip, and Zen. I love them all but it’s no secret Meepy is my favorite, and it was about time I got my Meepy fix. I hadn’t seen her for almost three weeks!

Meepy the Barred Owl

Arthur drove out with me and my parents also stopped by; this was the first time any of them saw me holding a bird.

It was a great afternoon and I’m really looking forward to future programs!

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Hungry, squirmy and precious

On the last day of our internship, during the lunch break Dawn had to feed some baby squirrels. I got a chance to feed one of the older babies.

It is important to note that this was done under strict supervision of a licensed wild animal rehabilitator. Untrained members of the public should NEVER EVER (even if you think you can!) feed a baby squirrel – or any other wild animal. If you are a friend to animals, the right thing to do when you find a wild animal in trouble is to get in touch with a licensed rehabber.

Okay, on to the photos!

During feeding time, the squirrels are taken from the incubator and placed in a shoebox for transport.

First Dawn fed the younger babies.

Then I got to feed an older girl. She was hungry, squirmy and precious. I enjoyed every moment!

Many thanks to my classmate Lee for taking the photos of me feeding the squirrel!

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Raptor Internship Week 12

Last Tuesday was the final day of the Raptor Internship I took at Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation this spring. After 11 weeks of lecture, study and handling work, we spent the first part of week 12 taking our 150-question test and practical examination. After passing the practical portion we were able to take a walk with Old Red, FCWR’s wise old Red-tailed Hawk, on our own. This was the first time we were able to walk solo with a such a big bird. She was magnificent! I did get a few photos during the day, but not of raptors – and I’m saving them for a future post on a different subject. Instead, here is a collection of some photos taken throughout the internship.

During the second week we learned about equipment and put together our own falconry gloves. I was distracted by Meepy, who I could see from my classroom chair.

Meepy resting in her mew

In week 4 we worked with the equipment and got to practice removing and applying equipment with Pip, a Barn Owl with a lot of character.

Posing with Pip after the exercise

In week 5 I went to take Meepy out of her mew. This was the first time I took a bird onto my glove. Luckily there was a student reporter in our class with us who documented it (and my awkwardness) in photos.

Meepy thinks about getting on my glove

In week 6 we got to work with Junior for the first time. I was happy to have another stroll with Meepy, too.

Junior and me

Meepy and me

In week 7 I got to walk with a bird on my own for the first time. Darwin the American Kestrel was a perfect gentleman.

Darwin and me

During week 9 I was lucky enough to get to hold a Red-tailed Hawk for the first time. 0511 was a bit restless. I love this photo, even though it’s blurry. I’ve got a look of surprise on my face – I’m feeling 0511’s strong talons on my hand. You can see Dawn, behind us, has a big smile on her face. She’s laughing at my reaction to 0511’s incredible strength.

0511 and me, with Dawn in the background

In week 10 I got to hold Meepy while she was having her beak coped. Later I held FCWR’s longtime resident Old Red.

Meepy and me after the deed

Old Red and me

I enjoyed the internship so much and I’m really sad it’s over. I highly recommend the Raptor Internship! Before it began I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it and I was late signing up, but I’m so glad I did.

Along with Arthur I’m volunteering with Rescue & Recovery during the spring migration. I hope to continue volunteering at FCWR going forward and I’m sure you’ll hear all about it here on the blog!

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