Faces of 2019

Each year we see around 1,000 raptors in our specialized rehabilitation clinic. As we go into 2020, we reflect back on the many success stories of those birds rehabilitated and returned back to the wild. Below are a very small handful of the raptors that came through our clinic in 2019 and are now flying free again!

1. This adult bald eagle was a returning patient to our clinic. She first came to us in 2014 with both a wing and a leg fracture, which we corrected before release. Nearly 5 years later in January of 2019 she returned after a territorial fight ended badly. We patched her up and had her flying free once more. Thanks to the identifying leg bands we put on birds, we are able to understand what happens to them after release, and confirm that our rehabilitative efforts do allow these birds to continue living long and healthy lives.

2. Back in June, two juvenile American kestrel siblings were brought to us. One had a suspected wing injury and the other got trapped in a homeowner's porch. After a brief stay, both were giving a clean bill of health and returned to their parents, where they were later spotted taking their first successful flights.

3. This year we saw a surprising number of nestling red-tailed hawks, keeping us extremely busy in our clinic. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our staff and volunteers, as well as the support from donors and supporters, we were able to rehabilitate and re-nest many of these first-year hawks, such as the one pictured here.

4. This long-eared owl actually came to us late 2018, but had an extended stay with us due to the nature of its injuries, including a coracoid (collarbone) fracture. Thankfully this owl made a full recovery and returned back to the wild in July of this year.

5. Each year we release several raptors at our public Raptor Release event at Carpenter Nature Center to raise awareness of these magnificent birds and what the public can do to keep them safe and flying free. This adult bald eagle was included in that program and wowed the crowd when it was released back to the wild in September.

6. We only see a small handful of osprey each year so each one is a memorable experience. This young osprey came to us with pretty severe internal trauma after striking an object. The trauma was so severe, when it first came to us we thought it might not be able to stand again due to spinal damage. Thankfully after a full checkup and lots of rest, fluids, and the needed medications, this osprey made a full recovery and returned to the wild in August of 2019.

7. 2019 was a very busy year for bald eagles, stretching our capacity with the highest number of eagles in our care at one time! These large and majestic birds require extra care, food, and handling throughout the rehabilitation process. This adult male was rehabilitated in early 2019 and released back to the wild in April.

8. Spring storms delivered to us an influx of very young great horned owls, including the one pictured here. We were able to return this fresh-faced youngster back to its nest after a full checkup determined it was healthy and uninjured. When a nest is damaged or the parents are no longer around, we find suitable foster nests where adoptive parents will raise young raptors to adulthood.

9. In November, this adult barred owl went looking for a cavity to nest in and got stuck in a homeowner's chimney. One of our volunteers rescued it and brought it in to our clinic for medical care before we could return it back to the wild this December.

Each bird has a unique story, and behind every story is a number of people helping to ensure its return to the wild. Thanks to the volunteers who capture and transport injured birds, the clinic crews that treat their injuries, the flight teams that exercise the birds prior to release, and the many donors and supporters ensuring we have the funds and resources to continue this work - thank you all for an amazing and successfull 2019. Looking forward to the New Year, we are excited for what 2020 will bring and what we will accomplish together!

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