At first glance, it is hard to see what is wrong with this beautiful Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). But, it did suffer a tragic injury from a power line, which caused its left wing to be damaged and eventually amputated.
Most of us are familiar with this species of owl, who makes its home throughout the United States. Because of its inability to fly, it has lived in captivity ever since for the past 14 years making appearances to educate the public.
This was just one of the rescued birds that I had the opportunity to see over this past weekend at a sustainability festival held in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. I was not only interested in seeing these magnificent birds close up, but also to hear their stories.
Harris’s Hawks (Parabuteo unicinctus) are a unique hawk because they nest in groups and work together to hunt, much unlike other birds of prey. These beautiful birds are commonly seen throughout the Southwestern tip of the United States and into Mexico.
This particular bird was injured when it was newly hatched and fell out of its nest. Its right eye was injured and it no longer can see out that eye.
I had an experience with a Harris Hawk baby 12 years ago, when it fell out of its nest in a tall pine tree. Luckily, it was not injured and we were able to get to a rescue facility for birds of prey.
Ravens (Corvus corax), are extremely smart and adaptable birds. They are twice as large as crows and make their home throughout the western United States and throughout Mexico as well as Canada.
Of course, not all birds end up in captivity due to injuries. This Raven was raised as a ‘pet’ and cannot fend for itself out in the wild because it never learned how. It now serves the purpose of educating the public about birds raised in captivity.
I once had a visit from an American Kestral (Falco sparverius) in my back garden, who flew away just as I was reaching for my camera. It was exciting to see this small species of falcon close up. This small bird of prey is found throughout North America.
Birds of prey do not make good ‘pets’, but this American Kestral had been raised in captivity. Soon, it was obvious to its owners that this bird was not meant to be a pet, so they took it to a rehabilitation facility. Like the raven, it is used for educational purposes.
As I made my way through, viewing these rescued birds, my eye fell upon a rather tiny bird…
At first glance, I couldn’t tell what type of hummingbird this was. I knew it was a female and as I looked closer, I noted the green feathers along her back marking her as an Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna), which are year-long residents along the areas of the west coast and southwestern United States.
I asked what was wrong with this tiny bird and was told that a cat had gotten hold of her. She did survive the attack, but both of her wings were injured.
There were additional rescued birds that were not able to be rehabilitated and released out into the wild…
A Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus).
A Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
A Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)
A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).
According to the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association – “The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to provide professional care to sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals so ultimately they can be returned to their natural habitat.” Sadly, that cannot always happen. Occasionally, animals that cannot be rehabilitated are used for educational purposes. I must say that this was a very popular exhibit and people were awed by the beauty of these birds, but also learned a sobering lesson when told the stories behind their ‘rescue’.
Have you ever seen a bird that appeared to need rescuing? It is not always be necessary to step in. Birds & Blooms has an excellent article called “Before You Rescue Birds”, which is a must-read because it gives helpful guidelines for when and when you should not rescue a bird.
If you do find a bird in need of rescue, click here for a list of wildlife rehabilitators in your area.