Young Red-shouldered Hawk with injured wing
When an injured bird arrives at the Sanctuary, there are several things we look for. Does the bird have any obvious fractures or injuries? Is the bird able to fly and/or stand up? Is the bird alert? After initial diagnosis, we provide treatment. For example, if the bird has a broken wing, we stabilize the fracture by wrapping the wing and treat the bird's pain. If the fracture requires surgery, we coordinate with a licensed veterinarian. Then it is a matter of providing food, water, rest and continuing care while healing takes place. During this time, the bird is kept indoors in a smaller space to discourage movement. Think about it: If you have a broken arm, you take it easy for a few weeks. You don't go rock-climbing or play sports. Similarly, a bird with a broken wing needs to take it easy.
If the bird's injuries heal well, the bird is moved outdoors into our flight complex, a large octagon-shaped structure that allows continuous flight. Here the bird will be able to exercise and regain the strength necessary for release. If the bird is a juvenile and we are unsure of its ability to hunt, we will test this skill as well. Once we are confident that the bird can return successfully to life in the wild, we will schedule its release. If you brought the bird to us, we will often contact you to come pick it up so that the bird may be returned to its home territory. This promotes the bird's success. The entire rehabilitation process may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
Dr. Hull doing eye examination of Barn Owl
Our goal is to release birds back into the wild. Unfortunately, sometimes injuries do not heal fully or well. In this case, we will determine if the bird has a good temperament for life as an avian ambassador, educating people about its species in the wild. We believe in each bird having a good quality of life in captivity. While it is never an easy choice, we do believe in a humane, peaceful method of euthanasia if release and a good quality of life are not possible.
Video of Releases