"Baby, it's cold outside!": Week 2, featuring Phoenix and Elliott

"Baby, it's cold outside!": Week 2, featuring Phoenix and Elliott

In this week’s post about how OBS changes in the winter we’re featuring Phoenix and Elliott! Both of these birds are avian ambassadors who come inside to live in the winter.

Let’s start with Phoenix! Phoenix is a Harris hawk, a species native to the southwestern United States as well as Mexico and parts of South America. This bird’s habitat consists of deserts and savannah areas. Since Phoenix is not used to the cold temperatures up here, he comes inside in the winter time.

Phoenix is a human imprint, so he enjoys interacting with the staff of OBS.  He gets the star treatment when he comes inside for winter! He has a room with perches and windows, with one set of windows looking outside and the other window looking into our office. Phoenix enjoys being “in” on everything going on day to day at the Sanctuary.

In addition to perches and windows, we also provide Phoenix with plenty of enrichment items. Sticks, paper towel tubes, paper towels, grass, leaves, and other items allow him to have plenty of choices in his environment. Phoenix often starts exhibiting nesting behaviors and uses all of these items to work on a nest in the corner of his room.  

Check out the video below: We gave Phoenix some grasses for enrichment and he tried to carry all of it all at once!  Ever feel that way? 


In the wild, predatory birds are primarily concerned with only a few things, mostly finding food and having their own territory. Phoenix’s room allows him to have his own space and the enrichment we provide him gives him plenty of choices in that space. Throw in the fact that he doesn’t have to constantly worry about where his next meal is coming from and Phoenix is a content bird!

Elliott is our resident black vulture. Although turkey vultures migrate south for the winter, black vultures typically do not. So while Elliott probably could stay outside all winter long, we, as in I, the Curator and Elliott’s surrogate parent, decide to spoil him and bring him inside.

When I say we spoil him, I mean we thoroughly spoil him, too! Elliott gets to hang out all day in our clinic area. He spends the night in an enclosure like any of the other birds, but during the day he has the entire clinic to play in. This means that the space has to be child-proofed, because much like any small toddler, he is very good at getting into everything! We keep him busy with plenty of enrichment. Like Phoenix, Elliott is also a human imprint, so he enjoys hanging out with the staff during the day.

Check out the video of Elliott enjoying a bath inside in the middle of the winter! 


Next week our blog will feature Kevin, our osprey, so check back in! 

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