Friday, October 3, 2008

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Gender: Female

Acquired: August 31, 2005

From: Back to the Wild, Castalia OH

Disability: Hit by car; damaged left wing

The American Kestrel is the smallest and most colorful member of the falcon family in North America. It is roughly the size of a robin or blue jay, weighing 4 to 6 ounces and measuring 8 to 11" high. It eats bats, rodents, insects, frogs, small reptiles, and birds. Preferred habitats include towns, cities, parks, farmlands, and open country.

The most common falcon in North America, Kestrels are often incorrectly called “sparrow hawks.” Kestrels are the daytime counterparts of screech owls, and the two species will compete heavily for resources like prey and nesting sites.

Life expectancy for the American Kestrel in the wild is 3 to 6 years. In captivity, it can live up to 17 years.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Born: 1994

Gender: Female

Acquired: May 12, 1999

From: Heritage Zoo, Grand Island, NE

Disability: Shot; missing 2/3 of left wing

Hunts for fish, which it sometimes steals from ospreys, as it is the bulk of the bald eagle’s diet. In midwinter, eats carrion and crippled or injured squirrels, rabbits, muskrats, and waterfowl.

Preferred habitats include open water areas that support large numbers of waterfowl or fish.

Nests usually are built near the top of a large tree. Enlarged annually, a bald eagle nest can become the largest of any North American bird. The record nest measured 10 feet wide and weighed two tons.

The bald eagle’s eyesight is five to six times sharper than a human’s. Eagles fly 20 to 60 miles per hour in normal flight and dive at more than 100 miles an hour.

They can live up to 30 years in the wild and some have lived up to 50 years in captivity. The Bald Eagle is a threatened species in Illinois.

Eastern Screech Owl (Otus asio)

Born: 1997

Gender: Male (presumed)

Acquired: May 10, 2000

From: Raptor Recovery Nebraska, Elmwood NE

Disability: Hit by car; missing right eye

Preferred habitats include mixed woodlands, deciduous forests, parklands, wooded suburban areas, riparian woods along streams and wetlands, mature orchards, meadows, and fields.

Eastern Screech Owls are monogamous and remain together for life. Some males, however, will mate with two different females. The second female may evict the first female, lay her own eggs in the nest, and incubate both clutches.

They are known to eat a variety of songbirds, including the European Starling. Despite this, starlings regularly displace these owls from nesting sites and take over the nests to raise their own brood.

A small owl that stands approximately 7 to 10” tall, the Eastern Screech Owl weighs approximately six ounces. Its life expectancy is 3 to 8 years in the wild, and up to 12 years in captivity.

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

Born: 1994

Gender: Female

Acquired: March 28, 1996

From: The Wildlife Center of Virginia, Waynesboro VA

Disability: Hit by car; nerve damage on right side

Preferred habitats include woodlands, areas along cliffs and rocky canyons, and forest openings.

The Great Horned Owl will eat birds ranging in size from kinglets to Great Blue Herons, and it regularly eats other owls. Although it is a large bird (18 to 27" high), the Great Horned Owl's prey can often weigh up to three times the weight of bird itself. They may prey on foxes and domestic cats, as well as skunks. Their vile-smelling defensive spray has no effect on the Great Horned Owl (for one thing, they have no sense of smell).

In frigid areas, where larger prey cannot be eaten quickly, they may let uneaten food freeze and then thaw it out later using their own body heat.

The life expectancy of the Great Horned Owl is 15 to 20 years in the wild. In captivity their lifespan is usually from 25 to 30 years.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Red-Tailed Hawk (Buted jamaicensis)

Born: 1995

Gender: Female

Acquired: May 30, 1997

From: Springbrook Nature Center, Itasca IL

Disability: Hit by car; missing right eye; dis-located right wing

The Red-Tailed Hawk is the most common and widespread hawk in North America, found in open country, woodlands, prairie groves, mountains, plains, farmlands, and roadsides. These hawks perch on tree limbs, telephone poles, or other high structures to look for prey. When they see a prey animal, they drop down on it from above. They can spot a mouse from a height of 100 feet.

The raspy cry of the Red-Tailed Hawk is typically used in movies to represent any eagle or hawk anywhere in the world.

Males and females perform a courtship ritual in which they dive and roll in the sky. They will even lock talons and fall together a distance before splitting apart.

Although the eggs and young birds are vulnerable, adult Red-Tailed Hawks have very few predators. The life expectancy of the Red-Tailed Hawk is 10 to 15 years in the wild, and 20 to 23 years in captivity.

Home Improvement Campaign

Our bird pens are showing their age (20 years+) and we are raising funds to rebuild and improve the facilities, which will include:

  • Accessible, user-friendly observing area

  • Outdoor classroom area

  • Interpretive signage to maximize the educational potential during casual viewing

  • Medical station for maintaining bird health

  • Interior pens where the cold-sensitive birds may winter

  • Improved access for bird care volunteers
The project includes plumbing and electricity for better security and care, and space for two future raptors.

Click here for details on Atwood's Home Improvement Campaign for the Birds of Prey: Brochure