There is no sugar-coating it. Baby season is a tough and hectic time at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida. In February, you can hear staff say, “look how cute, a baby Great Horned Owl just arrived.” However, by June you hear, “do we still have a kennel free for another Red-shouldered Hawk?”
Each spring, the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey spends countless hours helping baby raptors with 20 percent of the annual patient load arriving in May alone. Babies require specialty care including multiple feedings daily, weight checks, food prep, cleaning, sanitizing, and medications.
Audubon’s Raptor Technician Beth Lott has seen her fair share of baby seasons with almost 20 years of experience working in wildlife rehabilitation.
“Baby season at the Center is when young raptors are being pushed out of nests by siblings, weather, actions by people or on their own accord; this time of year may be cute but it’s not pretty. Some of our daily challenges are to keep up with all the feedings and to progress the babies through their care as close to an adult of their species would do naturally,” said Beth.
All of these young birds need our help to survive. With the expertise that Audubon staff provide, these birds have a fighting chance. Of course the best care for babies comes from the parents, and we reunite them with their parents when possible. Center staff work with tree service companies, who donate bucket truck service, tree climbers, and volunteers who can help return a baby to their nest tree.
Care like this requires extra time, volunteers, resources and public involvement.
You can help too. Many of Florida’s raptors are cavity and tree nesters, and disturbing nests by trimming trees in the spring puts them in danger. Until the fall, hold off on trimming trees in your yard. There’s never been a better reason to procrastinate!
Restoring Our Nest: Center Begins Ambitious Long-Term Recovery Repairs After Hurricane Irma
Construction and a capital campaign are now underway at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey! A much-needed roof replacement for the Trauma Clinic has started, and the Center is launching the Restore Our Nest campaign to rebuild and sustain our facilities through future storms. It’s a tall order to raise $165,000 to weatherproof, repair and replace roofs, and improve aviaries. But with 15 new patients every week and threats to birds increasing every day, we must continue our work. Visit AudubonCenterForBirdsOfPrey.org to learn more.