The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey admitted 784 birds to the Raptor Clinic in 2020, rehabilitating and releasing 254 back into the wild. Of the birds that survived their initial admittance, the Center was able to release 54%. During 2020, a year that brought many challenges, our amazing team treated 42 more patients than in 2019.
Red-shouldered Hawks make up the largest number of birds admitted in 2020, with 318 that came through the Center doors, followed by Barred Owl (95), Eastern Screech-Owl (81), and Bald Eagle (71). Some of Florida’s most iconic species are rescued here, including Crested Caracaras, Snail Kites, and Osprey. These patients reach the Clinic doors from concerned citizens (the public), animal control, wildlife officers, and other rehabilitators.
“Birds come in with a wide variety of injuries, from falling out of nests or car collisions or even electrocution,” said Katie Warner, Center director. “Thanks to our talented staff and dedicated volunteers, we are able to release hundreds back into their natural habitat each year.”
One of the most memorable patients of 2020 – #53 – was a Great Horned Owlet that had been impaled by a branch. She survived surgery, made a full recovery and was able to be released back into the wild!
Once a patient arrives at the Raptor Trauma Clinic, staff examine the bird and determine appropriate medical care, nutritional support, and husbandry. The Center’s patient load is seasonal, with the spring being the busiest time for bird care.
As the Clinic staff adapted to the coronavirus epidemic, they erected an outdoor tent to use as a patient intake area. This allowed community members to have a safe, no-contact way to drop off new patients. Though volunteers were limited to reduce the number of people working in the Clinic, they played a vital role in bringing patients back to health. All staff, volunteers, and visitors wear masks and practice social distancing.
Once a patient has responded well to medical treatment the raptor is moved to the Center’s rehabilitation areas to continue recovery. The Center for Birds of Prey rehabilitation area includes 17 outdoor enclosures, or mews, of various sizes including a 100’ flight barn used for Bald Eagles to regain strength and stamina and prepare for release back into the wild.
Patients ready for release are returned to the site where they were originally found. The Center has released thousands of raptors back into the wild since its doors opened in 1979, including over 600 rehabilitated Bald Eagles.
The Center is open to visitors Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m offering educational opportunities for all ages. More than 40 permanent raptor residents are available for viewing. Tickets for designated time slots can be purchased online. To purchase admission, click here.
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Learn more at cbop.audubon.org.