Rescued Birds of Prey ~ Their Stories

Still in Michigan...we took a day trip to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary and what an amazing place! This 180-acre refuge offers a diverse wildlife habitat situated on a scenic 40-acre lake.

There are a number of rescued Birds of Prey at the Sanctuary that demonstrate different species of native raptors and I wanted to share their stories.

Note: photos were all taken through the cage screen so I apologize for the lack of clarity.

Barn Owls (Tyto Alba) Status: No longer found in Michigan

Barn Owls have not been seen nesting in Michigan since 1983! This male was found as a hatch year bird in 2006 in Florida with an injured right wing. Despite being treated he is unable to fly and therefore unable to hunt successfully in the wild.

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Status: common, year-round

These red tailed hawks are both female but their age is unknown. They both have wing injuries and are unable to survive in the wild. The one with the darker patterns has been trained to stand on a glove and is used for educational programs at the Sanctuary.

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) Status: Common, year-round

These Great Horned Owls were brought to the Sanctuary in 2008 from the Michigan State Veterinary clinic after their wing injuries were treated. Their age is unknown but it is presumed that they are both female based on their larger size. Males are usually smaller in weight and size.

Fun fact: Great Horned Owls are the only predators to hunt skunks!

Eastern Screech Owl (Otus asio) Status: Common, year-round

This Eastern Screech Owl was checking me out. Can you see him looking out the corner of his eye? This little guy was found in 2006 as an immature bird in Vicksburg, Michigan. He has a right wing injury and the tip of the wing had to be amputated. He has learned how to get around without two full wings and word has it that he can sometimes be seen peaking out of his box.

Did you know that Screech Owls don't add any nesting materials to their nests but roost and lay eggs in nest boxes or tree cavities?

Barred Owl (Strix varia) Status: widespread
This male Barred Owl was found as a hatch year bird in Indiana in 2009. He was on the side of the road with a stick in his left eye. A wildlife rehabilitator treated his injury but he remains blind in one eye making it impossible for him to be a night hunter in the wild.

Interesting fact: Great Horned Owls are the greatest predator to Barred Owls.

* * * * *

Birds of Prey are heralded hunters and powerful birds and very often thought to be invulnerable. The stories above show that they are at risk too and their biggest threat are humans. Car accidents are the leading cause of injury and death of these birds. Birds of Prey often hunt along road sides and are struck when they fly by. Birds such as vultures and eagles that feed on carrion are frequently hit by cars when they are feeding on road kill and are too gorged to fly away quickly.

Wind farms are thought of as a clean source of renewable energy however they have a high environmental cost when it comes to bird fatalities. Many wind farms are located on migratory flyways and prime flight corridors for raptors. These birds are often struck by the spinning blades.

All Terrain Vehicles often destroy nests of ground nesting birds. They also damage habitats of the mammals that are their primary food source and without sufficient food and nesting sites the populations of these raptors dwindle.

Pesticides and herbicides used on crops and to control rodent populations are lethal to these birds over time. Habitat loss also impacts their populations since birds of prey require large territories for successful hunting and nesting.


  1. This is a very informative post. I hadn't really considered the impact of wind farms on these wonderful creatures.

  2. Very interesting post, we have some owls in the locality and often hear them but only catch rare glimpses.

  3. Very informative post! I didn't know that the Great Horned Owls were the greatest predator to Barred Owls! We have both in our woods-- and have heard some interesting noises from the two as they were claiming territory! (Or so we thought, maybe it was deadlier!)

  4. What beautiful birds! I very often hear owls at night but rarely see them. It's so sad to hear about the impact of the wind farms.

  5. Karin: It pains me to see these great birds suffer. Thank you for this informative post. Awareness is half the battle. And thank goodness for the the animal sanctuaries!

  6. I didn't realize car accidents affected birds of prey so much. Here in VA, cars are always colliding with deer. The birds in your photos are beautiful. I thought wind farms were doing a better job of locating the turbines away from migration paths.

  7. I'm glad the sanctuary exists for the birds. I didn't know about wind farms either. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Oh i love that first one, it is so very cute, caught unaware!

  9. Thanks for this post Karin. These beautiful birds are beloved here in my garden. We rarely see owls but they are here. The hawks are found in better numbers but yes we are their greatest problem. When people spray they do not understand all the harm they do.

  10. Very interesting. I, too, never thought about how wind farms can be bad for the birds. It is also interesting that skunks only have one predator - I wonder if those owls do not have a strong sense of smell!

  11. This is such an important post..I enjoyed it..Michelle

  12. I enjoyed the post as I am an animal lover. Our photography group has a meet at a rehabilitater's property in the near future and I am looking forward to this so much. He will be sending the hawks on a hunt.Your photos of the birds are wonderful.

  13. I looked back through your posts and looks like you had a wonderful trip to Michigan! Owls are fascinating creatures. I have heard one in the neighbourhood, but have never seen one. I enjoyed learning a bit more about them through your interesting post. One of the more surprising things was that female Great Horned Owls are larger than the males. How often does that happen in nature! Have a great weekend Karin!

  14. I really enjoyed post. The birds look healthy. I'm not sure what a happy owl looks like, but they seem to be doing just fine. We have owls around our home. At night you can hear the Whoooo-Who-Who-Whoooo. One of my favorite sounds.

  15. I was going to "pick" this article under Blotanical but I couldn't find a listing for your blog under the picks alphabet. Blotanical doesn't always work just right, sigh. All of your photos are fabulous. Wish I had your photography skills!


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One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin

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