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March 1, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Lazy Birding at the Wildlife Center

More snow, more cold, more ice. The trails are nasty and I haven’t been out much so I looked back into my archives and found some photos from a walk along the trails at the wildlife center near my home. An effortless, lazy birdwalk, where I didn’t have to work very hard to see birds up close.

Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Willowbrook Wildlife Center is the facility where I take injured and rescued wild animals. It is a 50 acre nature preserve, refuge and wildlife rehabilitation facility that provides care and medical treatment for injured and orphaned animals that are native to northeastern Illinois. The trails are open to the public and many permanently disabled animals – eagles, songbirds, owls, raccoons, foxes, to name a few – have a permanent home here.

Here are a few of the permanent residents that live in enclosures along the trails:

Barred Owls

Barred Owls

Barred Owls have huge eyes which gives them impressive sight at night. They have three eyelids and a neck that can turn at 270-degrees. These two owls will remain at the center due to vision impairment and wing injuries, possibly from hitting a car. They look deceptively cuddly here, but in the wild are territorial, agressive birds and sharp hunters that swallow their prey whole.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most commons owls in North America. It is also the largest and most powerful. They can take down large prey including raptors, falcons and even skunks, although they often dine on smaller fare such as rodents and frogs. This bird had permanent wing damage from being entangled in a fence.

Red-tailed Hawk


Loss of habitat due to human development are a problem for the Red-tailed Hawk. Collisions with vehicles, poison from pesticides and electrocution from power lines are just a few of the threats they face. This bird had a broken wing which did not heal well enough for him to be returned to life in the wild.

A Visitor


A robin watched warily from a tree while gobbling down berries.

Don’t get lost

The back 40 acres is a nature preserve and walking trail where many wild birds can been seen. This sign is at the entrance to the trails. I’m wondering how many times people got locked in that it was necessary to post a sign!

Saturday Snapshot was originated by Alyce at At Home With Books. It is now hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Sandra Nachlinger / Mar 1 2014 11:12 am

    Thank you for posting these beautiful photos. I’d love to walk along that nature trail. Not now, but in early summer. Sounds like a lovely place to stroll.


  2. kaye / Mar 1 2014 11:19 am

    Those owls are great! For some reason my link on Saturday snapshot site wouldn’t take but today I posted pics of pileated woodpecker.


  3. laurelrainsnow / Mar 1 2014 11:40 am

    Impressive photos, with a great story that warms my heart. Thanks for sharing….


  4. Arti / Mar 1 2014 12:05 pm

    Come to think of it, that’s a good idea… ‘lazy birding’. I’ve never been to our zoo to see birds, or animals for that matter. But it’s still cold to get out there. It’s -30C this morning can you believe it.


    • Leslie / Mar 1 2014 1:15 pm

      Yup, I believe it. We’re not quite as bad at -5C/22F, but it’s still way below normal temps for this time of year and the ice persists. I took those photos a few years ago on a beautiful autumn day.


  5. Sue / Mar 1 2014 12:12 pm

    Very nice! I volunteer at our local Raptor Center, which takes in and rehabs 900 patients a year, but I have never taken my camera with me. Your post was a good reminder to do that next time.


    • Leslie / Mar 1 2014 1:24 pm

      I take my camera when I walk the trails but I don’t usually take photos of the birds in the exhibits. I was surprised they came out this well. The screening makes it difficult to get a good focus.


  6. Beth Hoffman / Mar 1 2014 12:17 pm

    You know how much I love this post, don’t you? It’s wonderful, Leslie!


  7. BermudaOnion / Mar 1 2014 7:22 pm

    I love your photos and am so glad there is a place like that for those beautiful creatures!


  8. Louise / Mar 2 2014 4:10 am

    I’m so glad that you decided to post these today. Great pictures of fascinating birds. Sometimes it’s good to do lazy birding to see birds you wouldn’t ordinarily see close up. Owls are so magnificent but not something that I see very often.


  9. Suko / Mar 2 2014 11:39 am

    Another spectacular post! I especially love the owls. Thank you, Leslie!


  10. irene / Mar 2 2014 5:42 pm

    sounds like lovely


  11. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Mar 2 2014 7:50 pm

    This creatures are stunning.


  12. Carol / Mar 3 2014 12:19 pm

    Beautiful photos. I love the owls. My daughter would love visiting a center like this.


  13. stacybuckeye / Mar 3 2014 8:42 pm

    Beautiful pics. That sign cracks me up!


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