The Wildlife Center: Year in Review

March 19, 2021

By Dave Spillo, Wildlife Caretaker

In January 2020, the new year seemed to offer promise and excitement. Our new wildlife intern was learning fast and ready to take on her roster of students. The birds were well protected from the cold with heat lamps and wind barriers. The Paul C. Kupchok Wildlife Center was prepared for another winter but no one could have foreseen what was going to happen next at Green Chimneys, and in the world.

That day in March, when we were informed Green Chimneys would close to the public, and we would transition to a bare bones farm team, felt surreal. But in true Green Chimneys spirit, the eight of us sprang into action. For the next few months, we made sure the animals had the best care, helped each other in all the areas of the farm, entertained ourselves with daily socially distanced group photos to keep up morale, and proceeded to have an incredibly busy rescue and rehab season… one of the busiest ever!

This juvenile owl was one of several baby Screeches that received a second chance at life. Over the summer, it shed its baby feathers, learned to hunt food, and was released back to the wild.

In a typical year, Green Chimneys rescues approximately 100 birds and releases about 70. In 2020, we took in 180 spanning 37 different species from Bald Eagle to Whip-Poor-Will to a tiny Kinglet songbird. Sixty of these birds were released back into the wild; birds that could not be released remained at Green Chimneys or were rehomed at other wildlife facilities. We received more songbirds than we had in a long time, and a higher number of baby raptors, as well. We also saw an influx of Barred Owls, young ones in the springtime and more recently, larger ones that suffered injury from cars. I gathered from other rehabbers, and my own observations, that our increased intake was due to reduced rehabber activity and more people spending time outside observing and caring about wildlife.

It is nice that we were able to help, and see people more active in nature. Looking back, our group of essential animal caretakers truly felt like superheroes, and the experience bonded all of us, as well.

A Message to the Community from Green Chimneys

We are deeply appreciative of our farm and wildlife team; their dedication and expertise are critical to the nature-based education and experiences of the students who attend Green Chimneys. We take great pride in also serving the public to educate and provide diverse opportunities to interact with animals and our annual Birds of Prey Day is our greatest tradition. In keeping with our commitment to health and safety, we have made the difficult decision not to hold this special event this year. Please join us as we focus on June 2022 to resume our annual celebration in support of children, the environment and magnificent birds of prey.

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