Horizon Wings is a non-profit Wildlife Rehabilitation Center specializing in Birds of Prey. Funding is provided by educational programs and donations.
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Our program birds are raptors who can no longer be released due to either injuries or prolonged captivity. They are well cared for at our center, and we bring some of them to our educational seminars. You may also visit them on-site by scheduling a group or private program in advance. Please click on their photo below to be brought directly to a more detailed description of each one.
Athena was found injured at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT. Her right wing was abraded and missing primary feathers, which are crucial in a bird’s flight. In rehab we allowed her to go through a molt (losing old feathers and growing new ones). As the new primaries grew, they would break before reaching their full length. It was determined that there was probably some irreversible nerve and tissue damage to the wing and she would not be able to be released. Peregrine Falcons are the fastest animals on earth, reaching speeds close to 200 mph as they dive after their prey, which consists almost entirely on other birds. Peregrines were almost completely gone from much of the east coast of the U.S. due in large part to the pesticide DDT. Through captive breeding programs and reintroduction, they have made an extraordinary comeback. They have also adapted quite well to living in cities where they often nest on high rise buildings. sound
Bald Eagles are the largest raptors nesting in Connecticut with males weighing up to 10 lbs. and females up to 12 lbs. with wingspans between six and seven feet. Adult Bald Eagles are easily identified by their large size and dark body with the distinct white head and tail. Young Bald Eagles look much different than the adults. In their first two years, young eagles are dark brown with white mottling and lack the white head and tail. They are sometimes mistaken for Golden Eagles, which are rarely seen in Connecticut. Young Bald Eagles begin to get the white head and tail in their third and fourth year, becoming completely white when they turn five years old.
Bald Eagles were extirpated from Connecticut in the 1950s due largely to the pesticide DDT. Nesting Bald Eagles returned to Connecticut in 1992 and have been increasing in numbers ever since. There are now 23 known nesting pairs in the state. Bald Eagles build very large nests, usually near a body of water. They prey mainly on fish but will also take a wide variety of prey, including mammals and birds, and will also scavenge on carrion.
Atka is a two year old male eagle who came to us from Washington state where he was found with an injured right wing which prevents his release. Atka will be in training until such time as we feel he is ready for his first public appearance.
Chico came to us in 2007 as a nestling who had fallen from his nest tree and broken his wing. Because of his age (approximately two weeks old) and because his bones were still growing, surgery was not a good option. The wing did not heal properly and his ability to fly well enough to survive in the wild was compromised. Broad-Wings are hawks of the deeper woods, unlike their relatives, the Red-Tail, who prefer open areas. Adult Broad-Wings can be identified by their wide black and white banded tails and their distinctive “petee-petee” call. Broad-Winged Hawks migrate to South America for the winter in large flocks called kettles.
Crows are a very common bird throughout North America. They are very social and have a unique family structure. Often siblings from previous years will help in nest building and the raising of the next generation. During the winter, Crows will often gather in large communal roosts numbering in the thousands. Crows can be found in almost any habitat—from woodlands to shorelines and from cities to suburbs, and they have adapted very well to human activity. Crows are very opportunistic and will eat anything. They are also intelligent birds with the ability to recognize one person from another. Some species of Crows have been known to use crude tools, such as sticks, to forage for food.
Corbin came to us in the spring of 2011 when he was taken from his nest by a hawk. Corbin’s rescuer saw his family mob the hawk until he released Corbin into her backyard. Corbin’s shoulder was broken too severely for him to be released.
Red-Shouldered Hawks are a common hawk in Connecticut. They are related to the larger Red-Tailed Hawk and the smaller Broad-Winged Hawk. Red-Shoulders prefer to live in woodlands near water, and they feed on small mammals, birds, snakes and amphibians. Red-Shoulders can be identified by their orange barred chest and checkerboard-like markings on their wings; they also have a red shoulder patch and a narrow black and white banded tail. In flight, they have a distinctive white crescent mark near the tips of their wings. Red-Shoulders are also very vocal with a piercing kee-ah call.
Cypress was hit by a car in Florida, which resulted in a permanent injury to his right wing. He came to Horizon Wings in the spring of 2012, where his first home was with Teresa Kramer of Canton Raptor Care. Red-Shouldered Hawks from Florida are slightly smaller and paler in color than northern birds.
Dakota was hit by a car in 2006. Her left wing and leg were broken. Her leg healed well, but her wing did not. We know Dakota’s age as she still had her first-year juvenile plumage when she was hit. Once raptors molt in their adult feathers, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine their age. Red-Tails are very common, and adult birds can easily be identified by their striking red tail. Red-Tails also have a “ belly-band” of dark feathers across the lower portion of their chest. In some birds this marking is very distinctive; in others it is just a few dark spots. sound
Turkey Vultures are large black birds often seen soaring in groups. They are sometimes mistaken for eagles because of their size. Turkey Vultures soar with their wings in a dihedral, or V-shape, whereas eagles soar on flat wings. Turkey Vultures also have distinctive silvery-white wing feathers when seen from below. Turkey Vultures have a featherless head—which turns red in adult birds—and this feature helps keep them clean when they are feeding as they are primarily carrion eaters. They are one of the few birds who have a sense of smell which helps them locate rotting food. Turkey Vultures usually nest in caves or depressions on cliffs but are also known to nest in abandoned buildings and sometimes on the ground.
Dante was hit by a car in Kentucky which left him with a wing injury that prevents his release. Dante came to us in the spring of 2012, where his first home was with Teresa Kramer of Canton Raptor Care. He is currently adjusting to his new surroundings and will be gradually introduced to people as he becomes more comfortable.
Emrys came to us in 2001 after being struck by a car, which resulted in the amputation of his left wing. Barred Owls are common in Connecticut and have a distinctive call some people say sounds like “who who who cooks for you all”. Barred Owls generally live in the deep forest and make their nests in tree cavities. They prey on a variety of smaller mammals such as mice, voles, and chipmunks. They also eat a wide variety of birds. Barred Owls are one of the few owls that have dark eyes.
Herkimer is replacing Cedar, as Cedar has moved to a new home in Guilford, Connecticut, to join Blue Moon Raptors as their first educational ambassador. Herkimer is not releasable due to a wing injury sustained when he flew into a window. Window strikes are not uncommon. You can help avoid these injuries by placing decals on your windows to alert birds to it's presence. Herkimer is a red form Screech Owl. Screech Owls also come in a gray form. Screeches take many small prey items -- from moths to small rodents -- but have also been noted preying on birds as large as pigeons. They are very tenacious for their size. Screech Owls get their name from the call they can make but also have a “trilling” type call.
Jasper is a grey form Eastern Screech Owl. He came to us in the spring of 2011 as a fledgling after being caught by a cat which resulted in a permanent eye injury. Domestic cats kill a large number of songbirds and smaller raptors.
Screech Owls get their name from the wailing call they make, but most often their call is a soft trilling sound that is similar to the whiny of a horse. Screech Owls nest in cavities in trees and are extremely hard to see, although they are probably one of the most common raptors in Connecticut. Red and grey forms will nest together and will sometimes have young that are a brownish color. Screech Owls have asymmetrical hearing, meaning one ear is larger and sits up higher on their head. This helps them to locate their prey by listening before they look for it.
Julian came to Horizon Wings in 2005. He was found by a hiker in Vernon, CT, with a severely broken and infected wing, which left him unable to ever fly again. Ravens are in the same family as crows (Corvids), but they are much larger then crows and can be identified by their wedge-shaped tail in flight (crows' tails are rounded). Ravens also have much thicker and heavier beaks with hair-like feathers covering the beak near their face. Their call is more of a croaking sound as opposed to the distinct caw of a crow. Ravens are becoming more and more common in Connecticut and typically like to nest on ledges and cliff faces. They are extremely intelligent birds with actual problem-solving abilities (not just trial and error). We know Julian was less than a year old when he came to us as the inside of his mouth was pink, which darkens to black as the bird matures. Julian is currently a display bird at Horizon Wings until he can be trained as a program bird. Julian has also picked up a few phrases he has heard us say to him. These include What’s Up! and Who’s a good bird!
Kisra has been a resident at Horizon Wings since 2000. She was found at the Audubon Center in Glastonbury, CT, with a severely injured wing which required amputation. Kestrels are a member of the Falcon family. They are the smallest falcons living in North America, and are currently on the threatened list in Connecticut as their numbers have seen a dramatic decrease in the last decade. Some of the theories for this decrease are loss of habitat (Kestrels prefer open areas such as farmland), pesticide use (Kestrels prey on many types of insects), and predation by larger birds of prey (there is an increasing Cooper’s Hawk population in Connecticut). sound
Oscar came to Horizon Wings from another rehabilitator after he was struck by a garbage truck. Oscar suffered a broken shoulder which left him unable to fly. Great-Horned Owls are the largest owls nesting in Connecticut. In the wild, an adult Great-Horned has few natural predators. They are very powerful birds and can take an extremely wide variety of prey items, including mammals as large as skunks. Great-Horned Owls nest early in the year (February to March) and will quite often take over a nest built by another pair of birds, such as a Red-Tailed Hawk. sound
Patrick, like Dakota, came to us after being hit by a car, leaving him blind in his right eye. This is a very common injury to birds of prey. Approximately two-thirds to three-quarters of the birds we get into rehab are struck by cars. Patrick will be a welcome addition to Horizon Wings not only as an educational ambassador but also as a companion to Dakota, who always seems more at ease when she has other birds with her.
Silo was born in captivity 14 years ago and has lived her entire life at Wildlife Experiences in South Dakota as an educational bird. When the non-profit portion of their organization had to close, Silo needed to find a new home. We are honored to have her and would like to thank Maggie Engler of Wildlife Experiences for choosing Horizon Wings as that home. Barn Owls are found on every continent except Antarctica. They are currently on the endangered list in Connecticut mainly due to changes in land use. Barn Owls prefer open farmland where they hunt the fields for small mammals. A study done by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection found that a pair of Barn Owls with six young can eat as many as 1,000 rodents in a nesting season. They are able to locate their prey using only their sense of hearing. Barn Owls are easily identified by their white chest and heart-shaped facial disk. Females are larger and have heavier speckled chests. Their call is a long hissing shriek.
Spirit is a male American Kestrel. He is missing part of his right wing after being caught in a hangar door at Bradley airport. Unlike many raptors the male and female kestrel are marked quite differently. Kestrels are a member of the Falcon family. They are the smallest falcons living in North America, and are currently on the threatened list in Connecticut as their numbers have seen a dramatic decrease in the last decade. Some of the theories for this decrease are loss of habitat (Kestrels prefer open areas such as farmland), pesticide use (Kestrels prey on many types of insects), and predation by larger birds of prey (there is an increasing Cooper’s Hawk population in Connecticut). sound
Sprite is a Northern Saw-whet owl who came to Horizon Wings in January 2013 after spending six weeks with another wildlife rehabilitator. She flew into a car on December 6, 2012 in South Windsor, CT. Realizing an owl had hit his car, the driver turned around to pick her up, but not before another car came along sending this little owl tumbling down the road. This resulted in Sprite's sustaining permanent neurological injuries, leaving her un-releasable.
Northern Saw-whet owls are on the special concern list in Connecticut due largely to loss of habitat. They nest in cavities, preferring holes in dead trees made by woodpeckers. Their main prey is small mice, but they will also take a variety of birds, and have been documented taking birds as large as cardinals. They are found over much of the northern United States, southern Canada, and down through the mountain ranges of southern California. Saw-whets are migratory owl and will travel as far as the southernmost part of the United States to find their prey during the winter months.
Black vultures are in the same family as turkey vultures. They are large black birds often seen soaring in search of food, which consists primarily of carrion. Black vultures can be distinguished from turkey vultures in flight by the square white panel at the end of their wings (turkey vultures have silvery white trailing edges on their wings). Black vultures also have much shorter tails, giving them the appearance of a flying wing. Black vultures are more common in the south eastern part of the U.S. but are becoming more common in the northeast due in part to climate change.
Stevie Ray was found as a nestling and had to be hand fed as he would not eat on his own. He became imprinted on his handlers and therefore is not a good candidate for release. He was transferred to Horizon Wings in the fall of 2012.
Beamer came to Horizon Wings approximately 12 years ago, when Mary-Beth was working at Bolton Veterinary Hospital. Beamer was brought into the hospital suffering from a severe upper respiratory infection. During her treatment, it was discovered she was missing a hind leg, which made it difficult for her to get around. To make it easier on her, Dr. Zyra came up with the idea of making a prosthesis from a Lego trike. The idea worked, and Beamer soon became a wonderful ambassador and mascot for Horizon Wings.
Box Turtles are on a special concern list in Connecticut due to loss of habitat. Their habitat includes woodlands, swamps and grassy meadows. They get their name from their ability to close themselves up like a box when threatened. They have been known to live 50 years or more.
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