If Rehabbed Birds of Prey Could Talk

Meet Injured Birds of Prey Given a Second Chance at Life

Life in the wild doesn’t have to be so hard for birds of prey.

They have everything they need to exist.

But humanity complicates it.

And when birds of prey become injured, we’re fortunate to have people like Christine’s Critter’s that rescues, rehabilitates and protects birds of prey.

Christine’s Critters Inc. is owned and operated by Christine Peyreigne.

Christine of Christine's Critters with Aurora, her Bald Eagle bird education ambassador
Christine of Christine’s Critters with Aurora, her Bald Eagle bird education ambassador

This Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education non-profit in Weston, Connecticut rescues, rehabilitates and releases as many injured birds of prey as they can handle.

And they can handle a lot of birds.

In 2018, Christine’s Critters cared for more than 200 birds admitted into rehab.

Besides caring for injured birds of prey, they are home to 21 permanent residents who were once patients and now are bird education ambassadors.

Every bird has a place, purpose, and story to tell.

READ: FEMALE FALCONER GIVES INJURED BIRDS OF PREY A SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE

Meet Christine’s Critters 

Chester – Female Red-tailed Hawk

Chester is a Red-tailed Hawk and the victim of a cat strike suffering a severe eye injury.

As a result, she has no depth perception past 15 feet and can no longer hunt for prey, and can never go free.

“She can’t hunt at all,” Christine says. “We did hunting practice with her, and it didn’t quite work out.”

Chester is one of Christine's beautiful female Red-tailed Hawks. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne
Chester is one of Christine’s beautiful female Red-tailed Hawks. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne

Amelia – Female Red-tailed Hawk

Amelia is a Red-tailed Hawk that’s been with Christine’s Critters three years.

She’s a beautiful hawk, but she’s blind in one eye and deaf.

When Amelia came to Christine, she had been on the ground as a nestling for three days and covered with maggots.

The bird’s injuries left her brain damaged, and now she flies in a circle.

Amelia is Christine's female Red-tailed Hawk. She's blind in one year and deaf. Her injuries she suffered left her brain damaged. But she's in capable hands and is one of Christine's favorite birds
Amelia is Christine’s female Red-tailed Hawk. She’s blind in one year and deaf. Her injuries she suffered left her brain damaged. But she’s in capable hands and is one of Christine’s favorite birds

“When I’m holding Amelia on the glove, and I make a pfft pfft noise, it makes her clinch very tight. Amelia’s hearing is off because no other birds do that.”

Amelia arrived at Christine’ Critters as a baby and Chester raised her.

Not the Mothering Type

Christine hoped Amelia would help raise baby Red-tailed Hawks when they get them in, but Amelia doesn’t take to the babies.

“Amelia likes to be the baby. Chester would care for the babies and Amelia would just stare at them and gave them a look like, what’s that. She just didn’t know what to do with the babies.”

Now the juveniles are housed in the flight cages with the other adult Red-tailed Hawks, so it’s less intimidating for the young birds.

Christine’s education Red-tailed Hawk, Amelia came to her for care covered in maggots. Her ability to administer care saved this bird’s life
Christine’s education Red-tailed Hawk, Amelia came to her for care covered in maggots. Her ability to administer care saved this bird’s life

Christine says Amelia is a funny bird.

“I love her. She probably my favorite Red-tailed Hawk here besides my falconry bird, Theron.”

Willow – Female Barred Owl

Willow is a Barred owl and is the most requested bird at Christine’s Critters’ programs.

She’s the victim of a car strike suffering broken wing that didn’t heal correctly.

As a result, she broke her tail because it interferes with her ability to fly.

Willow is Christine's female Barred Owl. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne
Willow is Christine’s female Barred Owl. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne

Manilla – Female Northern Goshawk

Manilla is a beautiful female Northern Goshawk that came to Christine’s Critters as a juvenile from Middlebury, Connecticut.

When animal control called Christine and said they had a Red-tailed Hawk in need of care, she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the bird in question.

The bird wasn’t a Red-tailed Hawk. It was a Northern Goshawk!

Goshawks are on Connecticut’s list of endangered, threatened and special concern species.

They’re northern birds, and in North America, they range from western central Alaska and the Yukon territories in the north to the mountains of northwestern and western Mexico.

Goshawks are fierce about protecting their nest and will attack a human if they get too close.

xNorthern Goshawks are on Connecticut’s list of endangered, threatened and special concern species
Northern Goshawks are on Connecticut’s list of endangered, threatened and special concern species

Goshawks are Rare Education Birds

Manilla has a permanent wing injury with neurological damage and will never be released.

“She’s a rare bird to get in and a great education bird,” Christine says.

This bird loves cold places, and Christine says when it’s 80 degrees outside she doesn’t want to come out.

As a juvenile, Manilla has brown feathers but will turn a deep gray and have beautiful red eyes.

Christine says having Manilla will be helpful if someone gets another juvenile Goshawk in captivity so she can help raise them.

Poseidon – Male Osprey

Poseidon is a male Osprey who was a permanent resident at Christine’s Critters.

He came to Christine as a nestling after falling out of his nest onto a power fence and fracturing his wrist.

His wrist was amputated, and he could never fly, so Christine used Poseidon for education programs.

Poseidon became gravely ill, and Christine learned that he had West Nile Virus.

He was taken to the vet for care, and unfortunately, passed away on Veteran’s Day 2017.

Poseidon is a male Osprey who was a permanent resident at Christine’s Critters. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne
Poseidon is a male Osprey who was a permanent resident at Christine’s Critters. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne

Getting an Osprey to Eat in Captivity

Christine says she loves working with Osprey and specializes in getting them to eat.

“In captivity, they starve themselves because they’re used to catching live fish and refuse to eat a dead fish.”

Poseidon was no exception.

Christine and Betsy hung up a sheet and would lay on the ground outside the pen and put fish in snake tongs to hold the fish until he grabbed it.

Their faces light up when they explain how excited they were the day he grabbed the fish and ate it.

If Poseidon hadn’t eaten the fish, the other choice was to force feed him. Otherwise, he would have become dehydrated and weak.

Christine and Betsy were so excited the first time Poseidon ate in captivity. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne
Christine and Betsy were so excited the first time Poseidon ate in captivity. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne

Christine says she sees more birds with West Nile Virus.

“With more mosquitos and wetlands than there used to be, mosquitos affect the birds, and during the summer you worry about it.”

As a result, Christine’s Critters vaccinate all their educational birds against West Nile Virus, but it’s not 100 percent effective.

Signs of West Nile Virus

“The signs of West Nile Virus are neurological. If you see birds having miniature seizures, or they stop eating, then get them to the vet immediately for supportive care.”

Poseidon came to Christine’s Critters with the West Nile Virus, and she says they never lost a bird that way before.

“West Nile Virus can lie dormant in the bird’s systems. Birds can have it, but if you stress them out, then they can show signs.”

Higgins – Male Northern Saw-whet Owl

Mr. Higgins as he prefers to be called, is a delightfully charming tiny owl that came to Christine’s Critters with a damaged wing.

He’s the victim of a cat attack.

The cat brought him into the house, deposited him under the kid’s bed, and Mr. Higgins was playing dead.

Higgins is a tiny owl with a catlike face, oversized head, and bright yellow eyes. The Northern Saw-whet Owl is practically bursting with attitude and where mice and other small mammals are concerned this fierce, silent owl is anything but cute
Higgins is a tiny owl with a catlike face, oversized head, and bright yellow eyes. The Northern Saw-whet Owl is practically bursting with attitude and where mice and other small mammals are concerned this fierce, silent owl is anything but cute

Not a Stuffed Animal

The kids found him when they were cleaning their room and thought he was a stuffed animal.

“We immediately got him on antibiotics to stop the infection,” Betsy says. “Cat saliva is deadly to a bird. If a cat bites a bird, you have 24-48 hours to get them onto antibiotics before they die from the infection.”

A vet did their best to set Mr. Higgins’ wing, but it doesn’t open properly, so he’s not capable of flying.

“He’s adorable and charming, but can be so mean,” Betsy says laughing. “He’s feisty, and he has to be as a tiny small owl to survive in a world where everything is trying to eat you.”

Higgins, a male Northern Saw-whet Owl, was attacked by a cat and a result of his injuries, he will never fly again
Higgins, a male Northern Saw-whet Owl, was attacked by a cat and a result of his injuries, he will never fly again

Ash – Male Grey-faced Eastern Screech Owl

Ash is the victim of a car strike that ruptured his iris.

He can’t see out of the injured eye and can’t hear.

“He’s a beautiful grey color and blends in perfectly with his surroundings,” Christine says.

She points out that Ash is near feather perfect.

Ash is near feather perfect and blends in perfectly with his surroundings
Ash is near feather perfect and blends in perfectly with his surroundings

Mr. Higgins and Ash do programs together, and they’re a hit at kid’s parties.

“These owls are very calm and not excitable. Everyone is excited to see the owls because of their forward-facing eyes and circular face. People just identify with them.”

Archer – Male Cooper’s Hawk

Archer is a gorgeous male Cooper’s Hawk that came to Christine’s Critter’s as an adult after a window strike injuring his wing nerve.

He can’t open his wing because of damage to his radial nerve from hitting the window. Instead, Christine has to open his wing for him.

Cooper’s Hawks fly in fast and low to the ground, then up and over an obstruction to surprise prey on the other side. (Usually a songbird).

But this beautiful bird will never be able to fly again.

Archer is feather perfect, very blue in coloring and has the most striking red eyes.

Archer is feather perfect, front and back. He's very blue in coloring and has the most striking red eyes
Archer is feather perfect, front and back. He’s very blue in coloring and has the most striking red eyes

First Education Bird

He’s the first bird Christine applied for as an education bird, and Archer is her oldest education bird.

“People don’t keep Cooper’s Hawks for education because of their temperament, but Archer is one of the exceptions,” Christine says.

She says Archer is a good bird and that she uses him in quieter, low key events, but not kid’s parties.

Since Archer was injured flying into a glass window, Christine is careful about not releasing Cooper’s Hawks in areas where there are tall glass buildings.

Archer is a gorgeous male Cooper’s Hawk that came to Christine’s Critter’s as an adult after flying into a window and injuring his wing nerve. This beautiful bird will never fly again
Archer is a gorgeous male Cooper’s Hawk that came to Christine’s Critter’s as an adult after flying into a window and injuring his wing nerve. This beautiful bird will never fly again

Skye – Male Broad-winged Hawk

Skye is a Broad-winged Hawk that came to Christine’s Critters as a nestling in July 2015 from Litchfield County.

A homeowner hired a tree service to cut down some trees, and one of the trees was Skye’s nest tree.

The hawk plunged 60-90 feet directly onto the pavement suffering a fractured hip.

Skye survived plunging 60-90 feet onto the pavement after a homeowner cut down the tree with his nest. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne
Skye survived plunging 60-90 feet onto the pavement after a homeowner cut down the tree with his nest. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne

There was hope Skye’s hip would heal so he could go free, but he suffers from permanent muscle and soft tissue damage to his leg, and he’s unable to fully close his right talon.

Without the use of his talon, it’s impossible for him to catch food and Skye can’t survive in the wild.

Baby – Male Red-shouldered Hawk

Baby is a Red-shouldered Hawk and the victim of a car strike suffering permanent neurological damage.

The hawk cannot control one leg and cannot survive in the wild.

Baby is a Red-shouldered Hawk and the victim of a car strike suffering permanent neurological damage. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne
Baby is a Red-shouldered Hawk and the victim of a car strike suffering permanent neurological damage. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne

George – Male Broad-winged Hawk

George is a Broad-winged Hawk that came to Christine’s Critters with Nest Nile Virus.

He survived the virus, but the hawk had issues with his feather growth and was deemed non-releasable.

George is a Broad-winged Hawk and a Nest Nile Virus survivor. Issues with his feather growth make this beautiful hawk non-releasable. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne
George is a Broad-winged Hawk and a Nest Nile Virus survivor. Issues with his feather growth make this beautiful hawk non-releasable. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne

Ariel – Female Broad-winged Hawk

Ariel is a Broad-winged Hawk that came to Christine’s Critters after striking a window shortly after fledging and sustaining nerve damage to her wing.

The damage to Ariel’s leaves her with no control of her left wing, and she cannot survive in the wild.

Ariel is a Broad-winged Hawk and sustained nerve damage to her wing after flying into a window
Ariel is a Broad-winged Hawk and sustained nerve damage to her wing after flying into a window

Magma – Female Red-phased Eastern Screech Owl

Magma is a delightful Eastern Screech Owl with the of a Great Horned Owl.

This tiny owl and her ferocious personality warm your heart.

As a nestling, Magma fell out of her nest and injured her wing. The wing healed backward making it impossible for this tiny owl to ever fly.

Magma is an adorable Eastern Screech Owl with a backward wing
Magma is an adorable Eastern Screech Owl with a backward wing

She cannot survive in the wild, even though she thinks otherwise and is one of Christine’s education ambassadors.

intoBirds is quite fond of this beautiful owl and sponsored Magma in 2019 to pay for her food expenses.

Ember – Female Red-phased Eastern Screech Owl

Ember is an Eastern Screech Owl that came to Christine’s Critters from the Roaring Brook Nature Center.

The owl is the victim of a car strike, losing her left eye and cannot survive in the wild.

Ember is an Eastern Screech Owl that lost her left eye after colliding into a car. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne
Ember is an Eastern Screech Owl that lost her left eye after colliding into a car. Photo credit Betsy Peyreigne

Cypress – Female Barred Owl

Cypress is a Barred Owl who has been under the care of Christine’s Critters twice for rehab.

She was the victim of a car strike, and after a week of rehab was released to the wild.

Cypress is a Barred Owl and suffered brain damage after colliding with a car
Cypress is a Barred Owl and suffered brain damage after colliding with a car

Five weeks later, Cypress was again the victim of a car strike, this time suffering brain damage.

Cypress cannot survive in the wild, so she lives with Willow, and together they help raise orphaned owlets in the spring.

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Spade – Male Cooper’s Hawk

A juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, Spade, is the victim of a car strike suffering eyesight issues.

His eyesight limitations make it impossible for Spade to survive in the wild.

Equinox – Peregrine Falcon

Equinox is a Peregrine falcon and the fastest animal on the planet capable of reaching speeds up to 200 MPH.

She was found on the ground in Fairfield, Connecticut, and brought to a vet.

Equinox suffers from a neurological issue causing her left foot not to work correctly.

This beautiful falcon cannot catch her prey, making it impossible for her to survive in the wild.

Equinox the fastest animal on the planet, but due to an injury she's grounded
Equinox the fastest animal on the planet, but due to an injury she’s grounded

Aurora – Female Bald Eagle

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are 143,00 Bald Eagles, and Christine’s Critters has one of them.

Aurora is a beautiful five-year-old female Bald Eagle who got hit by a truck in Missouri and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center in Illinois with a broken radius.

The wing wasn’t cared for properly, so this fierce raptor can no longer fly.

She also has problems with her joints.

“When Aurora opens her wings, she looks amputated. But the wing is there. It just fused in the wrong direction. I wish more were done for her wing, but we’re doing our best to manage it.”

Aurora is a beautiful five-year-old female Bald Eagle who got hit by a truck in Missouri and suffered a broken radius
Aurora is a beautiful five-year-old female Bald Eagle who got hit by a truck in Missouri and suffered a broken radius

Helping a Bald Eagle Cope with Injury

Christine and Betsy have great patience with Aurora because this magnificent ten-pound bird needs help standing up.

They’re careful helping Aurora get up for the bird’s safety and their own.

Aurora is handled quite gently as if she’s a toddler learning to walk.

But this toddler has enormous talons and has already broken several pairs of Betsy’s glasses.

“When ten pounds of bird says no, they mean no,” Betsy jokes.

READ: FLYING WITH A RED-TAILED HAWK

Birds Appreciative of Christine’s Care

Christine says Aurora is the most vocal bird on the glove.

The people from the rehabilitation center in Illinois remarked that in all the years they cared for Aurora, they never heard her talk and were afraid she was mute.

But with Christine, Aurora is the most vocal bird.

And it’s not just Aurora, Christine brings out the best in her birds. Most are well-behaved, get along together and are quite vocal.

After some work, Christine gets Aurora up on glove where she stands proudly and calls out for several minutes until she baits to get back to her enclosure where she feels safe.

Aurora is a stunning Bald Eagle with white marks on her brown feathers with a wingspan of six feet.

“I’m excited to see what Aurora will look like after she molts.”

Christine brings out the best in her birds and is helping Aurora cope with her injury
Christine brings out the best in her birds and is helping Aurora cope with her injury

If These Birds Could Talk

All you have to do is see how the birds look at Christine, with such an intense gaze and you know the answer would be a resounding, “Thank you.”

Life in the wild doesn’t have to be so hard for birds. Birds have everything they need to exist. Humanity complicates it.

We are fortunate to have people like Christine that protect birds. And then we protect the earth.

Christine’s Critters Inc. is a Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education non-profit
Christine’s Critters Inc. is a Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education non-profit

If you’re in southern Connecticut on March 9, stop by Wild Birds Unlimited in Fairfield, CT and meet and mingle with Christine, Betsy and the critters at the Rapt-tastic celebrating the store’s second anniversary. 

Christine’s Critters, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) created in 2015 whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured birds of prey.

It relies on donations and program fees to care for 21 permanent resident birds of prey, 30 reptiles, 2 amphibians, 1 tarantula and the 200 or more birds that are admitted into rehabilitation each year.

To get involved, donate, send needed supplies from Christine’s Critters’ Amazon Wishlist or just volunteer go to https://www.christinescritters.org/get_involved.

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