A fun and educational morning at Wildlife Haven

Today was the first day of a four day event held at our wildlife rehabilitation centre, Wildlife Haven, in Ile des Chenes, Manitoba. While Thursday morning was slow, the early afternoon and the rest of the three days are booked solid. It was wonderful listening to the volunteers, the veterinarians in training, and staff talk about the ambassadors as well as giving everyone tours of all the facilities. It is one chance that our not-for-profit centre has for donations and to recruit new volunteers. With the exception of a couple of big donors, the centre is run entirely on donations from people like you and their volunteers, and the generosity of several institutions that provide food for the animals.

Since 1984, Wildlife Haven has been rehabilitating injured, sick and orphaned wildlife. The goal is always to return the mammals and birds back to the wild. To date, more than 44,000 wildlife have received care at the facility. In addition to the wildlife that are given a second life, others live at the centre permanently. They become educational ambassadors. Volunteers use them to educate the public on the challenges that wildlife face and how they can help.

Once the large raptors have gone through several stages of rehabilitation, they are placed in these very large – and long – structures to re-establish their flying and hunting skills. Only when they can fly and hunt on their own will they be released back into the wild.

Wildlife Haven is fortunate to have two of these areas where the large birds of prey can train for their return to a life in the wild.

Scattered around the property are other buildings where the raptors spend time before reaching the final test – flying and hunting.

There is a Great Horned Owl in the structure below strengthening its wings by flying around the enclosure. It was blocked off so that visitors would not cause it stress but you could see the shadow of it flying through the material.

Smaller birds of prey are in the structure below.

In the enclosure below are two beavers. They really demonstrated the term ‘busy as a beaver’. The two spend their entire day taking logs into the water to soak the bark. Then they strip the bark off the log and eat it. In fact, the primary food of a beaver is wood bark. Then they spend their time chewing away on the logs. Once a week the water is cleaned. Beavers have to have water in order to defecate. The logs are replenished once a week or as needed. The tour guide said they were lucky to have a large piece of property with lots of trees so that the beavers can be ‘themselves’. The pair will be released back into the wild at the location where they were captured.

The meal prep area! Want to know where some of those old oranges wind up from the grocery store? Perhaps they get donated to your local wildlife rehabber. Local gardeners also donate surplus veggies.

The University of Manitoba donates mice and rates to Wildlife Haven. They go through a lot of meat because many of the patients are raptors. There are also a host of raptor ambassadors. Majestic, the Bald Eagle who is unable to fly, eats approximately 400 grams – not quite a pound – of good meat a day.

There is a lot of work for staff and volunteers. Visitors got a giggle out of the last item on the list. Cinnabun is a rabbit who is also an ambassador. Apparently Cinnabun loves getting out of her cage and even though the door is locked she is often found wandering around the building when staff arrive in the morning.

Besides raptors there are a lot of water birds such as Pelicans and, currently, there are 44 Canada Geese receiving treatment. There are snakes and turtles amongst the gang as well. The centre does not treat skunks or large animals such as deer, moose, or elk. Skunks require specialist centres because of their spray and its smell but also because they are one of the main carriers of rabies.

There is a Turkey Vulture Ambassador. Its head will turn red when it is an adult. Right now it is just a baby!

Adorable. This young vulture came to the clinic this summer and they hope to release it next summer once it passes its flying and hunting skills testing.

Oh, I could take this beautiful female Red-tail Hawk home in the blink of an eye. What a beautiful bird. She is a permanent ambassador at the centre and reminds me so much of Big Red who lives on the Cornell University campus.

We were introduced to the amazing layer of feathers of a Great Grey Owl. These owls live year round in the forests of Manitoba. Their hearing is so good they can hear the faintest sound of a mouse beneath 60 cm (or 2 ft) of snow. Their enormous layer of feathers with their round tips means that the own glides silently from its perch to get its prey, hunting at dusk and dawn mainly. They range in height from 60 to 84 cm (or 24-33 inches).

Great Grey Owls hunt for voles, mice, lemmings, and shrews.

It is a great fund raiser for the Centre but, for anyone attending one of the tours, they learned so much. I urge you to see when the wildlife rehabilitation clinics in your area has their open house. Go – take a friend. Make an outing of it. While you are there, think about how you can help. Every centre has a long list of items that they use all the time. It is surprising to see what is on those lists. Maybe your pet has died and you have unopened tins or bags of food. Those are great to donate as are veggies from your garden. What about those old sheets and towels? Do not put them in the garbage! Wash them well and put them in a clean bag. They would be very useful. Maybe you want to get more involved and help transport injured animals to the centre. There are a hundred ways to help. Ask the staff for all the possibilities and see if there is something that suits you.

It was a gorgeous day in the country. I wish I could share the murmurations of the Red-winged Blackbirds as they flew off the sunflower fields. Simply stunning the patterns they made in the sky.

Thanks so much for joining me. You take care of yourself. See you soon!


  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you so much Mary Ann for these wonderful photos and info on the animals at the Center.
    They are very beautiful and I wish them all the luck of fledging. The ambassador ones are awesome. Education about the animals is so important for animals survival. Thanks again and
    Take care! Linda

  2. Salliane says:

    The center tour must have been fabulous. I hope many will go there and donate $ to help.
    That great grey owl looks spooky…I would be terrified if I bumped into one of those in the forest.HAH.
    I am glad you had a wonderful experience!!

    1. It was really good, Salliane. The young women and men that had leading the tour – most were vet students – could answer anyone’s question and you could tell they really enjoyed working at the centre. Yes that Great Gray was quite big – apparently small if you put the Great Horned next to it. It was a great morning and I am so appreciative of their car from the largest of the raptors to the smallest songbirds and turtles even.

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