The Southeastern Raptor Center at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine held a public release of three rehabilitated birds on Oct. 11. The birds—two Red-tailed hawks and a Barred owl—were set free at the Opelika Wood Duck Heritage Preserve and Siddique Nature Park. The 73-acre wetland is home to a large population of birds, including hawks, warblers, owls, songbirds and ducks.
This is the first time that the Southeastern Raptor Center has released birds in the preserve and nature park. The hawks and owl were chosen for release after they passed several flight evaluations, according to Elizabeth Crandall, assistant director of the Southeastern Raptor Center.
“We put a lot of time and other resources into rehabilitating close to 400 birds a year,” she said. “Unfortunately, we are not able to rehabilitate much less release the majority of these. So when we do have a success story, it is always rewarding to return these wild birds back to their natural habitat.”
Birds that are unable to return to the wild remain at the center and are used to educate students and the general public about raptors, or transferred to another educational facility.