Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn nurses hundreds of injured birds back to health

GLEN ELLYN, IL (CBS) – The Morning Insiders tagged along with volunteers on them hunting for wounded birds a few weeks ago and watched them place injured animals in paper bags to keep them calm for transport.

We asked ourselves: what happens to the pocket birds?

CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra shows us the rehab after the rescue.

“It’s amazing to see them jump right out of the bag,” said Dr. Sarah Reich, after releasing a warbler in her care back into the wild.

The vet and her team at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn nurse all types of animal patients back to health. Especially during migration seasons in autumn and spring, it is busy in the bird farm.

“He tries to stand, but he uses his wings for balance,” said Dr. Reich and pointed to a sandpiper with spinal trauma.

Apart from our sit-down conversation, she now generally talks about bird recording.

“The majority of them will be window collisions or building collisions,” she said.

Many in the care of her team in DuPage County hit downtown skyscrapers.

Volunteers from the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors are trying to give them a second chance. A few weeks ago, CBS 2 followed their bright shirts as they searched for deceased samples that go to research. Live ones head to rehabilitation. One of the group delivers an injured party to the Wildlife Center every day.

“We take the number of migratory birds from them [Chicago Bird Collision Monitors] is at least a few thousand [a year],” said Dr. Reich.

A small 50% of the birds that have been brought in by the volunteers of the inner city can be released after treatment.

“They get a large amount of ocular trauma, bleeding, corneal ulcers, things like that. We see a large number of fractures and wounds and things, so really a large assortment of problems, but probably the most is head trauma,” said Dr. Rich.

Graduating to a flight cage is the next step after medication. Repairs can take days, weeks or even months, keeping staff so busy that responding to rescues is not an option. That’s what makes the partnership with Chicago Bird Collision Monitors so valuable.

“They’re basically saving thousands of lives by being able to bring those animals in,” said Dr. Reich.

The problem of birds hitting buildings won’t go away, but one thing is changing for the better: Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

A new facility in Glen Ellyn is under construction and will open in 2024.

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The vet and her team at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn nurse all types of animal patients back to health. Especially during migration seasons in autumn and spring, it is busy in the bird farm. A new facility in Glen Ellyn is under construction and will open in 2024.

Wight & Company


Vets say the larger space allows them to treat injured birds with more detailed care based on their specific species.

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The vet and her team at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn nurse all types of animal patients back to health. Especially during migration seasons in autumn and spring, it is busy in the bird farm. A new facility in Glen Ellyn is under construction and will open in 2024.

Wight & Company