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Picture This: Flying again

Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 10:08 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 7, 2014 12:43 p.m. CDT
(Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com)
Oaken Acres Director of Operations Christy Gebritz streches the wing of an injured cardinal to check healing progress on March 27 at Oaken Acres in rural Sycamore.

On Thursday, I was able to go to Oaken Acres, a facility in rural Sycamore where they rehabilitate injured wild animals. I arrived not knowing what kinds of animals would be there during my assignment and only knowing that the former photo editor did not make fast friends with their resident turkey vulture named Vinnie.

When I arrived onsite, I was greeted by an owl cooing at me out of sight from inside the barn. Christy Gebritz, Oaken Acres’ director of operations later told me that Hamlet, the barred owl, responds to the sounds of cars coming down the driveway because he doesn’t know he’s an owl. Gebritz talks to Hamlet in throaty coo sound and Hamlet frequently “talks” back. When other owls are introduced or perch outside his barn, he’s actually frightened by their noises. So Hamlet cannot be released back into the wild. He’s quite a sight, rotating his head 280 degrees with a wingspan of nearly nearly three feet.

I was also able to watch Gebritz take a bandage off of a cardinal. The photo that inspired this column came from her checking over the wing. In only about two weeks, the cardinal’s wing, having been stabilized with athletic tape, appeared to be like new. Bird bones tend to re-set quickly after an injury, so a bird with a broken wing needs quick attention. If the bone heals incorrectly, it will be unable to fly.

It was amazing to see the beautiful red bird flit and flutter about after the bandage was off. A photograph like this one, with such detail, didn’t make my final cut for the story, but visually it’s interesting. It’s also interesting that this is a wild bird that most people never get this close to.

After the winter we’ve had, it’s amazing to consider how animals made it through it. It’s also refreshing to know that spring is just around the corner.

• Picture This is an occasional column showcasing photographs by Daily Chronicle photographers. You can reach Photo Editor Danielle Guerra at dguerra@shawmedia.com or 815-756-4841 ext. 2265. You can follow her on Twitter @ddcguerra.

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