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In the spring, the Raptor Center tends to take in a high number of baby raptors — like these two baby barred owls. (Photo submitted by Glen Helen Raptor Center)

Celebrate ‘baby season’ at Raptor Center with a baby shower

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The Glen Helen Raptor Center is preparing to celebrate the coming of spring with a special open house event on Sunday, April 22, beginning at 2 p.m. — a baby shower, for all the baby raptors who will be raised and rehabilitated by the Raptor Center in the coming months.

“It’s a way for us to get ready for what we lovingly call ‘baby season,’” said Rebecca Jaramillo, director of the Raptor Center.

Folks are invited to attend the open house event and meet ambassador raptors, take photos and see a rehabilitated hawk be released. The celebration is free, and attendees are asked to bring a gift for the upcoming babies from the Raptor Center’s registry — that is, a wish list of items needed by the Center to help care for its winged residents. Included on the wish list are items like bleach, vinegar, hand soap refill bottles, gift cards to Lowe’s and Petsmart, and more; the full list is available here

A trio of baby screech owls. (Photo submitted by the Raptor Center)

The Raptor Center takes in a lot of young raptors this time of year — from kestrels, to red-tailed hawks, to screech and barred owls.  In years past, the Raptor Center has billed their spring open house event as an Earth Day celebration, but this year decided to focus on what happens to wildlife in the spring — especially young wildlife. “We want to address how the public can best help animals, and how to identify when they really need help,” Jaramillo said.

The combination of spring storms and landscaping — trees felled by heavy wind and rain and landowners cutting down dead or dying trees — makes this time of year especially hazardous for baby wildlife. “If you don’t check empty tree cavities really well [when landscaping], you could be displacing or orphaning screech owls, chipmunks, squirrels,” she said.

Spring is well-known as the time of year when reproduction is at its peak, so folks are more likely to stumble upon baby animals in the wild even without storms and felled trees — and these babies may sometimes be on their own.

“In general, wildlife are really good parents,” Jaramillo said, so just because a baby animal is on its own doesn’t necessarily mean it’s been abandoned. When people do find young animals who are indeed orphaned, abandoned or injured, they don’t always know how best to help. Jaramillo said there are a few simple steps to take — and some popular folk wisdom that should be ignored.

“It’s a myth that touching a baby animal will make their parents abandon them. It’s still a good idea to wear gloves, because these are wild animals, and you want to protect yourself. You want to take the animal somewhere dark, quiet and warm, and call a wildlife rehabilitator right away. Don’t try to feed the animal.”

If the animal is safe and can be left where it is, don’t try to move it; call a rehabilitator first and follow their directions. In the case of raptors, Jaramillo said, the experts at the Raptor Center are sometimes even able to re-nest displaced babies with their parents, but more often will raise the babies themselves to be released back into the wild.

For more information on how to tell if an animal is orphaned, and who to call in the event that they are, visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources page on orphaned and injured wildlife.

For those planning to attend the baby shower, parking is always at a premium around the Raptor Center — which is located at 1075 State Route 343 — so guests are asked to consider parking in the Glen Helen lot on Corry Street and hiking through the Glen to the Raptor Center; such a hike usually takes around 15 minutes. To learn more about the Raptor Center, visit their website.

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