Hospital

Checking on a Patient You Brought In?

Originally founded as The Raptor Rehabilitation and Propagation Project (RRPP) in 1977, the rehabilitation of wild patients with the goal of release back to their native habitat has been part of World Bird Sanctuary from the beginning. We are proud to further this legacy with an ever-growing hospital facility and we now see 400-500 patients per year from St. Louis and the surrounding area.

2018 was the beginning of a new era for many areas of WBS, including our hospital facilities. The passing of our founder, Walter Crawford, in 2015 left WBS in a state of transitioning leadership. 2018 saw our leadership, and with it, a promising future, solidify. Each department began working on both immediate improvements as well as towards WBS’s long term unified vision. For our hospital this meant updating our treatment protocols, renovating our building, expanding our rescue group, and adding new diagnostic equipment.

With your support, we have continued to build off each achievement and reached some major milestones in 2019. We are proud to provide some of the best care in the country with an expert rehabilitation staff, a full time veterinarian, and on-site x-ray, anesthesia and surgery equipment. We continue to strive to improve our facilities and care to ensure that our patients get the best available. See how our hospital has changed and take a video tour of our hospital here.

Our hospital facilities are closed to the public with the exception of special events and private tours. This is to allow our patients the quiet they need to rest and recover. To learn more about these opportunities, check out our special events and experiences page, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

2019 By the Numbers:

  • 426 Patients Admitted
  • 75 Orphaned Raptors Cared For
  • Over 17,000 Patient Care Days (Each day each bird spends in rehab counts as patient care day)
  • An Average of 47 Birds in Care Every Day

Over 60% of Birds that Survived the First 24 Hours Returned to the Wild!

Our Vision for the Future

We envision a time when WBS’s Rehab Hospital not only provides the best available rehabilitative care, but is also a leader in the field of researching and developing the latest rehabilitation techniques. Our next steps on this path are our two major goals for 2020. The first is to expand our outdoor enclosure capacity. A 30% increase in case load and an improved release rate over the last 2 years means that our existing outdoor enclosures are overcrowded. Some of our older enclosures also do not meet the newest standards set forth by the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (N.W.R.A.) for raptor rehabilitation. Our goal is to expand our outdoor patient capacity to both eliminate crowding and to make room for the continued growth in case load that we expect to see. All new enclosures built will meet or exceed the industry standards. Any existing enclosures that do not meet N.W.R.A.’s standards, will be renovated to meet or exceed those standards. We also hope to add innovative and specialized enclosures for orphaned baby birds. Our second goal is to expand our medical equipment to allow our staff vet to fully utilize her skills. To learn more about our big vision for the future and our goals for 2020, click here.

What Types of Animals Does the Hospital Care For?

Our hospital is equipped to take in and care for all species of hawks, eagles, owls, falcons, vultures, osprey, kites, and harriers that are found in our area. Click here to learn more about these magnificent creatures including where you can find them in the wild. We are also equipped to provide both routine and emergency medical services to our 200+ educational ambassadors. Click here to get to know our educational animals.

How Do Birds Get Injured?

The majority of our patients are injured as a direct result of human interaction. Reasons for admission include hit by vehicle, orphaned, poisoned, gunshot, window strike, entanglement in barbed wire or fishing line, trapped in buildings, lead toxicity, cat attack, power line collision, West Nile Virus, and starvation. From these causes of injury, we receive and are able to successfully rehabilitate a wide variety of conditions. Wing fractures are one of the most common injuries we see but we also treat a variety of other fractures, head injuries, eye injuries, soft tissue wounds, emaciation, infections, avian diseases, and more. We are constantly improving our treatments to be more successful by researching new techniques and adding new equipment to our facilities. The more our population continues to grow, the more we will affect wild animal populations and the greater the need will be for places like our hospital to care for them when they get injured. You can learn more about the injuries we see and the treatments we provide here.

From Admit to Release: What Happens to a Patient in Our Care?

Stabilize: Patients that come in in critical condition get intensive care including fluids, heat support, and oxygen therapy.

Examine: All patients get a full physical examination, including x-rays, to identify and assess the severity of their injuries.

Initial Treatment: From medications to wound cleaning to surgery, we do everything we can to put our patients on the path to recovery.

Indoor Care: Patients will initially spend time indoors where they can be closely monitored and receive regular administration of the treatments they need.

Recovery Enclosures: Once a patient’s injuries are healed, they move out to one of our recovery enclosures. From here they can practice short flights to start building up their muscle strength again.

Flight Conditioning: Peak physical condition is essential for survival in the wild. In our flight enclosures, birds can practice longer flights and gliding and get the exercise they need to return to the wild.

Release: The best part of what we do! Once patients are fully recovered, we take them back to their home territory and return them to the wild.

Want to learn more details about the care our patients receive? Click here for a behind the scenes look into how we care for our rehabilitation patients.

Want to see a bird get released back to the wild? Click here to find out how you can be part of this incredible experience.

Featured Patient:

Cooper’s Hawk with Severe Head and Eye Trauma: The call came in to our rescue hotline “Help! A hawk just hit our window and I think it’s dying.” Our hospital team quickly realized that this bird needed immediate medical attention as the caller described the hawk as seizing and convulsing on the ground. Fortunately, the finders were willing to help. They gently scooped the bird up and secured him for transport before driving him immediately to our facility. Our medical team was waiting with emergency medications ready and a space in our critical care room set up. Within 30 minutes of hitting the window, this bird was tucked into one of our ICU units on oxygen therapy with anti seizure, anti inflammatory, pain meds, and fluids on board.

Over the next few hours, he was closely monitored in our critical care room and his condition began to stabilize. As we were able to examine him further, we found that while he did not have any fractures, he did have significant trauma to his left eye. Several layers of the surface had been scraped off and some of the fluid was leaking out but there did not appear to be damage to the deeper portions of the eye. The seizures had stopped but he was not standing on his own and was holding his head twisted to the side. An ointment was applied to his eye and he continued on his pain and anti inflammatory meds while we monitored his progress.

Within a few days the bird was standing and walking on his own but we were still deeply concerned about the trauma to his eye. Cooper’s Hawks rely heavily on their vision to hunt and need perfect vision in both eyes to be able to quickly maneuver through obstacles in pursuit of food. Surface layers of the eye continued to peel away and fluid continued to leak out and at one point, the eye was almost completely deflated. As the damage stopped progressing, the hole the fluids were leaking from was able to close and the eye reinflated. Ointment continued to be applied three times per day as the damaged area healed in. Physical therapy was started on his neck to correct the head tilt.

After a long recovery of 6 weeks inside, the eye had healed to the point that the peeling area was just an opaque area in the center. It had fully reinflated and had both a good pupillary light response and good response to a menace test. The head tilt was also resolved and he was ready to move out to one of our recovery enclosures. Despite responding well to the in-hand visual tests, the bird clearly favored using his good right eye when in an outdoor enclosure. He used the right eye to watch us as we cleaned his enclosure and always turned in the same direction. When he received a follow up exam, we noted that the opaque area was continuing to shrink and he was starting to use his eyes more evenly when watching people move around his cage.

It took another two months in our recovery enclosure for the opaque area to completely disappear, but this bird was now ready for his final tests as he was moved to one of our big flight enclosures. We watched him closely as he navigated this new enclosure and saw no remaining signs of a visual deficiency. He gracefully avoided obstacles, turned in both directions, and observed us and his surroundings with both eyes. The only thing that remained was to build up his flight endurance so that he would be in peak condition for his return to the wild. After a week in our flight cage, he was ready to return to the wild!

Read more patient stories here!

How You Can Help

Are you inspired by our patients and want to help? You may be surprised at how easy it is to make a difference! Your daily actions affect the wildlife around you. Click here to learn how you can practice good environmental stewardship at home.

A donation also makes a huge impact! As a 501(c)(3) non-profit we receive no state or federal funding and instead rely on the generous donations of individuals and organizations. You can make a financial contribution or donate supplies from one of our wish lists.

  • Donate
  • Amazon Wishlist
  • Supply Wishlist

Want to make an impact on our hospital that will last for years to come? Sponsor one of our new enclosures or an item from our equipment wishlist. Click here to see what items are available to sponsor and either call: (636) 861-3225 or email: sponsor@worldbirdsanctuary.org

Able to give your time to help out? We are always accepting applications for volunteers. Hospital volunteer positions include Rehabilitation Assistant, Hotline Operator, and Rescue & Transportation Assistant. Due to the nature of our patient needs, hospital volunteers must be over the age of 16. Click here to learn more.

Looking to go into the animal care field as a career? Consider applying for our internship program. WBS offers both a general internship that will get you experience in all aspects of our mission and a 6 month rehabilitation internship for those pursuing a career in wildlife medicine.