MRWC News

Fundraising for the much needed raptor flight compound continues, but some of the construction has already started. Groundwork has been started to ensure that we can continue to work on the project throughout the winter and as the funds come in. The old eagle cage has been dismantled with some of the material being reused in the new structure.

Currently we are in need of chain link donations to predator-proof the floor of the compound. if you can help, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Photo Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

People might see these little hawks and mistake it for a Red-tailed Hawk but on a closer look it will be noticed that they are much smaller and instead of the red tail of the larger bird they have a broadly banded tail. Broad-winged Hawks weigh from 265-560 grams and have a wing-span up to 100 cm.

Broad-winged Hawks gather in large groups or "kettles" sometimes up to thousands as they migrate south for winter, soaring along mountain ridges and coastlines at heights up to 1300m. This behavior makes them a favourite of hawk watchers.

These little hawks live in forested areas feeding on small mammals, reptiles, birds and insects. Their range is from southern Brazil to Northern Alberta.

Broad-winged Hawks tend to avoid living near humans nesting near wetlands and meadows. They lay 1-4 white eggs and both parents care for the young. Young are flying and learning to hunt at only 5-6 weeks old.

Interesting Facts:

  • These hawks have been tracked and are known to migrate an average of 4,350 miles travelling 69 miles per day.
  • Fossils up to 400,000 years old have been found in both the US and Puerto Rico.
  • Banded Broad-winged Hawks have been recorded at over 18 years old in the wild.
  • For many years MRWC had not seen any Broad-winged Hawks in the hospital but the last two years we have seen growing numbers. This year we released two and we still have one in care, recovering from a wing fracture.


Photo Credit: Dan Dzurisin

A tiny black fuzzy chick was admitted this August, sporting a lovely red moustache and beard. Staff created a mini wetland environment in an aquarium with a black and white feather duster in the corner. A heat pad under the duster, a dish of mealworms, and a small wading pond was also added. Baby was placed in his new environment and immediately headed for the safety of his new “feather duster mom”.

The mealworms quickly disappeared without our help and small krill and freeze-dried worms were added to the pond water that the interns brought in daily from our wetland. A complete set of feathers soon developed while the little bird continued to run and hide under his feather duster mom any time a person came near the cage. MRWC’s 70 acre wetland houses numerous Soras, so on a nice warm day, he was released near the reeds at our boat dock. There was no hesitation. He scooted off into the reeds near the water and was gone.


Photo Credit: National Audubon Society

Alberta has 6 types of Grebes ranging from the tiny Pied-billed to the larger and very vocal, Western Grebe. These birds are built very much like loons in that their legs are placed at the end of their body near the tail leaving them unable to stand and walk like other birds. They need a long run on water to be able to take off taking about 20 steps per second. This leaves grebes at an advantage if they find themselves on land. We often see “grounded” grebes on roads after a rainstorm. Wet pavement can confuse them into thinking it is a river, so they land on a very hard surface and are grounded, rarely doing any major damage.


We see most of these grounded grebes in the fall and spring as grebes are migrating. People often mistake these birds as ducks and can’t understand why they aren’t flying. This fall if you see a bird with a fat body, long beak, and possibly red eyes, on the ground that isn’t flying, text us a picture for ID and we’ll help direct you as to what to do.

It has been many years since we have been able to take school children and other groups for onsite education programs. Although fundraising is only beginning for our new interpretive centre, a Learning Lodge is currently being constructed where groups will be able to view an education program, along with getting a guided sensory nature walk.

Each year we notice that injuries seem to come in bunches. If we get one humeral fracture, over the next few weeks, we will often see numerous humeral fractures. This summer we have seen large numbers of birds with leg dysfunctions.

Birds who have been hit in the head or spine often suffer nerve damage resulting in limp, useless legs. MRWC’s protocol for these cases is to…

We are very lucky to have received two sea can donations for placement next to our hospital. They will be painted to match the new building, thanks to time and materials also donated by Phillip Johnson Painting. The extra storage space gives us a clean and rodent-proof area for tools and feed. The generous donors of the sea cans wish to remain anonymous.

After 16 years of handling the majority of the 150 education programs we do each year, Otis the Owl finally has a little help. Olive the Owl has joined our team after being orphaned this spring. She is not imprinted on people but has been socialized in order to be comfortable in her new role. She is still in training but has now attended several programs, wowing her audiences. Olive is fun and curious and will play a big part in connecting people to nature.

Staff at the Centre recently had a pleasant surprise when checking on the condition of a Big Brown Bat in recovery. As the enclosure was opened and staff reached for the recovering female bat, it was noticed that she had a rather large baby wrapped around her chest! The baby is surprisingly big weighing in at 3 grams. The normal weight of an adult Big Brown Bat is 17 grams. That equates to a human giving birth to about a 30lb baby!

How did this happen? Well, bats are one of approximately 100 species in the world that have what is known as delayed implantation. The bat is bred in the fall but holds the embryo in a dormant state until conditions are good and baby can grow.

Mother and baby are doing well but the next challenge will be what to do with the baby if mother doesn’t fly again. We are consulting with leading bat specialists to develop a plan.

For the past two springs we have been called to help the Parkland School in Red Deer as the snake hibernaculum (the place where snakes gather to spend the winter) on their property has numerous garter snakes awakening and making their way across the school grounds. The school is located a short distance from the Kerry Wood Nature Centre so the snakes are transported to the wetland and forest surrounding the Centre to spend their summer. They would have made their way there anyway but taking them away from the activity of a school ground is safer for both animals and people.

This year, as Gwen was moving the snakes, she noticed one that had some spine issue which limited her mobility. It was decided to take it back for some care and recovery. One June 22 that recovering garter snake gave birth to 22 healthy, little garter snakes! Although the female still cannot be released, after consultation with Alberta’s snake expert, the little snakes were released at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre where the mom would have given birth if not injured.

70% of the world’s snakes lay eggs while the others give birth to live young. Live-birthing, or viviparous snakes, tend to live in colder climates. Those who lay eggs require warmer climates to help incubate.