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Rehabilitating Native Birds – expanding your bird-keeping experience

American Kestrel

Welcome to the new home of That Avian Blog!

Certain of North America’s birds, such as cardinals, indigo buntings and bobwhite quail, feature prominently in European aviculture but are prohibited by law to bird keepers in the USA.  Licensed wildlife rehabilitators may, however, care for injured birds in certain circumstances (the birds must be released once recovered or turned over to a suitable facility if release proves inadvisable).

 Those seeking experience with native species should consider training as a wildlife rehabilitator.  Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so check with your local Department of Environmental Conservation, or corresponding state agency, for details.

 Some of my most memorable bird-keeping experiences arose in conjunction with 30+ years of caring for injured wild birds.  Most recently, I raised an American kestrel, Falco sparverius (“sparrow hawk” to old timers such as myself).  This tiny falcon, arguably the world’s most colorful, has made an amazing comeback in urban areas throughout the USA.  I know of a nest in the heart of NYC’s noisy East Village neighborhood, and have received individuals recovered from midtown Manhattan, the south Bronx and central Brooklyn.  In contrast to most falcons, the kestrel feeds largely upon insects – in NYC it favors cicadas in late summer, but I have yet to discover what forms the bulk of the diet at other times.

 The bird I raised recently proved unable to fly adequately due to his injuries, and is now a quite favored addition to the collection of a well-run nature center.

 I’ll write about my bird-rehabilitation experiences from time to time.  Meanwhile, please share your own thoughts and questions.  Thanks, until next time, Frank.

 Information concerning wildlife rehabilitators and rehabilitation centers, as well as other useful links, is posted at:


About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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