Thursday, January 28, 2010

This Phoenix Will Fly Again

A twin-engine plane crash occurred in the western suburbs of Chicago this past Saturday night. Unfortunately, both occupants of the plane perished in the crash. The plane had just taken off from a nearby airport when it went down, scattering debris that hit a home. No one was at the home when the crash happened so no one was injured. The only known injuries from the crash were sustained by a red tail hawk who has since been named Phoenix.

It is thought that Phoenix was roosting in a tree that became engulfed in flames at the time of the crash. Police noticed her as they were investigating the crash. Animal control was called and when they arrived they found Phoenix standing on one leg on a snow bank. She was immediately taken to Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center where rehab specialist Dawn Keller couldn't positively identify Phoenix due to the severity of her burns.

This is all that's left of Phoenix's tail feathers. The accident left her with only her downy under feathers and the shafts of her tail feathers.

Dawn and her staff spent Saturday night and Sunday morning trying to stabilize Phoenix who sustained severe burns to her feet and face, especially around her eyes.

Phoenix's eyelids were badly burned but luckily her eyes were spared. Hawks have inner and outer eyelids that protect their eyes from damage in the wild. These eyelids probably saved her eyes and her life. Constant care is given to Phoenix's eyes as she is nursed back to health.
Phoenix's feet were so badly burned that they are wrapped up so they don't get infected. The bandages are changed every hour and also provide a bit of relief to Phoenix as she heals.

Phoenix truly looks like a fighter and a survivor to me. The people at Flint Creek are committed to caring for her until she is healed. It's too early to tell if Phoenix will be able to return to the wild. If she cannot go back to her home in the woods, she will live out her life as an animal ambassador at Flint Creek, teaching the public about her species.

I feel so bad for Phoenix. Mom tells me that burns are among the worst injuries you can have. I've told Mom to take some of my treat money and donate it to Flint Creek so they can continue to care for Phoenix and all the other 2,800 animals they take in every year. With three locations in the Chicago area, Flint Creek's most critical patients like Phoenix are treated round the clock at the Barrington location. Receiving no government funding, this non-profit is entirely dependent on private donations.

As sad as I am about Phoenix, I like to think there are some positives to come out of this tragedy. It may come as a surprise to some, but not everyone is aware that wild animals like hawks live in Chicagoland. Hawks are such a critical part of our ecosystem and most of us just take them for granted. The most important work they do, keeping rodent and bird populations in check, goes mostly unknown by the casual observer. Phoenix's story, seen on the news every night and read in the paper every day, will introduce these wonderful animals to school children and adults alike. It's my hope that once people see her story, they will be compelled to learn more about hawks via bird walks, nature centers, and books. Education is key to preserving this and all species.

Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will also benefit from this tragedy. I'm betting that most people don't think about wildlife hehab centers until an animal comes into their life needing help. Who do they call? Animal control is one resource and wildlife rehab centers are another. You guys know that Mom is a birder and she is on a birder listserv. She see emails every week from people asking where they can take an injured bird they've found and Dawn Keller is always the first to respond. Her staff will come out to any location to pick up injured animals. Their dedication to the wildlife of our area is unprecedented. People hear and see this dedication and it shows them that people really do care about the natural world and are willing to do whatever they can to preserve wildlife. Phoenix's story will open eyes up to wildlife rehab centers. It will hopefully inspire people to volunteer at or donate to these centers. And of course they can visit the centers and learn about the animals' plights.

Even though I can't visit Phoenix, I will continue to follow her story. Everyone can learn from her experience, even a pug.

Our local tv show Chicago Tonight did a segment on Phoenix and Dawn last night. I couldn't upload the video but here's the link:,8,80&player=Chicago-Tonight&pid=pQaqdrukWvefo6BdclfNewX8DldClqm.

All photos courtesy of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation.


THE PUGLET said...

OH no! That is all very sad. The people, and poor Phoenix. That last picture of her made me leaky.

People like Dawn make the world a better place. And people who care enough to tell us about people like Dawn are pretty special too!

~ puglet

dw said...

I had heard about the plane crash, but missed the story about Phoenix. Thank you for bringing Phoenix's story to light and thanks also for all the work Dawn and Flint Creek Wildlife is doing for in Chicago. Usually the only news stories about wildlife in Chicago we hear are the deer who walk into Subway, or the cougars roaming the streets. I think I remember reading about Flint Creek as a place people would bring birds injured by crashing into the skyscrapers.

Stubby said...

Hi Puglet! Her pictures made me leaky too but not as much as her video. I wish I could go hang out with her because I could help nurse her back to health.

Dawn works her butt off for the all the animals and she is so modest. What would we do without Dawn? She is special and so are you.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi dw! You are so right about the wildlife stories. Do you remember the cougar that was shot a few years ago in the city? And all the recent news reports about coyotes? I'm afraid that so many animals get such bad press.

Flint has volunteers that walk through the Loop looking for birds that have hit windows during migration. Birds become very confused when they come into contact with tall lighted buildings and these people save lots of lives.

Stubby xoxo

Yoda & Brutus said...

We hope Phoenix makes a full recovery. Glad to know there are places out there that can help in situations like this.

Pugs & Kisses,

Yoda & Brutus

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Oh Stubby
that is so sad.
I am thankful to those who are taking care of her.
special people they are

Stella, Gunther & Betty said...

Hi Stubby,

Hawks, Owls and birds of prey in general hold a special place in my heart. Barn, and Great Horned owls are my favorite. They are very resilient and beautiful creatures. My husband manages several vineyards and they bring in Falconers to help control pests. Their Hawks and Owls are trained to stay in the vineyard. They are so fascinating. Whenever they come to our vineyards, my husband calls me so I can spend the day watching them.

Thank you so much for posting this story. I'm going to donate this organization for sure.


Debbie said...

This breaks my heart. I hope she gets better - I will say a prayer for her.

PugMoon - with, Bandit, Paisley, & Smokey pugs and their Mom Paula - PAPugMom said...


Thank you for sharing this story about Phoenix. We hope and pray all will be ok with her. What a wonderful place Flint Creek is and Dawn for helping her and all of the other animals in their care.

Stubby said...

Hi Yoda & Brutus! The people at Flint Creek are going to do everything they can to make sure Phoenix is okay. I'm heading over to their website right now to check on her.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Tweedles! You probably see lots of hawks in your forest. I wonder if any of them are related to Phoenix.

There are so many caring people in the world and it makes me so happy to see people taking care of injured animals.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Shannon! Mom and I have a sweet spot for birds of prey too. We have a red-tail hawk that visits our backyard every so often and Mom is constantly searching for hawks on telephone wires as she drives.

That's so cool that you get to go to the vineyards and watch the birds the Falconer brings to control the pests. Mom would love to do that. We've watched lots of shows about hawks and they never cease to amaze.

Thanks so much for donating to Flint Creek. It means so much to me.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Debbie! The accident was awful and it broke my heart too. Thanks for praying for Phoenix. I'm praying too and keeping my paws crossed that she'll be okay.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Paula, Bandit, Paisley & Smokey! Thanks for praying for Phoenix's recovery. She needs all the prayers she can get.

I'm praying for you too Bandit and I know you will make a full recovery. Take care of yourself little buddy.

Stubby xoxo

Anonymous said...

Oh the poor little thing that is so sad. I had heard about the crash (i think?) but didn't hear anything about Phoenix either.

Thanks for sharing her story even more :)

Stubby said...

Hi Lex! I wonder how many animals are injured and killing in accidents that we never hear about. It's amazing that Phoenix was able to fly to a snow bank. Maybe she flew there so someone would notice her.

Stubby xoxo

Hank said...

Awww, poor Phoenix!

Thank goodness for wildlife rehab!

We hope she recovers quickly.

Sarah, Hank and Molly

Stubby said...

Hi Sarah, Hank & Molly! I haven't heard anything about Phoenix in a few days. I hope she's still doing good but I'm going to do some investigating today.

Stubby xoxo