Release Stories

Snowy Owl

Many hands helped this raptor return to the wild. This Snowy Owl received its initial care at Center for Birds of Prey in South Carolina before being transferred to Tri-State for continued care. A second-year male, the owl was underweight and had a few wounds requiring sutures. After nearly a month of care from our professional clinic staff and numerous dedicated volunteers, this special patient proved himself ready for release. He had gained weight, exhibited strength in flight, and recovered from his injuries. Since this species is rare to our region, we consulted with the Snowy Owl experts at Project SNOWstorm to select an appropriate release location. Volunteer transporters arrived at the release site with the owl at dusk, which is a prime time for this largely nocturnal bird to gain its bearings. We’ve slowed the video down considerably so that you can see his graceful flight as he flies free once more. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to returning this majestic beauty to the wild!

Red-Tailed Hawk

 Police officers to the rescue! In late January, Delaware State Police personnel rescued a Red-tailed Hawk that had been struck by a vehicle. Once transported to our clinic, our team of professionals diagnosed the adult bird with head trauma and small abrasions on its feet and cere—the fleshy skin just above the beak where its nostrils are located. After weeks of rehabilitation and care by our outstanding volunteers and staff, this red-tailed beauty was fully recovered and ready for release back to its territory.


An unusual patient for Tri-State, this male Redhead was transferred to our facility from our fellow rehabilitation experts at City Wildlife in Washington, D.C., where initial treatment began for fractures and wounds sustained from a suspected animal attack. After continued care and aquatic rehabilitation in one of our outdoor pools, this dapper diving duck healed, regained his strength, and proved he was ready for release. This is a great example of rehabilitation centers working together to achieve a common goal. Just look at that face!

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American Woodcock

American Woodcock males are a perfect example of a species that specializes in acrobatic displays—sky dancing at dawn and dusk to attract a mate. We were thrilled to be able to release this rehabilitated woodcock patient recently to continue its natural journey where it belongs, back in the wild. If you click the link below, you’ll get a kick out of the distinctive sounds this beloved bird species makes…and wait for the ‘peent’!

Great Horned Owl Nestling

A nestling Great Horned Owl was transported to us when it was found on the ground after a Nor’easter. We are ecstatic to report that this owlet was successfully returned to its wild parents! It took a very dedicated group of volunteers, staff, a farmer and his tractor, and neighbors of the person who found the owl to make it happen. Whenever possible, we return young raptors to their natural parents or foster parents that can continue to raise these babies in the wild. Once the owlet was deemed ready, several experienced volunteers attached a new nest close to the site of the original nest, placed the owlet and food inside, and waited at a safe distance. We’re happy to report that one of the parent Great Horned Owls was quickly spotted at the nest with the owlet and resumed caring for the nestling. Thank you to everyone who contributed to returning this adorable but fierce raptor back to where it belongs!


Bald Eagle Nestling

Raptor reunion was a group effort! Many hands helped to return an approximately six-week-old Bald Eagle chick to its nest. Folks from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge found this male nestling on the ground, and Tri-State volunteer transporters brought him to our clinic. After a thorough evaluation and careful observation, it was determined that he was healthy, and the process of renesting him commenced. The chick was transported back to its home location, where a United States Fish and Wildlife Service raptor biologist, who is also an experienced tree climber, successfully placed him back in his original nest (he is the chick on the right in the bottom photo). Great news soon followed—the refuge reported that the patient and his sibling were seen later that evening with an adult in the nest. Renest photos courtesy of Nate Carle and Craig Koppie.

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Magnolia Warbler

A local citizen brought this injured diminutive bird to our facility. The Magnolia Warbler incurred a wound on its neck that required sutures. With expert care by our clinic staff and incredible volunteers, the warbler regained its health, strength, and was deemed fit for release. We’ve slowed the release video substantially for you to get a look at this striking songbird and its amazing flight back to the wild. It is estimated that only 4% of the forty million Magnolia Warblers worldwide spend time in the United States. To catch a glimpse of one is a special treat!

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Cooperation among agencies to the rescue…and research! Wildlife veterinarian Dr. Erica Miller, along with an Eagle Project volunteer, were integral in rescuing three Bald Eagles found in a farm field that were unable to fly. Secondary poisoning was soon diagnosed and the raptors were quickly treated. After returning to health through professional rehabilitation at Tri-State, one of the eagles, a 4-year-old male, was fitted with a solar-charged, battery-powered satellite GPS transmitter prior to release with the assistance of NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife.  Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ has made it possible to track this youngster they named ‘Pedro’, who is back in the wild where he belongs. The transmitter project is designed to help wildlife biologists learn about the life cycle of non-breeding, sub-adult bald eagles and to help protect communal roost sites. To learn more about Pedro, track where he ventures, and read about the Bald Eagle transmitter project, go to:
Photos by Marian Quinn

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Indigo Buntling

A local citizen brought this Indigo Bunting to our clinic. It was found on the ground with wounds on its shoulder. After the scapula wound was cleaned and sutured by our wildlife veterinarian, numerous volunteers assisted in this magnificent blue bird’s path to recovery. Once the songbird regained its weight and demonstrated impeccable flight, it was released back to its territory where it belongs. This species is a long-distance migrant, breeding in the eastern half of the United States and flying over 1,200 miles to winter in southern Florida, Central America, and northern South America. Learn more about Indigo Buntings here:

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Baby Brown Thrashers

Three young Brown Thrasher fledglings were brought to us for care after they were found wet and cold after a storm with no parents in the vicinity. Like many songbirds, these young birds grow up fast and are often ready to leave the nest within 14 days of hatching. They quickly outgrew their housing and were moved outdoors after fledgling. Once all three birds were self-feeding, flying strong, and ready, they were returned to the wild!

Long - Tailed Ducks

Two male Long-tailed Ducks were brought to our clinic by a commercial diver who found them entangled in fishing line and with hooks embedded in their wings. The hooks were removed and their wounds cleaned and sutured. One of the wounds had closed, they were moved into an outdoor cage with a pool.

One of the drakes recuperated quickly and was released back into the wild. The other duck had a significant injury from the hook and required a little more time to fully recuperate. About a week after the first, the second drake was ready for release and was returned to the open waters.

We were delighted to be able to return both of these handsome winter visitors to the wild.

View their story in the video below. We thank our friends at the Delaware Center For The Inland Bays for the release photographs!

Oiled Juvenile Northern Gannet

Thanks to  many organizations, this juvenile Northern Gannet received a second chance! The Raptor Trust in New Jersey admitted the seabird and provided its initial rehabilitation before it was transferred to our facility to be washed. The gannet had an unknown, tar-like contaminant on its feathers. After a test to determine to right amount of pre-treatment and detergent for the wash, the gannet was carefully cleaned and rinsed by the Oil Spill Response Team. Soon after the wash, the gannet was moved to an outdoor pool so it could put the finishing touches on its waterproofing through bathing and preening and prepare to return to the wild. With the help of our friends at Delaware Bay & River Cooperative  we were able to return this young and feisty seabird back to the waters of the Atlantic, where it belongs!

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