Feathered casualties of the North Texas tornadoes




Posted on April 21, 2012 at 8:39 AM

HUTCHINS -- Recent tornadoes sent only a handful of people to the hospital. But, there are hundreds of storm victims of the wildlife variety still recovering.

"Firefighters were cutting up the tree and came upon the cavity where these screech owls were," explained Kathy Rogers, as she feeds the baby owls tiny bits of meat.

Without the helping human hands, the tennis-ball sized chicks would have died.

"Every time there's a spring storm a tornado" said Rogers. "There's all kinds of little storm victims. And they come pouring in by the tens and tens of hundreds."

Rogers runs the Rogers Wildlife Rehab Center in Hutchins, a sort of hospital for feathered casualties. It is the only one of its kind in North Texas. For Rogers, the rehab center is a labor of love and a calling.

Since the tornadoes, people have brought in hundreds of birds grounded by Mother Nature, including sparrows, starlings, screech owls, blue jays, cardinals, rens and chickadees.

"They come in with broken legs, broken wings and or sick from being out so long," said Rogers. "And we tend to all of that, then we put them back in the wild when they're ready."

Like a hospital for people, injured or newly hatched birds need constant care. Sometimes recovery takes months.

"It's very labor intensive project when you are talking about two or three hundred babies that have to be fed every 20 or 30 minutes," said Rogers, feeding worms to a boxful of newly hatched chick of various varieties. "It's a full time job for several people. We look forward to the kids getting out of school, the high school kids that would love to have some fun for the summer and come and feed baby birds."

The rehab center is non-profit and runs entirely on donations and with the help of volunteers.

The ultimate goal is to heal winged wildlife so they can soar again.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com