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Meet Our Residents

hortense2Brought to us in October of 1988, Hortense the Turkey vulture is one of the oldest residents. She was admitted with a broken bone in her left wing that was severe enough to require amputation. However don't feel too bad for her, Hortense adapted to captive life amazingly well. In the early years she visited schools, and for one educator she particularly liked, would fetch items. In recent years, she had been retired from travel and lives in a permanent indoor and outdoor enclosure, due both to her old age and suspected arthritis. Most days she can be seen preening her feathers or sunning outside.

At 4 pounds and with a wingspan that once reached almost 6 feet, she is one of the largest birds we have. To keep her healthy she is fed half a pound of meat every day. Although in the wild they would eat food sometimes up to a week old, Hortense gets day old leftovers from the other residents including fish, mice, rats, venison and quail.

Click here to learn more about Turkey Vultures.


Woody4Woody the wood turtle joined our crew back in 1990, and we believe he is in his mid thirties. He was formally the pet of a gentleman from another state. When he moved to Wisconsin, where wood turtles are a threatened species, he needed a special permit to keep Woody. Unfortunately he wasn't able to attain it and Woody needed a new home. The story ends happily however, as Woody found a new home with us and his former owner visited him as long as he was able.

Woody still gets a lot of attention both from visitors and those of us who work here. When he isn't munching on fruits, vegetables, turtle food, dog food, and the occasional Madagascar hissing cockroach, he is either·wallowing in his tub, soaking up some artificial sunlight, or walking around the center hunting for shoes to chomp on.

Click here to learn more about Wood Turtles.



TatianaFrom the other side of the Atlantic, and in North America due to the exotic pet trade, Tatiana is a Russian Tortoise. Found walking in someone's driveway we think that she was either released when she was no longer wanted, or she dug her way out of her yard. Luckily·Tatiana was found and was brought to us in June of 2002.

Since then she spends most of her days in her dirt covered enclosure, burrowing into the corners or,·when there aren't any visitors, we let her wander around the Center, where she hunts for new places to hide. Being a complete vegetarian she gets a plate of vegetables and grassland diet everyday.

Click here to learn more about Russian Tortoise's.





Most of our reptile residents were former pets, but Hook, our Painted Turtle, is a non-releasable rehabilitation patient. Hook came in July of 1999 with a fishing hook embedded in her left leg and the left side of her face. We were able to remove the hook, but it left her without her left foot and blind in her left eye.

However she swims surprisingly well, spending her days swimming in the tank she shares with a couple of goldfish and Snort, another turtle. She is fed aquatic turtle food and the occasional earth worm with us, but in the wild Painted Turtles would eat insects, algae and crustaceans. The main reason sge could not be released is even she could swim, we did not feel that she could swim well enough to catch food and avoid predators.

Click here to learn more about Painted Turtles.







There are a lot of species of turtles that can be found in Wisconsin, but Three Toed Box Turtles aren't normally one of them. We however have four. Speedy, Pandora, Bull, and Sheldon are all former pets that have come to us over the years. They were all born and raised in captivity, but you can find find them in the wild in the southern states.

Box turtles, no matter where they are in the world, are called so because of a special defense. When frightened box turtles can pull their head and legs into their·shells. So far standard for any turtle. However in box turtles, the bottom half of their shell has a hinge that they can pull up and close themselves in, like a box.

Click here to learn more about Three Toed Box Turtles.



Candy2If you are one of those people who doesn't like snakes, come spend some time with Candy the Corn snake, and you might just change your mind. Another hitchhiker, Candy made her way to us in the summer of 2003 from the south. While corn snakes can be found in Wisconsin, it is only in the southernmost regions.

At four feet long, Candy is a small snake and she is the second resident we have that gets live food. She receives one live mouse every two weeks. Candy doesn't often leave the center for programs, but she is a favorite on tours as she twines around the wrist, arm, or neck of whoever happens to be holding her at the time, flicking her tongue out curiously.

Click here to learn more about Corn Snakes.



HPIM6911Here in Minocqua we get our fair share of Florida visitors, however this next resident has permanatly left the sunshine·state and found her way to us.· Hubertus is a Florida Soft-Shelled Turtle that was brought into us in Fall 1997.

These turtles can grow very large; Hubertus is about the size of a serving platter. Along with that large body comes a very long neck that in the wild is used to snatch at fish, crustaceans, and the occasional waterfowl. However Hubertus does seem to realize this. A few years ago we purchased goldfish that we placed in her tank. They are still here, sharing Hubertus' tank, occasionally eating her aquatic turtle food.

Click here to learn more about the Florida Soft-Shelled Turtles.


007Tell most three-year-olds that their dinner is going to be raw deer and fish, and more than likely you are going to get a resounding "EWWWW!" However Eddie our Juvenile Bald Eagle doesn't seem to mind. Eddie came to us on July 28, 2009. He came in as a young bird, probably having just left the nest, with a dislocated right shoulder. Although we were able to fix the bone, his tendons had over-stretched and he could no longer fly.

At almost 8 pounds, Eddie is the largest bird that we have. However when females can weigh as much 13 pounds, Eddie comes in at the small end of the scale. Now, you might notice that he doesn't exactly look like a Bald Eagle. This is because they don't develop the white head and white tail feathers until they are between four and five years old.

Eddie is our only raptor that receives live food. There is a pond in his enclosure that we occasionally fill with live fish. We aren't quite sure how he catches them, but we know he does.

Juvenile Bald Eagles are sometimes confused with Golden Eagles. In Wisconsin if you see an eagle with this coloring in the summer it is probably a juvenile Bald Eagle, as Golden Eagles are usually only here during the winter. It can be much harder to figure out what you are seeing in the winter months.

Click here to learn more about Bald Eagles·.






Most people when they hear the phrase "Bird of Prey" think big. A giant bald eagle or a Red-tailed hawk; however most come in small packages. Tiva Jada or TJ, our American kestrel can attest to that. Weighing in at five ounces, about the same as a deck of cards, and standing as tall as a Robin, TJ isn't going to be tipping any heavy weight scales anytime soon. Don't underestimate her though. American Kestrels are the smallest falcons in North American and can be aggressive bird-eaters.

TJ however is as close to a sweetheart as a predator can be. Extremely young when she was brought into us in the fall of 2008, she has an infection in her right eye and neck trauma. The infection eventually left her blind in her right eye, and she was deemed non-releasable. We started working with her daily, and since she was so young she imprinted on people, essentially believing that she is a person. This can lead to some goofy moments, but it makes TJ one of the calmest and most fun birds we have at the facility.

Extremly social, TJ is probably the only bird we have that never tires of visiting people, having her picture taken, or being admired. But then again, when you're as pretty as she is, maybe thats a good thing.

Click here to learn more about American Kestrels.



If you have siblings, then you know the arguments that can erupt over space.· When Race joined our facility on May 6th 2012, indignant squawks could be heard for most of the day. Not to worry though, Sierra and Race, our two Red-Tailed Hawks, never did more than argue a bit before becoming comfortable roommates.·

In raptors the female is generally larger than the male and these two are a perfect example, as Sierra, our female, outweighs Race, our male, by little over a pound. Brought to us in 2004, she is large even for a female however and makes Race look dainty.

Both birds have a limited ability to fly, but neither of them is capable of sustained flying or soaring. Sierra was transferred from a facility in Tennessee after her bones healed improperly after being shot, and Race was transferred from Illinois after dislocating one of his elbows.

Nowadays rather than arguing they can after be seen sitting next to one another, either eyeing the rats that make up breakfast, or watch us as we pass by.

Click here to learn more about Red-tailed Hawks.·



If you ever hear an eerie "too, too, too" calling out at night, have no fear. It just means that Wisconsin's smallest owl is giving an evening greeting. If you ever hear that same call here at the center please let us know because for the most part, Cecil, our Northern Saw-whet owl is stubbornly silent.

Cecil was brought to us in 2009 after being hit by a car, leaving him blind in his left eye.

Saw-whet owls are small birds' (weighing only three ounces) which means that they go after small prey. In the wild they would eat mice, shrews, bat, and small birds. Here with us they get a small mouse every day.

Click here to learn more about Northern Saw-whet owls.


DCOur resident Eastern Screech owl, and newest member of the NWC family is D.C. a red-morph Screech Owl. Very vocal, she joined our facility October 26th, 2012 after being blinded in one eye. Named in honor of our former executive director Diane Chart, by all signs she is settling to her new home.

In the wild these small birds are often hard to spot due to their small size and camouflage coloring; however they can be found throughout most of the wooded areas of the eastern United States. Your best chance of noticing them in the wild is listening for their call. These birds can come in color patterns of grey and reddish brown. Our own Fritz is grey camouflage sometimes blending into the trees in his enclosure.


Click here to learn more about Eastern Screech owls.

leoFor most of our birds of prey it can be difficult to determine gender. Females are generally larger than males, but there is usually no visual difference. Throw in the fact that there is a range where female and male weights overlap and you have a hard time figuring out gender. Leo our Long-Eared Owl is one of several animals that we aren't sure is he is a large male, or if she is a small female. However our former executive director joked he is a male "because", as she put it, "only boys have eyelashes that long."

Leo joined our family in October 2004, a small half pound owl, after being transferred from another facility. Non-releasable to due a break in his right wing Leo has some flight capability but not enough for long term flight. Recently glove trained, Leo has begun to join us off of the facility for programs, where his "ears" always elicit a question or two. However the long feathers on top of his head that give this species there common name have nothing to do with hearing. They are thought to be a way for owls to silently communicate with one another. Leo's ears are actually not visible as they are simply holes in his skull.

Click here to learn more about Long Eared Owls.


299198_10150348395309065_828807366_nIf you've ever been lucky enough to see an owl out in the wild, or hear them "hoo, hoo, hoooo"-ing in the night, it was probably a member of Errol's species. Great Horned Owls are the most common owls in the United States and can be found from coast to coast. Large birds,·our Errol weighs in at just under four pounds.

Errol came in as a patient in March of 2010 after hunting mishap. Skinny and weak, he smelled like skunk and had a bite wound to his right foot. We think that grabbed onto a skunk that fought back leaving him with·two unresponsive toes on his right foot and unable to hunt. We have noticed that from time to time he still tries to grab food with his bad foot and ends up empty handed. Since he joined us as an adult we are unsure as to how·old he is. He could·have come in as young as·a year old, or could be in his thirties. We are assuming that he is younger and his injuries are the result of youthful inexperience.

He has adapted to captivity well. He is not our most social bird, but he no longer harbors any true fear of people. He spends his day either watching the people who walk by, the raccoons in the enclosure behind him or (believe it or not) eyeing the hummingbird that enjoys chattering at him through the chain link fence.

Click here to learn more about Great Horned Owls.



Two of our most stunning birds Willow and Rhea our Barred Owls always steal the show. They have solid brown eyes rather than the yellow and black you see in other birds of prey, giving them a rather distinctive look.

Rhea is the older of the two and joined us on July 18, 1999 after falling out of her nest and subsequently being mauled by a dog. Luckily she suffered no serious internal injuries but her right radius and ulna (the lower bones of the wing) and well as the muscles around them were so badly damaged that her right wing had to be amputated at the elbow. Willow joined us four years later after also falling out of her nest and breaking a bone in her upper wing that never healed properly.

Barred owls have a distinctive call that loosely translated is “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?” One of our more vocal birds, Willow will sometimes deign to speak to a tour group.

Click here to learn more about Barred Owls.




In December of 2011 a rather high strung adult male Cooper’s Hawk, who would be named Marty, joined our facility after being transferred from Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab and Education near Rockford Illinois. He suffered several fractures to his left ulna, metacarpals (wrist bones), and phalanges (finger bones) that unfortunately left him unable to make sharp turns.

Cooper’s Hawk are aggressive hunters with a dare-devil maneuvers that sometimes lead to injuries. In one study of 300 Cooper’s Hawks skeletons, 23% had healed over fractures to the chest and collar bones.

Marty however doesn’t have to perform many of those maneuvers any more. Most of his time is spent in the highest perch in his home, sunning himself and watching tours go by. The most acrobatics he performs comes once a month when he tries to avoid his regular exam.

Click here to learn more about Cooper's Hawks.



August 2011 we received a phone, variations of which we’ve heard many times before. “There’s a hawk in my yard that can’t fly.” After some discussion we decided to head out. Turns out that the young bird couldn’t fly. He was probably a week short of leaving the nest, and the original intention was to place him back with his siblings. However after picking him up we realized that he was missing his right eye. Not long after the little Broad Winged hawk was named Rory and became one of our permanent residents.

One of our most popular glove-trained birds broad winged hawks can be difficult to spot in their breeding habitat, but as friendly as Rory is many people get an up close and personal view. Imprinted on people he’s very personable often chirping at everyone.

Click here to learn more about Broad Winged Hawks.

Comming Event


Saturday, February 10th
at the Campanile Center
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