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Upgrades designed to help injured birds in DuPage

AliciSeghi wildlife keeper Willowbrook Wildlife Center Glen Ellyn feeds robflight cage Friday July 20 2012. The robalong with 160 other

Alicia Seghi, a wildlife keeper at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn feeds a robin in a flight cage on Friday, July 20, 2012. The robin, along with 160 other animals, were brought to the center following the big storms over the past month. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 7, 2013 6:47AM

A new grant is totally for the birds — literally.

Injured wild birds recuperating at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn are enjoying a new amenity this winter: improved water sources provided for by an $800 grant funded by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources from contributions to the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund.

The center handles birds from throughout DuPage including Naperville.

The grant supported electrical upgrades to two outdoor rehabilitation areas. In the songbird cages, the upgrades allowed for the installation of heated water bowls since even in the cold days of winter birds need open water for drinking and bathing. In the waterfowl enclosure, upgrades provided a heater and aerator to keep water open and circulating in the existing pond.

“The equipment works well in the cold weather, and the animals are definitely using the open-water sources,” said Jennifer Nevis, the Wildlife Center’s staff veterinarian.

Throughout the year, species ranging from small songbirds, like indigo buntings, to large wading birds, like great blue herons, may recuperate in the outdoor enclosures.

The center, one of the largest wildlife-rehabilitation centers in the nation, accepts thousands of injured wild animals for treatment each year.

“We strive to provide settings that allow animals to carry out their normal behaviors so they’re ready for life back in the wild once they are healed,” said Nevis.

Some permanently injured animals that would not survive in the wild live at the center year-round, providing opportunities for visitors to learn about their animal neighbors.

The grant provided for project supplies, and the installation work was completed by the DuPage Forest District’s in-house maintenance crews. This spring, a water filter will be added to the waterfowl enclosure to provide a constant source of fresh water for endangered Blanding’s turtles that are also housed there as part of a head-start rearing program.

Willowbrook Wildlife Center is open daily (except major holidays) and offers unique exhibits and programs for visitors of all ages.

It is located at 525 S. Park Blvd. in Glen Ellyn. To learn more, call the center at 630-942-6200.

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