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Did You Know: Arizona's Wild At Heart Rescue Specializes In Saving Birds Of Prey

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, August 14, 2015 - 3:08pm
Updated: Friday, August 14, 2015 - 3:18pm
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(Photo courtesy of Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
For more than 25 years, Wild at Heart has been working to conserve Arizona’s native wildlife.

There’s no other place like it in Arizona. Its mission is saving birds, but not just any bird.

For more than 25 years, Wild at Heart has been working to conserve Arizona’s native wildlife. It is the home for hundreds of birds in need of help. The center is led by a husband and wife team, Bob and Sam Fox.

Did you know Wild at Heart is an Arizona agency that specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating birds of prey?

“Here in Arizona we are the only raptor specific organization. Birds of prey are carnivores, they are defined by downward curving beak and sharp fixed talons. So, that’s hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, etc.," said Bob Fox, who is the co-founder of the agency.

“Now we have over 50 aviaries. Last year was our busiest year ever, we took in 620 plus birds of prey. This year we’re up about 20-percent on intake," Fox said.

The nonprofit in Cave Creek is run from the Fox’s home.  The couple created the agency in 1990 after realizing there wasn’t a place in Arizona dedicated solely to the care of raptors. 

At the beginning, they took in an injured owl, rehabilitated it and decided this was their calling. The Foxes respond to calls from the public about injured birds, and then bring birds to the facility where they’re rehabilitated. There are hawks, owls, eagles, and falcons.

It is a volunteer-led agency that also specializes in relocating burrowing owls from areas being developed.

“While the Heart has taken over, we’re right now standing in our treatment area which is where the birds come in for evaluation treatment, etc., and then from here they get transitioned outside to large enclosure," said Fox. “You can see this whole area is all full of aviaries.”

The birds are calm inside the large green colored-enclosures. The aviaries take up most of the one acre property. They are divided into spaces for the various birds and are large enough for the birds to fly around inside and recuperate.

 “This is one of our great horned owl educational bird; she’s missing most of her right wing. She was a gunshot victim. Her name is Scheherazade," said Fox.

Scheherazade has been around for about 20 years. She’s a foster-parent owl. She helps those nestlings that arrive injured grow and acclimate to their environment until they’re ready to go on their own. The birds are in enclosures where they recuperate.

“The thing that’s really important to understand is that there is a need for what we do. And the need is not just for the birds but it’s also for the people. People care and they have to find a resource to make sure that happens," Fox said.

Wild at Heart works with Arizona agencies and also helps other groups throughout the U.S. and internationally. Their efforts are called upon by groups as far away as Europe and Africa.

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