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Wildlife Vet Care – The Cage that sets birds free – Middleburg Eccentric – November 22, 2016

Normally when you think of a cage you think of a place to confine a person or animal. But a Flight Cage is different. A flight cage sets birds free. And Doctor Belinda Burwell needs one. And here’s why.

First a little background. Doctor Belinda Burwell is one of the leading wildlife experts in our area, having dedicated over 30 years of her life to rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned and injured wildlife. Having earned Bachelor of Science in Zoology from Duke University and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University.
Specializing in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine she received additional training at the Franklin Park Zoo, the Stone Zoo in Boston, and at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

She went on to work with wildlife and help bring public awareness to the cause, first in New Hampshire, then in Ohio where she also worked as the pro bono vet for the Lake Metroparks Wildlife Center, and now finally here in Virginia. found several wildlife and animal medical and rescue facilities in the area. Her latest project, “Wildlife Vet Care” is her most ambitious yet .

The mission of Wildlife Veterinary Care (WVC) is to supply veterinary care to sick and injured wildlife, and unlike many other facilities, WVC provides this care on an emergency basis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to providing emergency care the mission of WVC is to teach veterinarians, their staff, and veterinary students to do the same. WVC assists wildlife rehabilitator, environmental organizations and the public with wildlife health concerns, and monitors wildlife and environmental health. WVC rescues and rehabilitates wildlife, and teaches others to do the same. WVC also educates the public about wildlife rescue and wildlife health issues. Releases of wildlife back into the wild which is the ultimate goal of every rescue, are held regularly and the public is welcome to come and view these spectacular releases.

While WVC accepts all sorts of wildlife, Doctor Burwell’s special expertise is in birds. Dr. Burwell is one of only a few veterinarians providing orthopedic surgery to eagles and other large birds in this area. She has treated great horned owls, barred owls, barn owls, long-eared owls, screech owls, saw-whet owls, short-eared owls, Northern harriers, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, broad winged hawks, merlins, peregrine falcons, American kestrels, Cooper’s hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, and of course Bald Eagles.

And this is where the urgent need for a flight-cage comes into play. In order to rehabilitate these birds the center needs a large cage to exercise them in and even train them to fly or hunt for food again.

“These birds need to fly well and be strong enough to catch food and avoid predators when they are released back into the wild, so this preparation is essential to their survival.” – Belinda Burwell DVM

Currently the center is housing a bald eagle, a great horned owl and a red-tailed hawk, all which would benefit from a flight-cage on the premises. A great blue heron released last weekend would also have benefited from a larger flight rehabilitation cage before release.
The cost of the flight-cage is a hurdle but not an insurmountable one. For the site prep and all the construction and materials costs are expected to run around $50,000, so the center is reaching out to the general public to help raise the funds build the new cage and help Doctor Burwell continue her amazing work with our areas great birds of prey.

If you’d like to help Doctor Burwell and Wildlife Vet Care continue their amazing work rehabilitating our great birds of prey, then you can donate on their Facebook page, ( using the “Donate” button, or on their website ( or by sending a check to Wildlife Veterinary Care PO Box 288, Millwood, VA 22646.

Patients currently receiving care at the Center include a barred owl hit by a train that has head trauma, a red-tailed hawk with a fractured wing, a bald eagle recovering from trauma and an infection, a great horned owl found on a golf course that is recovering from an illness, another barred owl that was hit by a car and has a fractured beak and eye trauma, a pied-billed grebe that became grounded, four box turtles with fractured shells, a wood turtle and a box turtle with eye injuries, a squirrel that was attacked by a cat and a bat with a wing injury.

If you have injured or orphaned Wildlife please call 540-664-9494 any time. They are there to help. Doctor Burwell and the WVC are also accepting interns and trainees so if you have time and are willing to work to help these animals please contact the center.

To download the article in its entirety, as a PDF:  Wildlife Vet Care – The Cage that sets birds free – The Middleburg Eccentric – November 22, 2016

Great Horned Owl Returns to the Wild in Waterford – LoudounNow – October 5, 2016

A crowd of about 100 people gathered in Waterford on Sunday to witness the release of a great horned owl that had been found injured in April.

There were environmentalists, bird and nature lovers, village residents and kids who had heard about the release and just wanted to gather at the Schooley Mill Barn field to cheer the bird on its way to freedom.

Veterinarian Belinda Burwell, owner of Wildlife Veterinary Care, said the release had to be done at dusk. “Otherwise, if the crows realize it’s here, they’ll mob it,” she said.

Veterinarian Belinda Burwell prepares the young male great horned owl for release on a Waterford farm. The release was a team effort between Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Wildlife Veterinary Care and the Waterford Foundation. After giving the crowd a close-up look at the fierce-eyed young owl, Burwell asked everyone to stand back and opened her hands. The bird rose straight up, and then headed southwest toward a grove of trees along the creek.

The release was a partnership of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Wildlife Veterinary Care and the Waterford Foundation.
The story of the rescue and subsequent release through the help of a team of individuals and organizations is heart-warming. Burwell said the injured bird was seen on April 1 by Waterford resident Kim Benz and Mike Fitzgerald, near the tennis court at his Rosemont Farm southwest of the village.

Benz noticed the fluffy white bird lying on the leaves. “I crept up and picked it up,” she said. She then called Loudoun Animal Control Officer Kelli Kleptach, who in turn contacted Burwell.

“It had fallen out of its nest onto its head, hitting it hard and injuring its leg,” Burwell said, recalling the fledgling had wobbly balance for the first few weeks. “It had to learn how to survive,” she said.

Burwell turned to Nicole Hamilton, executive director at the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, to see if she could help locate the nest and its parents. LWC board members Patti Psaris, a neighbor of the Fitzgeralds, went looking for the nest and heard great horned owls calling from the wood line. She found the nest, but no birds. Psaris played a tape of owl calls to see if they would respond, but “they were long gone.”

So Burwell nursed the owl back to health over the summer, feeding it chopped frozen mouse in small bites from a tweezer. Since the nest site at Rosemont was not far from the Waterford Foundation’s Phillips Farm, it was decided that a release near it would provide a good foraging and sheltering habitat.

The great horned owl is released near Phillips Farm, which is expected to provide a good habitat for the fledgling bird, that had been found injured and was treated by Veterinarian Belinda Burwell .

To download the article in its entirety, as a PDF: Great Horned Owl Returns to the Wild in Waterford – LoudounNow – October 5, 2016

More News
Wildlife Vet Starts New Care Facility, The Winchester Star – December 5, 2015
Wildlife Center Founder Removed From Board, The Winchester Star – October 31, 2015
Wildlife Center Founder Says She Was Forced Out, The Winchester Star – September 5, 2015
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Names Executive Director, The Winchester Star – May 19, 2015

Care for sick and injured wildlife 540-664-9494