My name is Candy Ridlbauer, and I have always had a passion for wildlife. All my life, starting in early childhood with my family and then into adulthood I have been involved in camping, hiking, paddling, birding, etc. An opportunity came about in 1997 to work with birds of prey on a volunteer basis at the Regional Environmental Center located in the Pecatonica Forest Preserve in Illinois. The person I mentored under was a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, a math and science teacher, a master falconer, etc. There, and at many wildlife rehabilitation conferences and workshops such as fluid and medication therapy, fracture immobilization, wound management, suturing and radiology workshops, as well as networking with other professionals in the field, I acquired the skills necessary for raptor rehabilitation. At the same center, we had educational birds of prey that were used in daily programs for field trips from area schools. I took care of the daily needs of these feathered ambassadors and mastered handling for education purposes.
After a couple of years I applied for and was granted state and federal permits for wildlife rehabilitation. A couple of years after that, I applied for and was granted state and federal permits for possession of live birds, dead specimens, as well as endangered species permits. In all, I have 8 state and federal permits, including now a Bald Eagle permit.
The center eventually closed. From there, the nonprofit Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab & Education was formed by me and my husband, Steve. Our mission is to rehabilitate sick, injured, and/or orphaned hawks, owls, falcons, eagles, osprey and kites with the goal of releasing healthy birds back to the wild. We use holistic/alternative methods of treatment such as homeopathy and Tellington Touch, as well as traditional methods of treatment with the help of incredible local vets. We belong to national and international wildlife rehabilitation organizations in addition to Wisconsin and Illinois wildlife rehabilitation organizations and other organizations related to avian training, maintenance, falconry, etc.
We have many non-releasable permanent birds of prey who are raptor ambassadors representing their species in our educational programs either here or in outreach. These same birds will sometimes take on the role of foster parenting of orphans. Our education programs are presented to schools, civic organizations, youth groups, nursing homes, nature centers, festivals, corporate organizations and others to promote education and understanding of raptors, their habitat, the roles they play in nature and in our lives, and what we can do to ensure these magnificent creatures will be here for future generations. Our website is northernillinoisraptor.org.
Northern Illinois Raptor Rehabilitation and Education Center was founded in 2004 and became a nonprofit organization in 2008.