Raptor Rehabilitation Cage at Willowbrook Forest Preserve

Project History

The Willowbrook Wildlife Center is a native wildlife rehabilitation facility that provides care and medical treatment for injured and orphaned wild animals. As an education center, it serves as a resource for county residents who wish to learn how to live in harmony with local wildlife. Since 1956, the preserve has been a haven for injured animals. In 1981, the Forest Preserve District added a new education and treatment center, and an outdoor exhibit area. The site was, then, officially named the Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

One of Willowbrook Wildlife Center’s goals is to provide care and treatment to DuPage County’s native and migrant wildlife. Every year, qualified staff and trained volunteers tend to thousands of native animals the public brings to the Center. The Center bands or tags rehabilitated animals for tracking purposes before releasing them back into their natural habitats.

The Center’s existing raptor rehab facilities do not meet current recommended guidelines or space requirements for housing and rehabilitating hawks, owls and other small birds of prey. As a result, planning for new raptor rehabilitation facility began during the summer of 2006.

Project Overview

Rempe-Sharp and Associates of Geneva, IL was the consultant selected to provide design and structural engineering services for the facility. In collaboration with the wildlife keepers at Willowbrook, the District’s Landscape Architects and other raptor rehabilitation organizations across the country a unique facility was designed. The proposed open air and oval shaped building was specifically designed to comply with the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s guidelines for holding raptors in captivity. The facility contains three interior dormitories that can be subdivided into temporary living spaces with nest boxes. A central hallway provides access to the dormitories and outer oval ring. This ring is referred to as the flight ring. The oval shape of the structure allows for continuous flight and banking enabling raptors to strengthen their wings faster. In order to acclimate the raptors to weather conditions before they are released back into the wild, the roof and sidewalls are constructed of treated wood and IPE slats with ¾” gaps to allow natural elements in, while keeping predators out. Concrete foundations extending 12” above grade and 4’ below along the outer perimeter keep digging predators out as well. The floor of the dormitories and flight ring contains over 20” of washed gravel to provide adequate drainage to under drains during rain events or when cleaning the dormitories and flight ring.

The project specifically involves constructing an approximately 3,300 SF (oval shaped 55’x65’) concrete, masonry and wood framed raptor rehabilitation cage with miscellaneous site work and utility tie-ins; including water, yard hydrants, electrical outlets and lighting.

Project Funding

Funding is provided through yearly appropriated Construction and Development Funds, as well as funds from the 2007 Bond Referendum. Approximately $500,000.00 has been allocated to cover all design, permitting and construction costs for the facility.

Current Status (updated March 31, 2010)

The project is currently under construction.  Tuscany Construction of Addison, IL was awarded the construction contract in January of 2010 and began site clearing operations in late January.  All work is scheduled to be completed by June 24, 2010. Willowbrook’s education center and animal hospital will remain open to the public for the duration of the construction phase.

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