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posted: 1/9/2014 4:46 PM

Willowbrook birds return home as cold finally eases

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  • Rose Augustine, wildlife specialist at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn, releases a black-crowned night heron. Staff members returned several birds to their enclosures Thursday after bringing them inside to protect them from this week's bitterly cold temperatures.

       Rose Augustine, wildlife specialist at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn, releases a black-crowned night heron. Staff members returned several birds to their enclosures Thursday after bringing them inside to protect them from this week's bitterly cold temperatures.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • A double-crested cormorant is back in its cage Thursday at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn.

       A double-crested cormorant is back in its cage Thursday at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • A black-crowned night heron was returned to its enclosure Thursday at Willowbrook Wildlife Center after being brought indoors to protect it from this week's extreme cold.

       A black-crowned night heron was returned to its enclosure Thursday at Willowbrook Wildlife Center after being brought indoors to protect it from this week's extreme cold.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
Daily Herald report

Several birds living at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn returned to their enclosures Thursday after being kept inside for much of the week as temperatures plunged to dangerous levels.

Staff members and volunteers at all three education centers operated by the DuPage County Forest Preserve District had taken extra steps this week to protect "resident animals" from the bitter cold and biting wind.

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At Willowbrook, a rehab facility for native wildlife, most of the animals can deal with Illinois winters, site manager Sandy Fejt said in a news release. But during extreme cold, staff members sometimes must either modify the animals' cages or temporarily move the creatures indoors.

That's what happened this week with several birds, including a black-crowned night heron and a double-crested cormorant.

On Thursday, staff members finally were able to return those birds to their regular haunts.

Elsewhere in the district, the horses at the Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton were kept in their stalls from Sunday through Wednesday morning.

"Because our largest barn has a pathway that wraps around the center stalls, our volunteers were able to lead the horses in a few laps to stretch their legs and prevent boredom during the cold snap," program coordinator Matt Dehnart said in a written statement.

At Kline Creek Farm, the district's 1890s living-history farm, staff members and volunteers brought horses and cattle indoors before temperatures plunged to ensure their winter coats had time to dry to offer effective insulation. They also made sure the sheepfold and chicken coop had dry bedding and the structures provided protection from the wind, officials said.

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