Injured eagle rehab fundraiser’s focus

SYCAMORE – The second annual “Babies Gone WILD!” fundraiser for Oaken Acres Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the Regale Center in Sycamore.

Deshka, a bald eagle that belongs to George and Berni Richter of SOAR: Save Our American Raptors, will be the special guest of the evening. Deshka’s appearance will officially kick off Oaken Acres’ Start Seeing Eagles fundraising project to build an eagle flight cage.

Oaken Acres has cared for more than 12,000 wild animals since opening in 1984. Founder Kathy Stelford has taken pride in being able to help almost any orphaned or injured wild animal, but had to turn down an injured eagle fledgling last year because the facility does not have a cage capable of rehabilitating eagles.

“We need to meet the standards of the U.S. Federal Fish and Wildlife for caging, and that means the new flight pen has to be a minimum of 100 feet long,” Oaken Acres Director of Operations Christy Gerbitz said. She’s working with local architect Don Whitmore on design, and they anticipate the cage will cost at least $30,000.

“This is a huge investment for Oaken Acres, but we’re going to make certain this is a multipurpose cage that can serve many different raptor species if we don’t have an eagle in rehab,” Gerbitz said.

Eagles are expanding their range and now nest in DeKalb County, so Oaken Acres can expect to see eagles again in the future.

People attending “Babies Gone WILD!” can also meet the Oaken Acres ambassadors: Vinnie the turkey vulture, Stinky the screech owl, Hamlet the barred owl and Sedona the barn owl.

“We’ve been training volunteer bird handlers for programs with our birds, and a few of us will be attending a raptor handling and education course in 2014,” Gerbitz said. “We’re really exciting about being able to offer programs to our community.”

Tickets are $20 and include a Mexican buffet catered by Taxco. There will be a cash bar and an auction. Items for sale at the auction include a Florida vacation; NIU, Cubs and White Sox sports tickets; a weeklong African safari; and much more.

Oaken Acres is also accepted applications for interns and volunteers. For information, email

For more information, visit or find Oaken Acres on Facebook. To purchase tickets, go to and enter “Tickets” on the Review page. Tickets can also be ordered by emailing or by mailing a check to Oaken Acres at 12140 Aldrich Road, Sycamore, IL 60178.

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