Our Birds: Whistler

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A.K.A.: Whis, The Peeper

Species: Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)

Sex: Female

Hatched: 1998

Arrived: 1998

Condition: Human Imprint (illegally raised by people)

whistler   whistler   whistler   whistler   whistler

Her Story

It’s hard to believe that this plucky little bird had a rough start in life. In her first year (1998), she was found in a farm field - skinny, sick and not afraid of people. A good samaritan delivered her to the Toronto Wildlife Centre, and their veterinarians tried to figure out what was wrong.

An exam, blood tests and x-rays showed no clues, but TWC staff noticed that Whistler slowly improved. She began to look healthy, but something didn’t seem right. Strangely, Whistler seemed fond of people. She made baby noises, recognized a falconer’s glove and would even hop into a travel crate.

TWC staff realized that Whistler was a human imprint: she was raised by people, and could not survive in the wild. She came to Wild Ontario later that year. Audiences adore her silly demeanour, and her story makes her an important ambassador for her species.

Species Information: Broad-winged Hawk

Range: Most of eastern North America. Migrates to Central and South America in winter.

Habitat: Likes dense forest, far away from people.

Diet: Any small animal it can catch, especially frogs, insects and rodents.

Fun Fact: Migrates south in huge numbers - over 700 000 have been seen in a single day!

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