Giving Birds A Place Called Hope

By Ryan Hanrahan
|  Friday, Nov 19, 2010  |  Updated 2:26 PM EDT
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A small group of volunteers rehabilitate hundreds of injured birds.

A small group of volunteers rehabilitate hundreds of injured birds.

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Christine Cummings and her husband Todd Secki have dedicated the last couple years of their lives to protecting and rehabbing majestic birds.

Several years ago both Cummings and Secki founded A Place Called Hope, a non-profit organization, behind their Killingworth home.

Hundreds of injured hawks, owls, ravens, and crows pass through A Place Called Hope each year.

Most birds were injured by cars and some are so badly injured they need to be put down. "Our mission is to preserve wildlife for the future," Cummings said. "So releasing birds into the wild after their brief stay here is out goal."

Some animals that aren't released back into the wild become permanent residents at A Place Called Hope and are used for education programs about birds of prey.

"Learning about things on TV or in books is great," Secki said. "But there's nothing like a hands on experience."

For a suggested donation the couple takes the birds all over the state to educate people about the importance of protecting our surroundings and environment.

Autumn is one of the Red Tailed hawks used for educational programs.

She was hit by a car and is blind in one eye and probably wouldn't make it in the wild. Other birds that are injured come to A Place Called Hope for medical attention and some get released.

Spirit is a Red Tailed hawk that was released in October and has come back every single day for a meal. "When she was strong enough we set her free right here on the property," Cummings said. "She comes back on pretty much a regular basis to see her family."

Spirit nearly died before being rescued by a Wallingford animal control officer who found her on the ground emaciated after her nest was removed from a billboard.

The most exciting part, Todd and Christine say, is being able to set a bird free. This year about 100 have been released, many in a field right across the street from their home.

"Sometimes it's bittersweet," Cummings said. "You do get attached to the bird. The longer they're at the facility the more likely your bond with them grows and yeah, you worry about them."

Secki said that when a bird is released they're not just releasing one bird they're potentially releasing generations back in to the wild.

Secki and Cummings hope that their education program teach kids especially the beauty and importance of Connecticut's natural surroundings.

A Place Called Hope is Holding a holiday open house on Sunday, Dec. 12 from 1-4 p.m. You can get here details here

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