By Anne Eickstadt


Belvidere’s Ida Public Library invited some unusual guests to come for their family program on Friday, Jan. 13.

“Hoo” Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center brought three of their animals to meet the kids.Karin Voy, Toni Murray, and Collin Howard, “Hoo” Haven volunteers, escorted the animals for the evening and discussed the animals’ abilities and features.

Murray handled the first creature, a barred owl named Kenyata (rhymes with piñata). Kenyata originally came to “Hoo” Haven with an injured wing which is still not strong enough to keep her in flight and alive if released back into the wild. She also has developed a cataract in one eye and has become an animal ambassador for “Hoo” Haven.

There are about 200 species of owls;12 of the species indigenous to the United States and seven types which live in Illinois. Owls are silent as they fly; even their wings make no sounds. They have the sharp beaks and talons of hunters. Their ears are offset so they can pinpoint the sound of small prey even under six feet of snow. They also have 14 neck vertebrae for a remarkable twist radius of 270 degrees.

Howard held Bob, an American kestrel, the smallest and most common falcon in the United States. The males also are the most colorful falcon. These raptors are small enough to be mistaken for pigeons while sitting on telephone wires. American Kestrels depend on their sharp eyesight and are built for speed. They also have the sharp talons and beak of a hunter.

The third animal from “Hoo” Haven was a corn snake which they rescued from a pet store.

Voy explained how its unusual golden-yellow coloration would make it unlikely to survive long in the wild because it cannot blend in to its surroundings. Corn snakes are constrictors and live all across the United States. They live in fields and eat moles, mice, and other small creatures.

“We cannot release an animal into the wild until spring when the weather warms up. The temperature needs to be within 20 degrees of their living environment at “Hoo” Haven or they will freeze,” Voy said. ‘“Hoo” Haven currently has about seven different species of owls including a great horned owl, a barred owl, and a baby screech owl. We take in all North American wildlife except raccoons because they carry a parasite which is fatal to eagles. We cannot take bats or skunks either because they carry rabies. We take in some animals for education and some for rehabilitation. We work with seven veterinarians.”

Over thirty children and their families attended the “Hoo” Haven visit at the library.

“Animals are always interesting to kids,” Nataly Garcia, of Ida, said. “We try to make our family programs easy enough for the younger children and interesting enough for the older ones. Every month we have a different theme.”

The Ida Public Library schedule can be found online at

Find out more about “Hoo” Haven at


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