Bird Ambassadors of Mill Grove

Our regal and beautiful birds each suffer from a permanent impairment that makes them unable to survive in the wild, where even a seemingly small injury spells the difference between predatory dominance and certain death. The majority of our birds have been rehabbed after suffering an injury, while others were raised illegally in captivity, preventing them from learning how to find food, navigate, and have a natural fear of people. All of these birds have found their final home at JJAC, where they are provided enriching environments and diets that meet all of their needs.

As avian ambassadors, these non-releasable wild birds have been trained to help educate people about their natural history and issues facing birds today. They visit schools, scouts, businesses, fairs and festivals, conferences, and many other special events. Up close experience with our birds can inspire youth and adults alike to take further actions in conservation and citizen science.


This special Blue Jay found his way to Mill Grove from the Tri-State Area Rescue, and he is by far our most dapper and distinguished bird. As a young chick, he was taken from his nest and illegally raised in captivity, meaning he never learned the bird behaviors necessary for survival in the wild (such as foraging, avoiding predators, a healthy fear of humans, etc.). He is retired from public events, but because of his history with human care-givers, Conrad absolutely loves socializing with visitors from his enclosure.  He is always dressed to impress in his sharp blue tux and polished beak - just watch out for his side-chatter sass!


Our loving Great Horned Owl, Oden was raised in captivity by a falconer and has imprinted on humans. Unafraid of people and lacking the skills necessary to hunt for himself, he is unable to be released inthe wild. As a part of a wildlife rehabilitation program at another sanctuary, Oden served as a surrogate parent to a clutch of rescued orphan owlets. After arriving at Mill Grove in 2011, he began his work as an educational ambassador, enjoying a diet of about six mice every evening, in addition to the admiration of the masses. Willful and proud, Oden is also the most talkative of all of our bird ambassadors.


Oscar is the sweetest of all our Eastern Screech-owls. He came to Mill Grove after being struck by a car and becoming blind in one eye, which prevents him from being released into the wild. Oscar is retired from programming but can sometimes be seen in his enclosure snuggled up with his companion, Abby. He is the only of our three screech owls who is the gray phase of the species, making him look like he has been dusted with a fine sketching pencil and helping him camouflage with tree bark.


Abby is a red-phase Eastern-screech owl who suffered an accident in the wild that led her to become blind in one eye. This injury prevents her from being able to live in the wild, but it doesn’t slow her down! Abby is a speedy flyer and is extremely active in the late afternoon, much the opposite of her companion, Oscar. Abby is still learning how to be a bird ambassador and doesn’t like to make long appearances at busy events. However, she does enjoy meet and greets and smaller programs! Abby is a crowd favorite for her sweet demeanor and beautiful plumage.


The most mysterious and wise of our mottled flock, Sherlock is our resident Barred Owl. A tragedy too common among our winged friends, Sherlock was struck by a car and suffered a broken wing that didn't heal quite properly, even with rehab. Though he can fly short distances, he is unable to fly with the proficiency needed to be successful in the wild. Sherlock spends most of his time perching quietly and observing everyone's behavior with his unwavering stare. His night black eyes and gray-scale feathers give him a hauntingly handsome appearance. But don’t be fooled by his appearance, behind that haunting gaze is a loving ball of fluff! Due to his age, Sherlock has retired from programming. However, he makes the occasional visit to small groups when he has the energy, which he seems to really enjoy.


The newest addition to our flock, Mortimer is a red-phase Eastern-screech owl who joined us in 2023 from the Center for Aquatic Sciences in New Jersey. Mortimer also suffers blindness in one eye, which impacts his ability to navigate safely. For this reason, it’s more often that we find him walking on his perching, rather than flying to and from. Mortimer is very shy and is still getting accustomed to his new life at JJAC. We hope that he will join our programs soon!


Arriving at Mill Grove in 2017, Hopper was previously cared for at the Great Valley Nature Center after being hit by a car and suffering a broken wing. Though she survived her injuries, her left wing never fully healed, rendering her completely unable to fly. Brimming with a constant and restless energy, Hopper instead springs and flutters from perch to perch, hence her name. Watchful and remarkably talkative, especially when anticipating breakfast, she now assists educators here at Mill Grove. As a migratory species, Hopper moves indoors for much of the winter to stay warm. However, during the warmer months Hopper can be seen sitting on her favorite corner perch, chirping away in the sunshine.


CC is a Rock Dove who joined our flock from the Center for Aquatic Sciences in New Jersey where she hatched. Having hatched during the outbreak of Avian Influenza, CC was raised exclusively indoors in close contact with her caregivers. In May of 2023, she had her first steps outdoors at Mill Grove. CC is fun loving bird who enjoys landing on her caretakers’ heads and shoulders while they clean her enclosure. She is also a big fan of sink baths, or though we have given her a small pool in her enclosure so that she can bathe whenever she wants. She is new to programs but as she was raised by people, she is keen to get out and meet our visitors!

Our Bird Ambassador Program is an important part of our education programming and plays a critical role in building empathy for birds and inspiring conservation action to protect them. Your gift will help us continue to provide nutritious diets, routine vet care, and plenty of enrichment to ensure the mental and physical well-being of our Bird Ambassadors, while also supporting the Center as a community space for birds and people. Click here to give today and support our wonderful bird ambassadors and other exciting programming at the John James Audubon Center!