Ornithological reserve moves to the Canfield farm | News, Sports, Jobs


CANFIELD – Members of the Birds of Flight Sanctuary visited Canfield Township administrators at their meeting on Tuesday.

Led by Heather Merritt, the group spoke of plans to move the shrine from its current home in Howland to a farm in the township.

Merritt said the non-profit wildlife rescue organization had outgrown its site in Howland and was able to purchase the 80-acre Zarlenga farm located half a mile south of the Canfield fairgrounds.

“Last year we treated over 5,000 animals and birds,” she told administrators. “The majority of the birds come from the public.”

According to its website, Birds in Flight currently cares for thousands of birds and other wildlife in a crowded rental home on a one-acre lot in a residential section of Howland Township.

The Zarlenga Farm barn should be ready for animals and birds by the end of March, Merritt said. In mid-July, Merritt said she hoped to be able to open to the public, except for wild birds which are not allowed on public display.

Merritt said people come across a bird of prey that may have been hit by a car or otherwise injured and she gets the call.

Birds of Flight Sanctuary was founded in 1991. Today it holds two licenses, Merritt said. One goes through the Ohio Division of Wildlife and covers animal rescues, including fawns.

The other license is issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Agency and covers birds. Merritt said birds of prey must have shelter where they are kept away from the public. Birds being cared for release into the wild should have minimal human contact.

Organization builder Brad Gibson showed administrators plans to expand the existing barn to handle more birds and animals on the road. Gibson said the expansion would be done in phases depending on donations.

“We will be renovating the existing barn as part of Phase I,” Gibson said. “We will also construct several 24-foot octagonal enclosures to serve as public education areas.”

Merritt said birds injured to the point that they could not live in the wild are allowed to be used for public education. That’s what octagonal pens would be for.

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