VINS Says Goodbye to a Friend

Fourteen years ago, an American kestrel was born, beginning her journey into the public eye as an ambassador to her species through VINS’ educational programs. On November 4, this elderly bird took her last breath and passed away, leaving behind the great accomplishment of connecting people from all walks of life to the wonderment of nature.

A charming little falcon, this kestrel served in numerous VINS’ education programs throughout New England. Due to her gentle (though occasionally feisty) nature and small stature, she was the first bird that staff and volunteers trained with when learning how to handle VINS’ education raptors.

Born in the summer of 1995, this kestrel was taken illegally out of the wild as a baby and raised by humans, leaving her imprinted. Once imprinted, a bird cannot return to the wild as it will not know how to survive on its own. In June that year, she made her way into VINS’ care where she spent the rest of her life meeting everyone from young children at school programs to elderly citizens at nursing homes.

VINS Nature Center Programs Manager Chris Collier reflects on the kestrel’s life.

“My memories go back to when she was a flight program bird,” Collier said. “We’d take her on the road along with a barn owl — also flighted — and a hawk. We’d display the hawk on glove and then would fly her and the barn owl. She was not always a consistent flyer, being upset by big scary robins and the like, but many ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ were pronounced when she came out of the crate.”

And she was quite the adventurous soul. In September 1999, the kestrel flew away during an educational program, only to be found two weeks later in the neighboring town of Woodstock! Luckily, she returned to us in good health.

“Overall, I think about the vast numbers of people that interacted with her,” said Collier, “either by being an audience member or being one of the many staff and volunteers that worked with her. She had a big attitude at times for such a diminutive creature, which — just like the attitude of a red squirrel — made me like her even more. It would be a very difficult calculation, but thousands of people learned about raptors and falcons though her.”

Please join us at the VINS Nature Center, in Quechee Vermont on November 28 at 12:30 p.m. to pay tribute to this lovely and important bird. To support the work of VINS and the care of our rehabilitation patients and education birds, please visit our website at

Leave a Comment