Vermont Bird Unable to Fly Turned to Painting in Its Free Time

Written by Megan Martin
Updated: October 25, 2023
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After losing its ability to return to the wild, one bird unable to fly has developed a new skill: art.

Ferrisburgh is a male American kestrel named for the Vermont town where he was found. Currently, he resides 90 miles south in Quechee. Here, he lives at a sanctuary designed to house raptors no longer able to return to the wild. Other enrichment is necessary to help Ferrisburgh live a healthy life without the ability to fly. And, as it turns out, he just so happens to excel in art!

As an ambassador bird at the Vermont Institute for Natural Science, Ferrisburgh helps educate people on raptors. He recently led a painting class for humans. During this class, he chased after offered mealworms across canvases, and his talons dipped into paint. The results are several tiny canvases dotted with artwork created by Ferrisburgh.

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Think You Can?

A bird unable to fly, Ferrisburgh thinks he is a human. This is because he was captured and brought into captivity as a baby. Thus, he never learned exactly what it means to be a bird. Without his parents or the wild to teach him, he never learned to hunt. His inability to fly comes from a broken bone suspected to have occurred because of a lack of a high-quality diet like he would have hunted in the wild.

Because of such situations, it is important never to bother a young bird you find in the wild. If you believe they are injured or are young and have been abandoned by their parents, you should instead reach out to your local wildlife resources. They can properly assess the situation and decide if the bird needs help.

Species Profile: American Kestrel

The American kestrel (Falco sparverius) is also known as the sparrow hawk. Like many other birds of prey, males of this species are smaller than females, and they are the smallest falcons in North America. However, they can also be found in South America, where other species of raptors are smaller. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats across the Western Hemisphere, ranging from suburban areas to rural grasslands. They are a year-round species in much of the regions where they live. However, those individuals living in the northernmost extent of their range may prefer to winter further south.

American Kestrel Male Facing Left Landscape View

American kestrels are the smallest falcon in North America.


The photo featured at the top of this post is © Albert Beukhof/

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About the Author

Megan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is birds, felines, and sharks. She has been researching and writing about animals for four years, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University, which she earned in 2022. A resident of North Carolina, Megan is an avid birdwatcher that enjoys spending time with her cats and exploring local zoological parks with her husband.

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