Sanctuary for endangered birds with special needs with species from 6 continents

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By Bob Mahosky and Karen Wynne

FLETCHER, NC (WLOS) — Some of the most beautiful, exotic and endangered birds coexist in a sanctuary in the mountains.

Leeann Shearouse’s property in Fletcher is home to many stunningly beautiful birds.

“We have birds here from every continent except Antarctica,” Shearouse said.

Shearouse founded Carolina Avian Research & Education, CARE for short, nine years ago to provide a sanctuary for endangered birds with special needs.

“Birds from different continents will make really good friends with other birds from different continents, and they have so much fun here,” Shearouse said.

Shearouse became interested in birds as a young child in Palm Beach, Florida.

“Sitting on a log and watching the wildlife and the birds and just watching them and seeing how they behave,” Shearouse recalled of her childhood.

Shearouse says many birds have overcome physical challenges – like Jack.

“Jack is a Harris hawk. He was 21 when he lost his eye,” she said.

“He’s been able to adapt, and that’s a great thing to adapt to. He always goes out and hunts with me. I’m his assistant when we’re out hunting,” Shearouse said.

Then there’s Hooper. Shearouse says he is the smallest falcon in the United States, at just nine inches tall.

Another aspect of the sanctuary is public education, as Shearouse offers classes on birds and gardening. CARE is open to the public.

Some of the biggest lessons, however, can come from the birds themselves, she said.

“They get along well with other birds and they show diversity, which is what I try to teach people,” she said.

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