Good Mews for Bird Lovers

An owl flies to Rob Hults at the Irish Raptor Research Centre during the time he was on staff there in 2008-09. Today he is executive director of the Open Door Bird Sanctuary in Jacksonport.

The founders of the Open Door Bird Sanctuary can use a hand. They’re asking for volunteers to help build two mews – outdoor enclosures for feathered friends – on Oct. 10-13 at the 34½-acre sanctuary just off County I in Jacksonport.

“We’re inviting the public to come by and check out what we’re doing. If someone wants to volunteer, stop by,” said Jillaine Burton, co-founder with Executive Director Rob Hults of Open Door Bird Sanctuary. “If people come and construction is not their forte, we’ll be doing some basic land maintenance as well, so there are other things people can do. Or just come and check it out and go for a walk.”

The mews they will be building that long weekend can hold up to three birds of prey, or can be subdivided for smaller birds.

“With those structures, the next step is to get a couple of birds and then we can do some programming,” Burton said. “In an ideal world, we would get more birds right off the bat and start with the programming on site. With just a couple of birds, we can start working with schools and other organizations. For instance, we’ve been in contact with Learning in Retirement to do an educational class.”

Ultimately they want to have educational programming and a rehabilitation facility on site.

“There is a [rehab] void in Door County. Bay Beach [Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay] is the closest,” Burton said.

Their original plan was to have the facility open last spring, but they acknowledge they were overly optimistic about the undertaking.

“The big excitement for the summer was adding an entrance road and parking lot,” Burton said.

Both Burton and Hults are trained bird handlers.

“Rob went into it in a more professional way. He really found his dream in life. This really is his passion,” said Burton, who works for the Kohler Company in the Sheboygan area when not attending to the bird sanctuary business. “I really do believe in the message and enjoy doing the programming. It’s really amazing to see a bird of prey up close. What will make us special, we will be flying these birds.”

For more details on the Open Door Bird Sanctuary, visit the website at Or drop by between 9 am and 3 pm Oct. 10-13.