A gift from above: Happinest rehabs raptors, songbirds and small mammals

Happinest co-founder Alix Parks with Lovely the Owl
photo Parks helps rehabilitate Electra, a young red-tailed hawk suffering from spinal trauma.

Alix Parks had been hiking on Signal Mountain when her destiny fell from the sky and landed at her feet: a disoriented baby grackle, sticky with blood after being dropped by a red-tailed hawk passing overhead. As a child, Parks had often cared for orphaned squirrels or opossums, but she had no experience with birds.

Still she brought the fledgling home. She spent the spring season nursing it back to health. The grackle became her companion. When Parks took hikes, the bird followed along in the treetops above her. At night, it slept on a perch in her kitchen. One day, Parks noticed another grackle landing on a nearby tree and peering through her window.