We are a regional center for care & rehabilitation of wildlife in need.

Birds in Flight Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving northeast Ohio. Founded in 1991 by Heather Merritt to rescue and rehabilitate raptors, the sanctuary has expanded to treat all wildlife, in the air, on the ground and on the water. We are currently caring for more than 1,000 birds and wild animals. 


The first time Heather Merritt put her healing hands on a bird, it was with a great deal of care and much fear.

A great horned owl was down in a neighbors yard. The bird was very thin and very ill. With her heart and lots of research, Heather gave this lucky bird a second chance at life and flying free. That was in March of 1991 and marked the beginning of what has become her life’s work.

After many hours and months of training and hands-on experience, she received her license to rehabilitate wildlife, specializing in raptors, or birds of prey. However, she rescues and rehabs all wild animals, from the tiniest hummingbird fallen from its nest, to a bald eagle poisoned by a poacher’s lead shot. At any given time, she may be working with more than 70 birds, providing food and medical treatment.

Her qualifications require her to maintain state and federal licenses with fees due annually. She receives some help for food while the birds are in her care, and thanks to the help from a local veterinarian very little is needed for veterinary services.  All other costs are paid for by donations and Heather herself.


Birds in Flight Sanctuary is establishing a large facility in Canfield, Ohio to provide care for hundreds of animals, and create an education center for local children and adults.

The facility will include an onsite hospital, intake and quarantine areas, and six 50-foot flight pens. Construction is almost complete and we have already`begun moving our more than 400 birds and other wild animals into the new facility. 

With over 80 acres of woods, creeks and meadows, the property is ideal for the release of wildlife right here at the sanctuary.  

Thank you to all those who made the purchase, construction and operation of our new facility possible.

  • The Cafaro Foundation for a $100,000 start to this journey.
  • Gretchan Peigowski Francis for a place our animals can rest and recover.
  • An unnamed individual for helping to keep our dream and legacy alive.   

And thank you to all involved in our fundraisers over the years.        


We offer veterinary internships and graduate study programs to students at regional colleges and universities, and provide volunteer opportunities to students at area high schools in a variety of specialties, including  agriculture, forestry, animal care, scouting and more.

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