The mission of the rehabilitation section is to rehabilitate injured, ill, or orphaned birds of prey. Annually the Southeastern Raptor Center takes in between 200 and 275 birds of prey from across the Southeast. Birds are generally brought by members of the public, a network of Southeastern rehabilitators and educational facilities, and state and federal agencies.
Initially a bird is taken to the Auburn University Small Animal Teaching Hospital where the medical staff performs a physical exam and assesses stability. If stable, further diagnostics are performed including a complete blood count, radiographs (x-rays), and a fecal exam to check for intestinal parasites. Sometimes birds require further diagnostics such as a CAT scan, a consult with the ophthalmologist, or surgery. When raptors arrive in the evening or on the weekends, they are examined by the on-call raptor team which consists of veterinary students who are interested in avian medicine and who have experience with raptors.
Once patients have finished the course of treatment, they are placed in flight aviaries. Sometimes it takes several months to be ready for release back into the wild. During this time, one or more flight evaluations are performed to determine if the bird can be released. If the birds are non-releasable, the Raptor Center tries to place them in permitted educational facilities, if feasible.