Bless and Release

Rebecca Lessard shares her journey from her first encounter with a red-tailed hawk, to establishing first a small raptor rehabilitation project, then seeing it “hatch” as a federally licensed nonprofit organization. As her mission grew and expanded, she developed the mantra, “bless and release.” First applicable to a rehabilitated raptor taking flight, this mantra also applies to the twists and turns in life.

Rebecca Lessard is an internationally respected expert in the field of raptor rehabilitation and education. She has a B.S. in Biology from Bemidji State University (Minnesota). In 1988 she and her husband Don moved to northern Michigan. A few years later she had her first interaction with an injured Red Tailed Hawk and it was this ‘raptorian’ experience that forever changed her life direction.

Rebecca and Don earned the required permits and set up a small raptor rehabilitation program in their back yard; it grew, and in 2001 Wings of Wonder was officially “hatched” as a federally-recognized nonprofit organization (
Wings of Wonder now admits over 80 sick, injured and orphaned raptors each year for rehabilitation.

Rebecca, and her 11 non-releasable raptors, presents over 150 educational programs annually, introducing 10,000 people each year to the wonders of raptors. Rebecca is fully aware that her life is ruled by a raptor that weighs less than a stick of butter.