On a Wing and a Prayer

by Hope Douglas

Twenty-nine years ago when I founded Wind Over Wings, a newspaper article entitled “On a Wing and a Prayer” announced the birth of this nonprofit organization. Wind Over Wings and I are retiring together in 2018. The long flight of Wind Over Wings would not have been possible without wings, prayers, and you, people with compassion and commitment.

This is our last year of presenting environmental education programs with these magnificent birds. The fall will be spent obtaining approval by the federal government and state to transfer the birds to organization with whom I’ve worked and respected for years. The birds in our care have not only touched the hearts of the public but also nonprofit wildlife organizations who have stepped forward to provide their future home. While the birds are leaving us, they are going forward to continue their lives as ambassadors. They are strong, healthy and inquisitive. Many new generations of people will have the opportunity to share their lives. This sharing is a gift to both.

I would like to thank to our Board of Directors, volunteers, veterinarians, organizations who have given us these remarkable birds, donors, grantors, – couldn’t have been done without a wing and a prayer. I am left with the feeling I had when I started, a sense of wonder.

About Wind Over Wings


Photograph courtesy of The Audubon Society of Rhode Island

Wind Over Wings is a nonprofit, wildlife educational center featuring magnificent birds who are unable to survive in their natural environment. Our goal in education is to provide a personal connection with wildlife that will lead to responsible stewardship of the environment. Each bird is an individual and each has a story. Our Educational Programs are designed to be age-appropriate, humorous, and inspiring. The birds in our care have overcome extraordinary obstacles in their lives.

Wind Over Wings became incorporated as a nonprofit in 1990. With the approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection, our educational services flourished. In Connecticut, we provided approximately 330 environmental education programs annually, speaking with over 100,000 people, not including television audiences. We believe that when adults and children make a connection with wildlife, intentional cruelty will lessen.

Wind Over Wings has now permanently relocated to Maine with the guidance of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Maine Department of Inland Fish & Wildlife. We present the birds to schools, libraries, clubs, special events and family reunions. It’s up to your imagination.


The inspiration for the beginning of Wind Over Wings came from a blind Red-tailed Hawk from the Naples Nature Conservancy. Hope Douglas had been the Executive Director of Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut for ten years. She was in Florida visiting a teacher who was terminally ill. This teacher had given Hope a subscription to Defenders of Wildlife when Hope was 13 years old.

The hawk looked well-loved and stood only about 7′ away. A decision was made: the East Coast needed a bird sanctuary where people could experience the proximity of other magnificent birds such as this Red-tailed Hawk.

The name Wind Over Wings came while walking along the shore in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. As a pair of Mute Swans flew overhead with grace and strength, Hope commented to her former husband that the sound of wind over wings was powerful. And understanding aerodynamics, which explains how wind flowing over a bird’s wings causes lift and allows the bird to fly, Hope added, “The wind is an excellent communicator.”

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Make a difference in the lives of the birds in our care! Your tax-deductible donation supports the care and feeding of all the birds at Wind Over Wings. To learn more about each bird, please see BIRDS IN OUR CARE.