Baby Red-Tail Recovery

By Jennifer Taylor, Animal Care Coordinator

In late July, we received a call about a fledgling Red-Tailed Hawk located in South Yarmouth. It was observed alone, and apparently was not being cared for by its parents.  Our staff member, Jayne Fowler, was available to check out the situation.   She found the bird to be weak and compromised, so she brought it in.  It was very young, still with pin feathers growing in like porcupine quills.

There was a wound on its wrist that was full of fly eggs and maggots.  We immediately flushed the area of the parasites and treated the wound.  The wrist was very swollen.  Kate Diggs, Wild Care Wildlife Rehabilitator, x-rayed the bird and found a radius fracture near the wrist and a greenstick fracture in the leg.  DVM Louise Morgan examined the hawk and advised a Robert Jones bandage for the leg, physical therapy for the wrist (after some rest), and a course of anti-inflammatory drugs.

The little hawk was a good patient. It left its bandages alone, began eating very quickly after intake and did not bang around in its clinic habitat.  Because of the healing time, the hawk fledgling grew into a juvenile right before our eyes.  If this were an orphan that only required a week to recover, we could have sent it up to Norman Smith at the Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton to find an appropriate nest of foster parents, but all the Red-tails would have left their nests by the time our hawk was ready to fly…

We conditioned it in our large aviary after the splint was off and physical therapy complete.  Thanks to the care our staff took in avoiding any non-essential interactions with the bird, it was not habituated to us and still had fear when we approached.  It was flying well and had recovered after five weeks.

Norman Smith’s advice was to release it at its original rescue site.

Jayne returned it to its territory. What a great day. We always cross our fingers.

Photos by Kerry Reid

Above Photo by Jayne Fowler

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Wild Care has a state-of-the-art seabird therapy pool, which allows seabirds and waterfowl to exercise on running water. This will help our bird friends recover more quickly so they can get back to their watery habitats!