The Brighter Side of a Hawk Rescue
By Jennifer Taylor, Animal Care Coordinator
Things aren’t always as bad as they seem. This summer after a call about a downed hawk at a campground in Eastham I was reminded of this…
The report was that a Red-tailed Hawk was on the ground and could not fly. It would run away when people approached, and there was a hawk seen circling above it.
One of our summer Interns, Bekka Evans and I, drove there to attempt to capture the bird. The hawk was being monitored by a campground employee until we arrived. Everyone was so helpful and concerned. We were met by the woman who called us about the bird, at the check-in desk. Then we followed another woman in a golf cart to the bird’s exact location. (Often we go to rescue an animal, only to never find it!)
The bird was a juvenile and it was covered with flies. Flies mean wounds. I immediately thought of past patients in similar situations who were so badly injured they could not survive. Gruesome pictures flashed through my head. I dreaded the whole rescue at that point “knowing” the outcome was probably bad. But, there stood the Intern who was young and excited and finally out in the field, faced with an impressive bird that we were going to save. Thank goodness for youth! My adrenalin rushed in and we set out to wrangle the hawk.
It was extremely difficult to catch, running like a champion, diving through brambles with lightning speed (compared to our plodding) and perching upon branches deep within the thickets. The three of us tried surrounding it several times. Many attempts were made to leap and grab from knee-height, only to be left behind by the crafty bird. Eventually we managed to nab it and bring it back to Wild Care.
When we examined the bird we were so thrilled to find there was NO WOUND! All of the blood was from a broken feather. Feathers are full of blood when they are first forming. The bird had damaged a feather and the blood saturated the other feathers on the wing and had dried, gluing the feathers together and rendering the bird flightless and vulnerable.
We washed and rinsed the wing over the course of several days. Although this was quite stressful, the young hawk was a good patient and ate well on its own.
Bekka was very happy to release the bird back to its family at the campground one week later.
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