During the last week of January, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center received a few calls about a hawk struggling in the wooded community of Fieldbrook, east of McKinleyville. After a few trips to the area, we finally located the grounded bird, an adult Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), unable to fly.
Emaciated, weak, and with an injured right eye, we began the slow process of recovery with fluids, warmth, nutrition and a safe place to rest. Emaciation is a relatively simple condition to treat. The hawk’s eye however was of greater concern. Although the bird seemed able to see, even with the injury, good eyesight is a necessity for release.
Once the hawk was well enough to be housed outdoors in our specially built raptor aviary (the Merry Maloney Raptor House), we introduced live prey in the form of purchased “feeder” rodents. None of us enjoy putting these animals directly in the path of a hawk, but to release this bird we needed to know that he could hunt.
Soon the hawk was flying with ease and grace, navigating the confines of the aviary and clearly responding to stimuli with his injured but healing eye.
Also the hawk was clearly able to hunt. With a break in the rain, we returned him to his haunts, his habits and his wild freedom.
Thinking outside the box, outside the box, must get outside the box!
Healthy and ready to rock!
One more step!
And up and away!
Upper left corner is where you’ll find him…
Circling back and then gone… free again!
This Red-tailed hawk’s second chance relied on many factors: caring people who called to let us know he was there, volunteers ready and able to go look for him, a team of caregivers with the necessary resources to help him heal, and most importantly, you. Without your support, those caring people would’ve had no one to call. This hawk is in the Redwoods of Humboldt County, hunting, flying, dreaming, preparing for another year, another chance to raise more young, another day to be alive, free and wild. Your support is how and why. Thank you!
All photos: Bird Ally X