Friday, August 17, 2012

Wildness Defined

This beautiful red-tailed hawk is currently receiving care at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. She was found sitting in a road, not flying away when approached; we suspect she was struck by a car. 

Upon examination, we found no fractures or open wounds on the bird, but we did find she was suffering from head trauma and had severe damage to her left eye. While the bird is recovering from the head trauma, her eye has been permanently damaged in the accident, leaving her blind in that eye. Watch a video of this hawk.

Intern Calah Beckwith tube-feeds the bird a nutritious slurry, while intern Sarah Sanderson holds the bird, using welding gloves to protect herself from the raptor's talons.
The video shows the hawk receiving a liquid diet via a tube, but she is now eating solid food (yes, mice) and is stronger than ever. Red-tailed hawks are incredibly powerful, with super-strong talons, muscular wings and thighs, and sharp beaks that are quick to bite. We have to use extra care when handling this mighty lady. 


The hawk strikes a defensive pose by raising her wing.
With the blindness, it is unlikely this hawk will return to the wild. Hawks need both eyes to hunt, and without an ability to hunt, the hawk could starve to death in the wild. If we do deem her non-releasable, we will try to find her a permanent home in a nature center.

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