January 5, 2010
Hawk Rattles Cage and Flies Free
Injured raptor is rehabbed and released by wildlife center
Due to the size, staff concluded the bird was a female. She evidently had been struck by a car, severely damaging her right eye and causing a deep gash down to the bone in the right jaw.
Because a one-eyed diurnal raptor – or a bird who hunts during the day -- can't survive for long, the bird’s life hung in the balance for several days. But she was a trooper. Her jaw wound healed beautifully and her eye progressed well. After two weeks she had recovered almost fully.
Dr. Roberto Aguilar, the Cape Wildlife Center’s veterinarian, described the three-year-old hawk’s recovery as incredible. As the release time neared, she weighed approximately four pounds and was, as Dr. Aguilar says, “aggressive and in great shape.”
At three weeks, the bird was in excellent physical condition and raring to go. On December 19 at the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, the impatient bird was jumping around in the safety of an enclosed transportation kennel in anticipation of her release. A local 10-year-old boy was on hand to open the cage door, and with more than 30 people quietly looking on, the bird took a couple of steps and then away she flew to the tallest tree around, where she sat until getting her bearings before leaving for her home territory about an hour later.
Her release was made at the end of a short program at the sanctuary, during which Ian Ives, the sanctuary director, gave a talk about diurnal raptors of the Cape and their ecology and Dr. Aguilar spoke about the history of the hawk. The release marked the first of many joint programs between Cape Wildlife Center and Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in the hopes of extending wildlife education and appreciation to the Cape’s community.
The Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Mass., is operated in partnership with The Fund for Animals and The Humane Society of the United States to promote and protect the health and well-being of native wildlife and their habitats. Since 2000, the center has been open 365 days a year, providing emergency care and wildlife rehabilitation.