Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hawk homecoming

In mid-June, neighbors spotted and eventually helped corral a wounded female red-tailed hawk. Luckily, neighbor Kathryn Dudek is the Wildlife Director at the Chattahoochee Nature Center and was able to transport the hawk to the wildlife center for evaluation and rehabilitation. Today, some 70 days later, lady hawk came home.
Last june: all patched up. Photo via the Chattahoochee 
Nature Center's Facebook page
Last june: wing wound. Photo via the 
Chattahoochee Nature Center's Facebook page

The hawk was released at Medlock Park to the delight of a large group of neighborhood well-wishers. And what a show it was: the hawk launched without hesitation and with strong wingbeats took herself to a high perch on a pine tree. On the ground, the crowd cheered. Kathryn watched and waited for the bird to stick the landing and then she too was off the ground, jumping for joy.

Magic trick: Months ago, in went a wounded hawk...  
This particular hawk had a "fracture to its right radius and ulna, as well as punctures to the right thigh" likely from a dog or squirrel bite, and there were also maggots in the wound. Once the wounds healed and the bandages were removed, the bird received physical therapy to recover full range of motion.

Kathryn shared some additional tidbits. The hawk now sports a namesake red tail which means she is a mature two-year-old. A hawk like this has a grip strength of around 250 pounds per square inch (for comparison, a man's grip is in the 100 psi range). Kathryn said she could feel the squeeze and a talon did pierce the kevlar gloves she was wearing for protection, leaving a tiny pin prick.  Because lady hawk was gone for a while, we may hear some arguments overhead as she reclaims her home turf from other resident hawks.

And today, out came this beauty!
Rodents despair: big mama's home. 
Our thanks to Kathryn for her education and rescue efforts in the neighborhood and beyond, and for bringing this hawk home. The Chattahoochee Nature Center is a community-supported non-profit organization that focuses on educating about the natural environment with an emphasis on the wildlife communities that make a home along the Chattahoochee River. Visit the Center's Wildlife Rehabilitation Facebook Page for many examples of critters that have been hurt but are now on their way to recovery thanks to wildlife rehabilitators. To make a donation earmarked towards wildlife rehab, click here.