|Immature Red-Tailed Hawk|
First off, the weather. Did anyone else notice the snow and freezing temperatures this week? So much for our Indian summer. To battle the cold, the birds tucked their heads and feet into their feathers, which they fluffed out like the down parkas you Humans wear. The bird pictured to the right is not some freakish new species of headless Red-Tailed Hawk, but rather a normal immature Red-Tailed Hawk keeping warm.
With the cold weather we have officially entered small-owl season. After seeing hardly any little owls over the summer, we've received a few Eastern Screech Owls and Northern Saw-Whet Owls in the past two weeks. One of the Saw-Whet Owls was released last week, and flew off so fast there was no hope of snapping a picture. That's exactly what we like to see, so good for that little owl! He had been admitted after being hit by a truck going 60 mph on the highway, but suffered no broken bones and was released after just a couple weeks of care.
The other Saw-Whet Owl was admitted from Loveland, and is a window-strike victim. He is recovering from head trauma in the Critical Care room, and even though no fractures have been found, he's drooping one wing significantly. Sometimes this is a side-effect of head trauma/impact injuries, and could resolve on its own. On the other hand, the impact could have caused irreversible nerve damage. Despite his guarded prognosis, he's a little spitfire and is not shy about using his little talons to defend himself.
|Eastern Screech Owl|
The other little owl currently in Critical Care is an Eastern Screech Owl that also hit a window. He's getting stronger, is starting to use his legs and feet better, and his balance is improving. He's making slow and steady progress as his head trauma resolves, and whenever a Human looks in at him, he responds with his angry face.
The first-year Northern Goshawk with a fractured scapula is doing well. Can you guess how he was injured? Window-strike! His head trauma is resolving nicely, and he's eating voraciously to prove it. The bandage comes off in a couple of days, and then the Humans will assess how the bone healed, and the bird's ability to fly. For a picture of this bird, check out our Facebook page or subscribe to our Twitter feed.
|Red-Tailed Hawk with severe head trauma|
There are also two Red-Tailed Hawks in Critical Care right now. One of them just came in today, and I don't have much info. The other one was admitted from Greeley on the 25th. He was hit by a car, and the impact fractured his skull and dislocated his hock (a joint in his leg). While the skull fracture and resultant swelling around his right eye look horrible, he's feisty and eating well. He's non-visual in that swollen eye, and is unlikely to regain vision in it, but the RMRP still gives one-eyed birds a chance to attend live prey school: if the bird can hunt and kill like a pro, fly normally, and keep his feathers in good condition, there's no reason to not release him. The prognosis on this bird is guarded, but I'll keep you updated on his progress.
|Overwintering Swainson's Hawks|
As for the rest of the birds, the ones who have already made it out of critical care and are working towards release, they're all doing quite well. The RMRP is overwintering quite a few birds, notably seven Swainson's Hawks who missed the migration window this year, and a Mississippi Kite in the same holding-pattern. They're all doing well and have great chances of being released, but they need to sit tight until the spring to ensure they have the best chance of making it in the wild. The Red-Tailed Hawk that flew into a truck cab through the open driver's side window is doing well. The bruising on her wing has resolved, she's holding her wing normally and flying well. In addition to the Saw-Whet Owl released last week, an American Kestrel that had been trapped in someone's chimney was cleaned off and released last week as well.
|Great Horned Owl recovering in a Hospital Cage|
And then there's the Great Horned Owls. The one who came in so non-responsive in July that she was almost appeared dead is flying great these days, working on her landings, and relearning how to hunt live prey. She's come a long way! Another Great Horned Owl with similar head trauma symptoms has moved outside and is eating on her own. It's expected that her progress will be slow like the other one's. And a third Great Horned Owl that's non-visual in one eye is being soft-released this week, meaning the Humans will continue to provide food for him on an outdoor platform for as long as he needs it. But, given the way he's been annihilating rats in live-prey school, he's expected to do just fine in the wild. On a final note, the Humans have admitted 232 birds for the year. By comparison, last year's bird #232 was admitted in December.
Whew, that was a lot of updating! I should be better about doing it more regularly. As always, thank you so very much for all your support. If it weren't for your financial help, the Humans at the RMRP wouldn't be able to help these birds get back out to the wild. Also, I have a favor to ask. I can't help but notice the number of window-strike birds coming in recently, so if you have any tips or advice for how to prevent birds from hitting windows, please share them below in the comments!