The person on call with our Raptor Emergency phone line receives a call from Hudson, Colorado. They say that there is a Red Tailed Hawk on the ground that cannot seem to fly. The person that takes the call asks for a picture of the bird, and gets back an image of an adult Red Tailed Hawk that has its mouth open in stress and is standing on the ground. The bird does not fly away as the person calling approaches it cautiously to take the picture.
As an intern, I am doing chores around the center after morning treatments. The on-call person checks a map (where *IS* Hudson Colorado?), and asks me to make the one hour drive from Fort Collins to catch the bird and bring it back to the center. As my first bird rescue, I am both excited and nervous at the same time as I drive there.
During the drive, I reflect on how exciting and interesting my internship has been at the RMRP. I not only get to see broken birds come in, but for the ones that survive the first 72 hours, I get to see them get stronger until they are able to be released into the wild again.
Once I arrive at the location, I talk to the people that called. The bird is on their property, and I ask them to fill out a form that will give us a little more information about the situation. As I move in to catch the hawk, it tries to back away, and then goes on its back to bear its talons in a weak characteristic defensive posture. I catch the bird quickly and gently release it into the pet carrier I have brought along. Immediately, the Red Tail lies on its side in the carrier, and closes its eyes. I thank the good Samaritans and carefully drive back to the center, bird in tow.
Another intern is at the center, waiting to help me admit and examine the bird. Upon admitting the bird, it is protocol to administer fluids, needed medications, and assess the bird’s condition. We have to efficiently figure out what brings this bird in to us… Is it a wing fracture? West Nile Virus? Is the bird a baby? In this Red Tailed Hawk’s case, it is extremely emaciated, and is holding its wings in a weird position, but no significant fractures are found. Once the bird is released in a small enclosure in the Critical Care Room, it lays down and closes its eyes again.
If the people in Hudson had not seen this bird and reported it to us, it would not be possible for the bird to be rescued. Being on the ground, it would have become prey for another animal or starved to death. Upon being admitted to RMRP, this bird will start on the path toward healing.
If you see a raptor in trouble, call our Raptor Emergency phone at 970-222-0322.