Red-tailed Hawk Releases

This winter the Wildlife Center has admitted many Red-tailed Hawks from across Virginia.   After weeks/months of treatment and care, many of these hawks are being  cleared for release by the Center veterinary staff.  Hawks in this "Red-tailed Round-up" include:

#10-2242:  Red-tailed Hawk #10-2242 was admitted to the Center on December 3.  Rescuers in Louisa County, Virginia, found this hawk in their yard, unable to fly.  Once admitted, the veterinarians determined that the hawk had been shot; it had two fractured bones in its right wing and a lead pellet lodged in its thoracic cavity.  Because the lead pellet was slowly leaching into the bird's blood, Center vets started treating the hawk for lead poisoning and took the bird into surgery to remove the pellet.  The wing was stabilized and wrapped for about a month and half.  In mid-January, the hawk was moved to one of the Center's outdoor flight pens and began a rigorous regimen of physical therapy and exercise. It was released back in Louisa County on February 25.  Days in treatment: 84

#10-2271:  This hawk was found in Richmond, then was taken to permitted rehabilitator Deb Pupa before it was admitted to the Wildlife Center on December 18.  The bird had a fracture in its left wing; Center vets performed surgery to pin the fracture.  In early January, the pin was pulled; with successfully healing of the fracture, the bird was moved outside in mid-January.  Rehabilitator Deb Pupa released this Red-tailed Hawk on February 25.  Days in treatment:  69 #10-2291:  On December 26, this Red-tailed Hawk was found on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, unable to fly.  Once admitted, staff veterinarians found a fracture in the bird's right wing.  This fracture was bandaged and the bird was cage-rested for several weeks.  In mid-January, the bird began physical therapy to slowly stretch the injured wing.  This hawk then spent several weeks in an outdoor pen, where it was exercised and flight-tested.    After several weeks of flying well, the hawk was released on March 1.  Red-tailed Hawk #10-2291's rescuers were able to pick the bird up for release back on their property and reported:  "'Flopper' the hawk is now safely back in the woods.  He was a bit reluctant to leave the cardboard box, maybe because having been in the dark for 45 minutes the sun was blinding him, but he eventually took off, tested his wings in a few different trees including one in our back yard, and the last we saw of him, he was heading towards the local creek for a well earned drink.  He seemed to be flying well so let's hope he'll have a long and happy life back there where he grew up."   Days of treatment:  65

#11-0033:  This hawk was admitted on January 19 from Rockingham County.  Upon admission, the hawk's wing and chest were swollen, and the bird was treated with anti-inflammatories and cage rest.  Within a couple of weeks the Red-tailed Hawk was moved outside and began its flight conditioning.  After several weeks of continued exercise, the hawk was "cleared for release" on March 5.  Center volunteer and apprentice rehabilitators Don and Barb Plants released this bird back in the same area the following day.   Days of treatment: 48

#11-0067:  admitted to the Wildlife Center on February 5 from Dayton, Virginia.  Rescuers found the Red-tailed Hawk in their yard, not standing and unable to fly.  Suspecting both head and spinal trauma, Wildlife Center vets started the bird on anti-inflammatories and housed the bird in the Center's critical care chamber.  After the bird stabilized and began standing within a few days, radiographs were taken.  No fractures were visualized, but the vets did find some surprising results -- a pellet was lodged in the bird's skull.  Fortunately, this did not seem to be affecting the bird in any way as it quickly began standing and perching. On February 14, the hawk was moved outside into a flight pen.  After two weeks of exercise, the hawk was scheduled for evaluation for release.  This hawk was released at John Wayland Elementary School on March 11.  Days of treatment:  35 These hawks have been part of the Wildlife Center's "lactate study," an ongoing fitness analysis that studies the methods of exercising raptors. Once raptors have recovered from their injuries, birds undergoing rehabilitation are exercised to improve individual fitness, which increases their chances of survival after release.  Two common methods of exercising birds used by rehabilitators are [1] cage exercising and [2] creancing (a falconry technique that uses a long monofilament, heavy fishing line that allows a bird to be tethered during flight).  The main objective of this study is to compare these two flight training techniques on Red-tailed Hawks to determine the better method of achieving optimal fitness. In this case, fitness is measured by monitoring blood lactate levels before and after exercise.  Because lactic acid levels get higher when individuals strenuously exercise, Center veterinarians can  assess how physically fit these hawks are by monitoring the lactic-acid levels in the blood before and after exercise.   The Wildlife Center hopes that the results of this study will help guide raptor rehabilitators to use the most appropriate flight training methods when rehabilitating this common raptor species.   Two other Red-tailed Hawks remain at the Wildlife Center; these birds are still undergoing treatment, though the staff is hopeful that they too will be ready for release within the next month.  These birds include:

#10-2246:  found on the ground in Harrisonburg on December 6.  This hawk had a broken wing, which was surgically repaired.  The bird is now in an outdoor flight pen.  Update:  4/11/11:  This Red-tailed Hawk was released on 4/9/11.    Days of treatment: 125

#11-0023:  found with a fractured beak on January 14 in Albemarle County.  Veterinarians performed complicated surgery to wire this Red-tailed Hawk's lower beak back into place.  It is currently eating well and will continue to be monitored throughout March.  Days of treatment: 54+ The Center depends on the donations of caring individuals to provide veterinary care to wildlife and training in wildlife veterinary medicine.  Please help!