Red-tailed Hawk #19-2663

Admission Date: 
August 23, 2019
Location of Rescue: 
Bedford County, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Wing fractures
Prognosis: 
Fair
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

On August 22, an immature Red-tailed Hawk was found down in a field in Bedford County, Virginia. The property owner, who works at Peak View Animal Hospital, took the hawk to her clinic for stabilization before the young bird was transferred to the Wildlife Center the following day.

The veterinary team found that the hawk had a fracture of its right ulna, as well as a fracture of the right radius. The bird had signs of internal trauma and was also very thin and anemic. The veterinarians were able to surgically repair the fractures, and the bird spent the next several weeks healing.

Unfortunately, as the hawk’s fractures healed, the healing radius and ulna began to fuse together; this process is called synostosis. The team knew that the hawk was at a higher risk of this fusion due to the location of the fractures on the adjacent bones. In October, the hawk had a second surgery to remove the callous growing over the healing bones.

In the weeks following, the hawk went through a rigorous physical therapy regiment to help correct the poor range of motion and rotation on the injured wing. By November, the hawk was moved to an outdoor C-pen; a week later, the hawk was ready to begin flying in a larger flight pen after its prolonged hospitalization.

The rehabilitation team has been regularly creancing the young Red-tailed Hawk. Creancing is a falconry technique that uses a long braided nylon line that allows a bird to be tethered during flight in a large open space. Creancing allows for more maneuvering and better assessment of some raptors; it’s regularly used for recovering falcon patients, and can be helpful for other individuals based on attitude and injury.

So far, creancing is going well; the rehabilitation staff watch carefully to evaluate the hawk’s lift, wing movement, and landings. The hawk is currently living in flight pen A2 – on Critter Cam! – and is exercised in the enclosure on days when it isn’t being creanced off-site.

Your donation will help provide special veterinary and rehabilitative care to this recovering young Red-tailed Hawk, as well as more than 3,000 patients that the Center will treat this year. Thank you! 

Updates

January 23, 2020

Red-tailed Hawk #19-2663 has been doing well in the Center’s A2 flight pen; the bird is eating well and has been offering Critter Cam viewers some nice, up-close shots!

Unfortunately, the rehabilitation staff determined that the bird has been unable to gain much height during either creance sessions or flight-pen exercise; the cause is suspected to be the feather damage sustained during the bird’s initial trauma and two surgeries. To give the hawk time to safely grow in a new set of secondary flight feathers, the staff decided to stop formal exercise for now, and just allow the bird to self-exercise in the flight pen. Once the bird molts [likely this spring], the staff will re-evaluate.