Volunteer Wildlife Transporter Gloria Diggs Takes Part in Release On Thursday, August 30, the Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, released a Cooper's Hawk on the Blue Ridge Parkway not far from the Center's Waynesboro clinic. The hawk, injured after apparently hitting a building in Poquoson and a patient at the Wildlife Center for more than six months, was originally transported to the Wildlife Center by longtime volunteer wildlife transporter Gloria Diggs, a retired Army colonel. On August 30, Diggs joined Center staff in releasing the hawk.
Cooper's Hawk Release
[+] Amanda Nicholson of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, holding the Cooper's Hawk, with Colonel Gloria Diggs at the release site
The Cooper's Hawk, an immature bird, apparently flew into the side of a building on February 14. The bird was first examined at the Poquoson Veterinary Hospital and then brought to the Center by Diggs on February 15 - a one-way trip of more than 150 miles. At the Wildlife Center, the Cooper's Hawk was given a full physical examination. The bird was unable to stand on its left leg and had an eye injury; x-rays found no broken bones, although it appears that the bird had suffered an earlier broken bone in its chest that had healed. [Nearly one-quarter of the Cooper's Hawks examined in one recent study had healed fractures in the bones of the chest.] The hawk was given anti-inflammatories and cage rest. Within a week, the bird was able to stand on its leg, but still could not fly well. The hawk's recovery was further complicated when several of its feathers were broken. The bird was not able to be released until those feathers grew back in - a process that took several months. The Wildlife Center generally prefers to release wildlife back into the area where the animals were first found. In this case, however, rather than risk further feather damage that might occur during a long transport back to the Poquoson area, the Center's veterinary staff decided to release the Cooper's Hawk on the Blue Ridge Parkway, close to the Wildlife Center. Some Cooper's Hawks are migratory, wintering in the southern U.S. and Mexico. The release site on the Blue Ridge Parkway is close to Rockfish Gap, a major pathway for migrating hawks across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Many of the Cooper's Hawks seen at the Wildlife Center each year are "crash victims", having hit windows, tree limbs, or other obstacles while pursuing small birds, their major prey. "Gloria frequently brings us injured animals from the Hampton Roads area, and we were delighted that she was able to join us for the release of a bird that she had originally brought to us back in February," Wildlife Center President and Co-Founder Ed Clark said. "Volunteer transporters like Gloria are the critical "ambulance drivers" of wildlife medicine - they help us help animals by bringing them to our Waynesboro clinic. Gloria and scores of other volunteer transporters play a vital role in treating hundreds of injured, sick, and orphaned animals each year."
Cooper's Hawk Release
[+] Amanda Nicholson of the Wildlife Center of Virginia holding the Cooper's Hawk, with Colonel Gloria Diggs
Every year, about 2,500 animals - ranging from Black Bears to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds - are brought to the Wildlife Center for care. "The goal of the Center is to restore our patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild," Clark said. "At the Wildlife Center, we treat to release." The Wildlife Center is an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine, celebrating 25 years of service during 2007. Since its founding in 1982, the nonprofit Center has cared for more than 48,000 wild animals, representing 200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The Center's public education programs share insights gained through the care of injured and orphaned wildlife, in hopes of reducing human damage to wildlife. The Center trains veterinary and conservation professionals from all over the world and is actively involved in comprehensive wildlife health studies and the surveillance of emerging diseases. Additional information about the Wildlife Center is available at www.wildlifecenter.org.