Dizzy Part 2

I went down to the center today and the director said that she had received an email from the finders of the hawk I rescued on Saturday, and that they were impressed with my coworker and I, evidently I was right that they doubted two short women could complete the rescue. The finders had also included two photos, one showed the hawk upside down in the tree. I was excited because I was so mad at myself for not getting pictures of such a strange event.

The other photo was one of me holding the hawk. I was unaware that the finder had even taken a photo of me with the hawk.I’ll have to say the hawk looks pretty upset.

In the photo you can’t tell (thank goodness because it had been sent to my director!), but I didn’t have the best hold of the hawk’s talons.¬†The talons were twisted, not a major mistake just a rookie one, sometimes it just happens. Thought I’d share the photos, hope you enjoy more photos of the hawk. By the way she still hasn’t had any problems and will probably be going home soon. ūüôā

Dizzy

Today I headed down to the center to feed Nelson and I overheard one of the workers down there answer the phone, “You have a hawk that is hanging upside down in a tree?”

Immediately¬†my ears perked up and without much thought, “I can go get it!”

After hanging up the phone my co-worker agreed to go with me.The two of us headed out and when we got to the location fifteen minutes later we saw that the hawk was indeed hanging upside down from a branch. And of course, I forgot my phone and had no way to photograph the bizarre image of a hawk hanging upside down like a bat.

She had a beautiful red tail, and that is how we know that she is a red tailed hawk. We had put her on her stomach so that we could give her fluids to aid with dehydration. 

The finder told us that the hawk had been like that for at least two hours. Assessing the situation the hawk was dangling over a five-foot deep ravine. Not the ideal situation for rescuing a hawk. My co-worker climbed through the thick rhododendron and thorn bushes to the top of the ravine and I slipped and slid down through the brush and mud to the bottom. My co-worker was now eye level to the hawk but unfortunately, she was still out of reach.

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The hawk was gripping the branch with both talons and was barely moving, terrified I wondered that when she was finally right side up that the blood rushing back to her head would kill her.

The finder called out to us, “I have a saw, do you think we could cut the branch?”

My co-worker and I thought about it and then agreed while not ideal it seemed to be the only option. I waited at the bottom to catch the hawk while they sawed the branch. In no time the hawk was hurtling towards me talons first. It was quite intimidating watching her talons grow closer to my face. The hawk angrily landed at my feet, stunned by the world tilting right side up again.

We wrapped her up in what we call a burrito. This allows us to exam and weigh her safely. Her mouth is open due to stress and dehydration. If it’s just stress we call it open mouth breathing but because her behavior was more defensive she was hackling at us. This is very much like a dog raising its hair when it’s on the defense and preparing to attack.

Oddly enough we couldn’t figure out why the hawk was upside down. The hawk appears to be fine other than a little bit of vertigo! My kid was amused by the story and nicknamed her Dizzy. We are hopeful that it was some freak accident and that she will be back to normal in no time and ready for release.

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The red tailed hawk weighed close to three pounds, which is the weight for females. She is one hefty hawk! This makes me happy because she was hunting well in the wild and was a successful predator. In the picture below you can see her head feathers ruffled, another sign of her hackling.

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Daily Word Prompt: Aware

Aware

I don’t see a bird in the sky
I see it’s a turkey vulture circling¬†on dinner

I don’t see an apple core on the side of the road
I see a hawk that will be hit by a car

I don’t just see a glue trap
I see the glue on a songbird unable to fly

I don’t see styrofoam plates and paper cups
I see a pile of waste taking up space

I don’t just see a broken wing
I see the tears where bullets ripped through

I don’t see snackfood and makeup
I see a rainforest destroyed

Once you become aware
You can never see just the surface again

rtha

via Daily Prompt: Aware

Chicken Hawks & Lamb Hawks

At a festival, a child came up to me while I was holding Captain a Red Tailed Hawk. In response to seeing the hawk, he said in his country accent, “My daddy likes to shoot those with a shotgun!”

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Trying to stay composed I nodded my head, but before I could say anything else he added, “They took off with our chickens!”

Smiling at him, “Did you know that a hawks favorite food is mice?”

“And chickens, ’cause¬†they chicken hawks.”

“Actually, a hawk like¬†Captain very rarely goes after the chickens. But I bet they do hang out around your chicken coops?”

“Yeah, all the time to go after are chickens!”

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Smiling again at his persistence, “Well it’s because mice hang out at chicken coops to eat the chicken feed. And where there are mice, there are hawks.”

Intently watching Captain, I could tell he was absorbing this information. Finally, he spoke, “So they aren’t really chicken hawks?”

Joy filled my heart at his realization, “Nope, and it’s actually against the law to hurt these guys or even keep a feather.”

I say that knowing I have a stash of beautiful feathers in my car. Collecting feathers is a small illegal kind of obsessive¬†hobby. It’s illegal in the United States to have possession¬†of feathers from any North American bird species. That’s because if you have just the feather how are you going to prove you obtained that feather humanely.

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Since Captain is a male, he only weighs about 2 and half pounds. Females can weigh up to 4 pounds.

My favorite response that I ever heard a child say when they saw me holding a red-tailed hawk was, “Did you know that red-tailed hawks eat lambs? And that there strong enough to carry a baby sheep away?

Nope, I never realized a bird that barely weighs over three pounds could carry away an animal that weighs up to 200 pounds. At least the kid was enthusiastic about hawks.

Running With Scissors

 

Literally, Nelson took off with a pair of scissors and went running with them. The gal I am teaching on how to train Nelson had a pair of scissors fall out of her pocket while in the room with him, and of course Nelson noticed it and probably thought, “Oh, SHINY! MINE! MINE!”

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Image from comandress.com. This a lovely photo I found on Google. I think it captures the inquisitive nature of crows beautifully.

At one point the gal with me in the room attempted to regain possession¬†of the scissors but he wasn’t going to give them back without a fight. So we let him run to see what he would do with them, and of course, like any good corvid, he cached them under the newspapers. Below is a link to the video, and no crows were harmed in the making of that video!

Crow Antics

Interesting,¬†fun fact¬†is that the notion that corvids are attracted to shiny objects and caching¬†them is more folklore than science. Most corvids do not have an affinity¬†for shiny objects. Research has been conducted on this matter and it found that the majority of corvids in both in captivity and in the wild did not show an affinity for shiny objects. In fact, many were more hesitant of shiny objects. For example, corvids fed with shiny bowls were less likely to take the food. Now Nelson is imprinted, meaning he thinks people are his family. I have found through three years of observation that Nelson most definitely¬†has an attraction to shiny things. But most of all Nelson has an attraction to anything that you want. For example, he knew the scissors belonged to the gal and when she attempted to reclaim them, it made the steal that much more fun because she was “playing back.” The scissors were both shiny and something we wanted so it made for a delightful steal. Hey, he’s like a child, sometimes your just glad that for one minute their entertained and not destroying the house! Corvids are like children or dementia patients they all have their favorite obsession. I’ve heard of a crow once in Florida that loved stealing golf balls, which doesn’t enhance the survival chances of that crow any. Unless that crow found some use that we don’t know yet for golf balls.

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We put some night crawlers in a bowl of water as enrichment. Nothing says fun like bobbing for worms or taking a bath in water that just had worms floating in it! One of Nelson’s favorite activities is bathing in water and because of the temperature, we took away his giant bowl of water outside. He is supposed to be one of the smartest bird’s in the world and yet he hasn’t figured out that when it’s cold you shouldn’t take a bath. I have walked out to him once and he had taken a bath and his feathers had frozen to his body. Let’s just say he was not a happy camper.

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The center I work at is a part of my minor for college and currently, I now have four students who are learning how to train ambassadors working under me. It was fitting that Nelson went running with scissors today because¬†I feel like I am running with scissors when I train with the students. I have trained animals ranging from dogs to opossums to hawks, but I have never taught someone how to train an animal. I can only hope that I don’t tell them the wrong thing!

Right now I am focusing on teaching them the correct diet for crows. Since crows are omnivores and opportunistic¬†they will eat almost anything. It is critical in captivity that crows receive variety, so often I have seen handlers fall into the routine of feeding the same thing every day because it is easy, it doesn’t require thought. To train Nelson I use all the good food like crickets, mice, fish, and egg as rewards for doing desired behaviors. At least Nelson provided great entertainment¬†to my weekend. He is a joy to work with if you can keep up with his antics!

 

The Thankful Heron

Last year, I worked at the center during Thanksgiving, it was supposed to be the usual boring holiday shifts. And it was late afternoon the day before Thanksgiving when we received a phone call from a finder who had found a Great Blue Heron. Immediately we perked up 20161128_153818because¬†we don’t get very many Great Blue’s into the center and unfortunately¬†they have a low success rate because of their fragility.

“Currently we are understaffed and unable to come pick up the bird from you. Do you think that you could drive the bird to us? From your location, you’re only an hour away.” We urged the finder, time was not on our side. The longer it took to get the heron to us, the chances of the bird dying grew higher.

“I can try, it’s just that I don’t drive well at night.” She paused, “If you don’t see me in the next hours then I couldn’t make it and I’ll try again tomorrow.”

The next hour and a half anxiously went by, with frequent glances at the passing time and the empty doorway. The moment the finder stepped through the door we breathed breaths we weren’t aware that we were holding in relief.

Expecting the worst once we found out that the heron had been the victim of being hit by a car, we started looking for the usual main injury: a broken pelvis. A broken pelvis only has one outcome, and it’s not a pleasant one but a humane choice of euthanasia. Remarkably, the heron only had a left wing ulna fracture.

For comparison purposes, I added a picture of a human arm for perspective, of where the ulna is located. Surprisingly, the anatomy on a bird is nearly identical to that of a human.

Challenge can you spot the small fracture? Hint it’s at the top of the ulna near the wrist. Scroll to the bottom for the answer!

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The finder once hearing the good news, told us her story of finding the heron, “I was near the fire station and me and this firefighter saw this guy taking selfies with a Great Blue Heron. So we walked over to the guy to see what was going on. The guy said he had hit the heron with his car and was excited to see one up close. The firefighter and I agreed that the bird needed to be rescued so we took the bird from the guy. But my car was so full of stuff that I didn’t have room for such a large bird. And can you believe it, the firefighters let me empty my car and store my stuff at the station so that I could take the bird to you guys! So now I have to go back to the station and get my stuff.”

The finder has been calling almost every week since then to find out how “her heron” was doing. Last time she called she was pleased to find out that the heron¬†had been moved to a flight cage and is preparing for release, which she is of course invited to!

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Did anybody locate the fracture? It’s can be tricky reading a radiograph and finding small fractures, like this one above. Any size fracture in a wing can be significant and many birds never fully recover the ability to fly. The worst fractures are those near the wrist because of the critical role the wrist play in flight and bending the wing. The heron was one of those rare cases that healed smoothly with very little complications and regained full flight ability.

Here is a link to a short video of the heron eating trout. I wish I had a better video but it was super difficult taking a video through the bars without her seeing me, and she eats so fast that it’s easy to miss the moment. In the three years, I have been working at the center, she is the first heron to survive and will be the first one I get to release. For that, I am thankful¬†since they are such majestic birds!

Great Blue Heron Eating