Monday, November 3, 2008

Red Tail Hawk

One of my many hobbies that I wish I could make a living at is wildlife rehabilitation. It isn't very often, but every once and awhile I'll get a call from The Raptor Center in the Twin Cities or the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, also in the Cities with a report of an injured critter in my area. I'm a volunteer transport driver for both places. So if I am able, I'll pick up the critter and run it over to the appropriate facility. It isn't as much as I'd like to do. And very often I'm otherwise indisposed for a transport.

Anyway. Around Halloween I got a call from TRC about an injured Red Tailed Hawk in a town about 45 minutes away. I contacted the finder and they said they were coming up to my neck of the woods anyway and would meet me in town. They had the bird in a dog kennel covered with a sheet. (Well done) They said they had been seeing it for a couple of days before they were able to catch it.

I transferred her over to my transport box and did a quick exam. First off, I'm guessing it was a she based on size. Males are smaller than females, and she was a good sized hawk. The next thing I noticed was a droopy left wing. Upon exam I found a broken and protruding humerus. That would be your upper arm bone. The end of the bone was dry. That's not a good sign. Usually it means that they cannot fix the bone and will euthanize the bird.

Well, I drove her home and put her in my quiet, darkened shop and called up to TRC. I spoke with the on call vet and made arrangements to deliver her the next day. I went back out that night to get a few pictures of her. The Boyo came with me and was very good about being quiet and calm around the bird. Of course, he didn't want to leave when it was time to go in. But he said goodnight to the hawk and followed me back inside for the night. And when I asked him what symbol he wanted on his shield for his Halloween costume, he said with some finality...

"A Red TAIL Hawk!" with emphasis on the word 'tail'. He seems a bit smitten with them too. Just like his Daddy.

The drive up was a little depressing, as I knew what the fate of this beautiful bird would probably be. The vet agreed with my initial assessment of the broken humerus and I left.

I have a soft spot for raptors, and Red Tail Hawks in particular. Maybe it's the Lakota in me, maybe I just anthropomorphize too much, I don't know. But it seems that whenever I look a Red Tail in the eyes, whether up close or at a distance, they seem to be telling me something. I see their spirit reflected in my own. I feel a definite intangible connection to those birds, which is why it pains me every time I take one up. Usually by the time they are sick enough to be caught they are beyond saving.

Still, beautiful birds and fun to watch. The Boyo reminded me tonight before I left for work to check up on our red tailed friend. His parting words to me were,

"Daddy, remember to see how the red tail hawk is doing at the doctors office."

So do I tell him the truth? Or tell him that our hawk friend is mending and will be flying free again soon? I know which one I want to be true.

More Later

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