Case #12-221 Red-tailed hawk

On October 12th, an immature red-tailed hawk was brought into our facility from Yuma, Colorado.  The bird had been hit by a truck.  Now being hit by a vehicle is not unusual since a lot of hunting goes on along side of our roadways this time of year.  It is where the food is.  What was unusual was the way the bird was hit by the semi truck–she flew into the moving truck through the open window!  Imagine the driver’s surprise!  Thankfully, the driver was not hurt and was able to contact the Division of Parks and Wildlife to get help for the hawk.

When the hawk arrived at our facility, she was alert and her body condition was good, quite good in fact–she weighed 1550 grams  That is a pretty good size red-tailed hawk.  The rehabilitation staff gave her a complete exam and found no broken bones or head trauma, only some bruising on the left elbow where she probably hit the truck window frame as she flew by.  After giving her subcutaneous fluids (given just under the skin) and medication for pain, she was placed in one of the cages in our critical care room for further observation.  Those first few days of rehabilitation are so critical in evaluating the birds that come into our care.  A very small core of people care for the injured birds during this critical time so that we have constant assessment and consistency in observation and care.  This allows us to change our treatment with the sometimes rapid changes that occur in those first few days, especially with trauma patients.  This type of caging also limits the activity level of the patient and provides sort of a “forced” rest period.  This hawk was strong  and showed improvement with each day.  On day 4, she moved to an outside recovery cage to continue her rest and recovery.  These recovery cages allow us to still keep the patient quiet and limit their activity without having to handle them every day.  The bruising and soft tissue trauma has healed and currently the bird is out in one of our flight cages for flight conditioning and assessment.  She is heading in the right direction for release.

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