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Monday, December 24, 2007

Sick hawk in Park Slope

Yesterday I received an email from my friend, Christina, with a link to a Flickr webpage. A woman found a hawk standing on the sidewalk a few blocks away from where I live. The author of the webpage thought that it was a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, but I'm certain that it's actually a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk. Red-shouldered Hawks are usually rare around NYC in December, but in recent years seem to be reported on the annual Christmas Bird Count more frequently.

I was concerned about the poor thing and sent an email to Bobby Horvath, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who works with many of the injured raptors from NYC. Below is his response. I'll post some updates as soon as I know anything:

Hi Rob,

I've been busy picking up [juvenile] red-tails this season, 16 so far and mostly from Manhattan and the Bronx but not the one (?) in the picture. The last Brooklyn red-tail I know of for sure was back on 11/30 from Bristol St.

You're right it could be a red-shouldered. I've had a few and the [juveniles] have the distinct shoulder patch, which I couldn’t make out from that shot, but it does have the long stick-like legs. Many birds I receive from [Animal Medical Center], which provide excellent care and release to me for further care when they're ready. They just can't assess the bird’s flight ability from a small hospital cage, so if they were to attempt to release on their own, it might just hop skip away and not be retrievable once freed. Just yesterday I got another [juvenile] red-tailed from there, came from 192 St. and Bennet Ave in Washington Heights, and a [juvenile] Black-crowned Night Heron with a foot injury from Prospect Park. Unfortunately, I don't always get the intake info on the animal’s origins if a Good Samaritan doesn't leave that info. I just only know from which borough it came. The red-tail from Bronx I got after Thanksgiving from the NYPD did fine and was released. I try to return birds from nearby where found when possible, but this time of year with [juveniles], it’s a judgment call. First, if it isn't an accomplished hunter and just came in starving without an injury I sometimes winter them over. Chances are, after I fatten them up and the weather gets worse, it just may end up starving again and this time might not be found before too late.

The injured birds that can be assumed decent hunters can go back where found. They're not necessarily resident birds this time of the year. Some are migrants or else 16, so far, would account for a good chunk of all the resident yearlings and I doubt that’s the case. The city birds that have grown up on mostly pigeons and rats don't have the same opportunity out here on Long Island. Here it’s mostly rabbit, squirrel, and mice so it makes my release site decision a gamble either way. I recently got in a bird I banded and released out here. 8 days after release, about 10 miles from the site, someone actually witnessed it hit an aluminum street light pole. It did fine and I re-released him again hoping for the best this time. If anything interesting come in from your neck of the woods I’ll let you know.

I appreciate the site as always and have a nice holiday season as well.


If you ever encounter an injured hawk or any other bird, here is a website with some good advice.

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"

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