One of our two fledglings is now spending some time at Audubon's Wildlife Care Center. On Tuesday he was seen by people playing dodge with cars on Burnside---running in and out of traffic. They captured him with by throwing a coat over him and called the Audubon Wildlife Care Center. We sent volunteers down to pick-him up shortly thereafter. His sibling apparently spent the day and early evening on a nearby fire escape.
Busy streets provide a huge danger to fledgling hawks in the city and this is not the first Raptor Cam fledgling that has had problems with cars. There is of course the direct risk from being struck, but there is also risk from the air turbulence caused be cars and trucks moving below their flight paths. If they are flying low, it is easy for them to get sucked downward by the swirling air and get slammed into the ground or hit. In addition, newly fledged hawks are still learning about the world around them---the technical term we use is "young and dumb"---they sometimes just wander into places that they shouldn't. Remember that this bird has only been out of its egg for seven weeks and it has only been out of the nest for 24 hours.
The hawk was examined yesterday by our staff veterinarian, Deb Sheaffer. We are also running a full set of diagnostics---blood work, fecal, throat swabs---to make sure while we have him that everything else is working right. If everything checks out, we should have him back with his family within a day or so. The biggest thing is to make sure that he was not hit--on first exam he does not appear to have been, but we want to make sure that his adventures among the cars were the result of confusion and naivete as opposed to having actually being struck. If everything looks good on further exam, we will test fly him in one of our flight cages. If everything checks out on the flight test, he will return to his via the nest ledge with new adventures to report. We also banded him while we had him in hand.
The parents will take him back despite the human handling. The belief that birds will reject their young if they have been handled by humans is a myth. Most birds have only a rudimentary sense of smell (turkey vultures and pelagic seabirds are exceptions and have a very strong sense of smell). Beyond that they have huge dedication to their young---they have made a huge investment in their young since they laid those eggs the better part of three months ago. They will not just abandon them at this point.
The key is to reunite them sooner rather than late. If the adults are left too long without young to care for, their hormone levels will drop and they will lose their parental instincts. However as long as their is still another sibling out their for them to care for this will not be an issue. None the less, we still want to expedite reuniting them so that he can continue his natural development with his family.
By the way he is a male by weight and various other body measurements. There is overlap between red-tails males and females in terms of weight, and he is in that gray area, but his foot and leg measurements indicate that he is definitely a male.
He is one of 200-300 birds of prey and 2000-3000 wild animals that will pass through Audubon's Wildlife Care Center this year!
Here is the shot of mom with her young taken the day that they fledged right before sunset. It was posted on the prior blog entry but for some reason disapeared from the page.