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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Injured Hawk Rescued in Saint Louis

Region 3, March 28, 2013
An injured red-tailed hawk was rescued by Service biologist Trisha Crabill and taken to the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis for treatment.
An injured red-tailed hawk was rescued by Service biologist Trisha Crabill and taken to the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis for treatment. - Photo Credit: n/a
Veterinarians at the World Bird Sanctuary inspect the hawk for signs of injury.
Veterinarians at the World Bird Sanctuary inspect the hawk for signs of injury. - Photo Credit: n/a
Service biologist Trisha Crabill holds the beak closed while veterinarians clean the wound.
Service biologist Trisha Crabill holds the beak closed while veterinarians clean the wound. - Photo Credit: n/a

Recently, the Columbia Missouri Field Office received a call about a red-tailed hawk which appeared unable to fly and was potentially injured. While a raptor rehabilitation facility in Columbia was willing to receive and treat the hawk, none of their staff was able to drive to Saint Louis to retrieve the animal. The hawk had been in this condition for at least three days, and the caller was concerned about any further delay in medical attention.

Because the hawk had already been without food or water for several days, the Columbia office offered to assist by driving to Saint Louis to retrieve the bird. Working with Service Special Agent, biologist Trisha Crabill was able to capture the hawk and transport it to the World Bird Sanctuary, a nearby rehabilitation facility in Saint Louis.

Upon examining the hawk, veterinarians quickly discovered the source of injury -a wound through the chest and into the esophagus. According to veterinarians, the injury could have been the result of a number of things, including colliding with a stick or other object while hunting prey. Unfortunately, wounds penetrating the esophagus often are unable to heal and despite the veterinarians’ best attempts, the hawk didn’t survive. Although the outcome was disappointing, we appreciate the concern of the people who reported the hawk and the veterinarians who worked to rehabilitate it.

So what should you do if you find an injured bird?

Please call your local veterinarian, humane society, or county or municipal wildlife agency to find the nearest qualified wildlife rehabilitator that can take and treat the bird. Or you may also access the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association site at the link below to help put you in touch with a qualified rehabilitator. While you are locating a suitable rehabilitator, keep the bird in a dark box in a warm, quiet spot. Do not disturb it or offer it food. Let it rest.

Contact Info: Trisha Crabill, 573-234-2132 x 121, trisha_crabill@fws.gov