Columbia Field Office Steps in to Help Injured Hawk
By Trisha Crabill
Columbia Ecological Service Field Office
The Columbia Missouri Field Office recently received a call about a red-tailed hawk that appeared to be 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 St. Louis to retrieve the bird. Working with a Service Law Enforcement special agent, biologist Trisha Crabill was able to capture the hawk and transport it to the World Bird Sanctuary, a nearby rehabilitation facility in St. 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.
Many Service field stations probably receive similar calls for injured birds or other wildlife. So what should you do?
If your office doesn't already have a list of qualified wildlife rehabilitators, you can call a local veterinarian, humane society, or county or municipal wildlife agency to find the nearest qualified wildlife rehabilitator that can take and treat the bird.
You may also access the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association site at http://www.nwrawildlife.org/content/finding-rehabilitator to help put you in touch with a qualified rehabilitator. While you are locating a suitable rehabilitator, experts recommend keeping the bird in a dark box in a warm, quiet spot and refrain from offering it food or water.