X-rays showed no broken bones, but after nearly two weeks, his wing still dangled. Vet Peggy Hobby & I agreed that there was soft tissue damage, a torn ligament or tendon, which isn’t fixable in a small songbird. He never would have flown again, and nighthawks eat on the wing. See that tiny beak in the photo? It opens to a huge maw—nighthawks, like chuck-will’s-widows and whippoorwills, fly along scooping up insects, mostly mosquitoes, in their oversized mouths.
Since it was totally unnatural for him to eat any way other than in flight, I was having to force-feed him, which was stressing him out to the point that he was losing feathers by the handful every time I fed him; he also knew he shouldn’t still be here and would flail around in his box, trying to follow his body’s instinct to migrate. It was not a pleasant situation for him or for me, so while I regret the need to euthanize, it was ultimately the most humane option for this brave little nighthawk.
I have only one gray squirrel remaining, and he’s in release phase now. I expect him to have cut the proverbial apron strings before the next update.
The flyers have also—pardon the pun—flown the coop. It generally doesn’t take these sweet little rascals long to figure out that there’s a whole wide world full of wonder and adventure outside their pen, and this year’s trio stayed true to form. Within three days of being given the option to come and go as they pleased, it pleased them to move on.
Just FYI: this is the time of year to be putting up owl nesting boxes. These nocturnal raptors mate, nest and rear their young in the fall and winter, so when you hear more owls than usual calling at night in the fall, you’re hearing feathered courtship in progress.
And please remember—and inform others—that if you should find an unnested downy (baby) owl in the coming winter months, it’s imperative that you call a licensed rehabber right away. These birds require very specialized care to prevent nutritional deficiencies and damage to their eyesight.