The broadwing from the last update isn’t healing properly, so she’s looking more and more likely to be nonreleasable. She’s slated for transfer soon for further evaluation by Steve Hicks of Bubba & Friends raptor rehab, to determine her ultimate fate.
The black vulture had been hit by a truck the deputies had pulled over, and they had been trying to determine how best to move him before oncoming traffic flattened him. The injured vulture shakily stood up and we herded him to the shoulder of the road. While the deputies watched to make sure he didn’t head back into traffic, I ran back to my car to retrieve gloves, blanket and box. Vultures can run very quickly and can be quite difficult to catch, even when injured—and I did end up chasing him down an embankment and tossing the blanket over him to capture him.
Upon arrival at the shelter, I found the child still holding the bird, unrestrained, in his lap. I took the bird and tried to explain the dangers of what he’d just done, pointing out the hawk’s very sharp talons and graphically describing the damage they could do. I could tell I wasn’t getting through, though, because that had not been the child’s experience.
We have no way to definitively prove that his death was a result of human stupidity, of course, and no way to determine who was responsible, but I can guarantee you that I’d like to nail someone’s hide to the barn door. It’s taken all my restraint to write this calmly about the situation, so enjoy my relative calm while you can; it’s unlikely to occur again.
I’ll repeat what’s becoming my mantra yet again: No matter how cute and cuddly a critter looks, no matter how “neat” you think it would be to attempt to raise or treat that critter yourself, no matter what a “wonderful learning experience” you think it might be for your children, even if your ultimate goal is to release it, IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO DO SO if you don’t have the proper permits—and your well-meaning ignorance can cost that critter its life!
Hopping off the soapbox for now to remind you that the Great Backyard Bird Count will be Feb. 17-20 this year. No matter where you live, you can participate; this is one of the easiest bird counts to take part in. You can count for as little as 15 minutes for just one day, although I think it’s fun to count for at least half an hour each day. Parks are legitimate sites for participation, for you urban dwellers!