Your intrepid wildlife rehabber took her one and only out-of-town trip for the year last weekend, to the Big Apple, and had a close encounter with a New York icon. We were on a stroll through Central Park in the snow when NYC legend red-tailed hawk Pale Male landed in a nearby tree and graciously posed for a few quick photos. He did not, however, offer to sign autographs!
In all seriousness, Pale Male is truly a gorgeous red-tail whose fame came about because he was the first of his species documented to nest on a building rather than in a tree. At about 18 years of age, he’s also fairly old for a red-tail, and because he and his successive mates--currently Lola–have raised numerous broods, some 26 of Pale Male’s offspring are now urban nesters. Neat info, huh?
Also spotted while in Parts North was this female mallard swimming in icy water as snow covered her back.
Meanwhile, closer to home, Harvey Wallbanger continues to bang away as his wing heals. (The white you see on his wing is the bandage.) In another couple of weeks, we’ll be unwrapping it to see if it’s healed enough for him to begin flight conditioning. At present, it sounds as if I have major construction going on, he’s demolished one log and has started on a second, and the bottom of his pen is lined with large wood chips–he’s living up to his name!
I also had a black vulture come in recently with a really nasty open wing fracture. There was nothing to be done for him except euthanize humanely, poor fellow.
And I hear some of you now, exclaiming, "You handled a vulture?? Oh, how gross!"
News flash, folks: vultures are necessary! If not for them and other carrion eaters, we’d live in a really smelly world. Yeah, they’re not the most attractive birds in the world, with their naked faces, but c’mon– feathers just aren’t practical around the beak of a bird that consumes carrion (roadkill and such) as the bulk of its diet. Every species has its role in nature (okay, except for cockroaches, who serve no useful purpose and apparently exist solely to freak me out), and vultures provide a quite useful and necessary service.
I also have an adult female red-tailed hawk who was witnessed fighting another, larger female red-tail. (Fun fact here: female raptors are generally larger than males.) The witnesses shooed off the larger bird and brought this lady to me. According to raptor rehabber Steve Hicks, this isn’t normal behavior for red-tails unless the food supply is low in their territory, so we’re guessing this was a squabble over who owned the local red-tail restaurant, and our lady lost. (Those are bits of food you see scattered around her feet. She's not eating on her own yet--still too stressed--hence last photo in this update, taken by my niece, of me feeding her.)
Her face looks like she’s been through a meat grinder, and it’s pretty much a miracle that she survived the fight, but even with her battle-scarred face, she’s still a majestic creature and a feisty girl, so Steve and I decided she should be called Boadicea, after the ancient Celtic warrior queen. (Since she’ll be transferred to Steve, he needed a say in naming her.)
All in all, it’s been a fairly typical January so far, with few intakes... and having said that, I probably just invoked Murphy’s Law and will get slammed for the rest of the month!