Patient of the Week: Red-shouldered hawk fledglings

On May 30, three young Red-shouldered hawks were found in a box at the front door of Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s rehabilitation hospital. The fledglings are healthy and eating well. Wildlife hospital staff estimates the animals to be about four weeks old. The birds will move from the hospital to artificial nests to begin fledging later this week. This will allow them to mimic what they would do in the wild and gain independence. The complete rehabilitation process could take several more weeks before the hawks are ready for release.

During the last two weeks, 14 young Red-shouldered hawks have been brought to the wildlife rehabilitation hospital. Red-shouldered hawks are common in the Bay Area nest in the springtime. Nests are usually in large trees and made of a bulky twig structure. Fledglings begin leaving the next at 4-5 weeks old, but stay close by. At this point, the young birds are still dependant on their parents for food. In the wild, Red-shouldered hawks eat rodents, snakes and lizards. It is not uncommon to see the young hawks on the ground alone. While this may seem alarming, observe the scene for a while. Most likely, you’ll see the parents return to the area.

It is important that people who bring animals to the wildlife rehabilitation hospital talk with staff or volunteers about the animal. Had the hospital staff known where these three hawks were taken from, it is likely they could have been returned to the nest and their mother. The wildlife rehabilitation hospital is open daily from 9 am to 7 pm. If you have questions or concerns about a specific animal, please call 925-935-1978 to get advice on what to do.