Red-tailed hawk

In late October, the staff at Muller Veterinary Clinic had an unexpected visitor when a red-tailed hawk flew into one of the closed windows of the building behind their own. Luckily for the bird, the staff was able to capture it and it was transferred to the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital.

Red-tailed hawk in an aviary
Red-tailed hawk in an aviary
The initial exam revealed that the hawk had suffered a chest bruise from the collision, as well as a fractured left wing. The wing was fractured in three places, but the veterinarian determined that the injury was fixable and the hawk would have a good chance at a full recovery.

The bird was monitored for two days, during which the staff administered fluids and left mice in the enclosure. The night before the third day, staff and volunteers removed all food in preparation for surgery the next day. During the operation, a Lindsay vet placed four pins in the hawk’s wing bones and wrapped the wing to immobilize it while it healed.

As the bird recuperated, the prognosis looked good. It was feisty during exams and had a healthy appetite. Exactly two weeks after the first operation, a our veterinarian operated a second time to remove three of the pins. The wing appeared to be healing well and a week later, a third operation removed the fourth pin.

Five weeks after Muller Veterinary Clinic made the call to Lindsay Wildlife Hospital, the hawk was moved to the outdoor aviaries to finish its recovery. During its healing process, the bird lost several important wing feathers at the fracture site. Staff monitored the bird to make sure its wing feathers were growing back so it could fly. Even though the wing fracture had healed, the bird could not be released until it demonstrated that it could fly well enough to feed itself and survive in the wild.

Wildlife hospital supervisor Trish Orlowski and Muller Veterinary Clinic staff
Wildlife hospital supervisor Trish Orlowski and Muller Veterinary Clinic staff

By the first week of January, the hawk’s wing feathers were grown in and and the bird was flying normally. On January 14, staff members from both Lindsay and Muller Veterinary Clinic gathered to release the hawk. It was taken to an area close to where it was found and was successfully returned to the wild.

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