Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

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PAWS Mailing Address:
PO Box 1037
Lynnwood WA, 98046

PAWS Physical Address:
15305 44th Ave W
Lynnwood, WA 98037

Kevin Mack

Lasting Impact
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

On Saturday, January 15th, I was standing on the edge of a shrubby field in Olympia, WA. To my right, a row of alders hugged the banks of a shallow, salmon-bearing stream. I did not know that the stream bore salmon because I had seen them. I had not, in fact, even seen the stream itself, but the sound of flowing water was clearly audible. I knew that the stream bore salmon because the air around me was thick with their scent. A great number of the fish must have completed their final journey not far from the spot in which I was standing. Straight ahead of me, about 100 yards away, another stand of alders bordered the far edge of the field. Beyond that stand of trees I could hear the sound of a different kind of flow. It was the unmistakable sound of flowing traffic. To my left sat a pet carrier which contained a Red-tailed Hawk that was intimately familiar with the impact of the vehicles that were creating that sound. Next to the carrier stood Mr. and Mrs. Budde-- two people whose intervention had prevented the hawk from ending up in the same condition as the nearby salmon.

Mr. and Mrs. Budde had first made this hawk's acquaintance on December 2nd, 2004. As they were driving north on Highway 101 in Olympia, they noticed a large bird flying low across the road. As it passed through the southbound lanes, the bird was struck by a car, and Mrs. Budde saw it fall to the ground, tumbling end over end. The driver who had hit the bird continued south without stopping.


Red-tailed Hawk 04-4532 enjoys some sunshine in the PAWS flight pen.

Although it appeared unlikely that the bird had survived the impact, Mr. and Mrs. Budde could not continue on without knowing for sure. They turned around at the next exit, and headed back to check for signs of life. What they found was a Red-tailed Hawk floundering by the roadside, and in desperate need of help. Mrs. Budde scooped the bird up in her jacket, and she held him in her lap as Mr. Budde drove them to a local vet clinic. The hawk was transferred to PAWS the next day, and he was entered into the database as case #04-4532.

Although Red-tailed Hawk 04-4532 did not incur any broken bones when he was struck by the car, he did suffer major head trauma. During his initial physical exam, he appeared to be uncoordinated, and his pupils did not respond appropriately to light. In addition, one of the hawks talons had been damaged, exposing the underlying bone, and the tip of his beak had been broken off. Fortunately, only the keratinous, non-living portion of the beak had been affected, so this would cause the hawk no permanent impairment. The bird's injured foot was wrapped, and he was prescribed a period of cage rest to allow time for the head trauma to resolve. He steadily improved over a two week period, and on December 16th he was moved to a medium-sized outdoor pen in which he could stretch his wings.

On December 27th, the hawk's foot injury had healed enough to remove the bandage. His talon had a slightly irregular surface, but the bone was no longer exposed. The bird's head trauma had completely resolved, and he now appeared strong and coordinated. He was eager to fly, but he had lost a bit of stamina during his 3+ week convalescence. On January 3rd, he was placed in a large, outdoor flight pen in which he could condition himself for release. By January 15th, he was sitting in the animal carrier looking out over his territory and waiting for that release to come.

Mrs. Budde had been the one who had scooped the hawk up in his time of need, and taken him away from his territory in seek of help. I felt that it would be best if she were the one to allow him to return home now that he was whole again.

Cedar Waxwing

Red-tailed Hawk 04-4532 extends his legs as he comes in for a landing.

Mrs. Budde was very excited by this suggestion; so much so that she was having difficulty working the latch on the carrier door. Mr. Budde looked on, also gripped with visible excitement. I stepped in and unhooked the latch, and then stepped back as Mrs. Budde opened the door. A flurry of feathers burst out of the carrier as the hawk eagerly accepted Mrs. Budde's gift. The bird quickly gained altitude and veered off to the right, but my eyes did not follow him. I was fixated on the two people that were standing before me watching the ultimate result of the good deed they had performed more than a month earlier. Their faces held expressions that conveyed equal parts joy and amazement. My face likely looked very similar as I watched them with the knowledge that an encounter with a wild life was affecting them so profoundly.

The hawk landed at the top of one of the alders bordering the stream, and I asked Mr. and Mrs. Budde if the bird looked a little different than the last time they had seen him. An excited conversation ensued during which the Buddes recounted, in great detail, the story of how they had come to find the hawk. After several minutes, we looked up to find that the hawk had moved on. The distressed calls of Steller's Jays followed him off into the distance.

As I drove back from Olympia with an empty carrier, it was clear to me that the Budde's brief experience with this wild animal would affect them for the rest of their lives. Having taken part in the process that saved the hawk's life, they now had a vested interest in his continued well-being. In their hands, and in the carrier, the hawk had been a distinguishable individual to which they could relate. Now that he was free, he would be much harder to discern from any other free-living Red-tailed Hawk. From now on, any hawk that the Budde's encounter will trigger the emotions associated with the individual that they helped save. They will tell this hawk's story repeatedly, and in doing so raise awareness of one major hazard to wildlife among their acquaintances.

Wildlife Release tally: January 5th to January 25th, 2005

2 Eastern Grey Squirrells
2 Glaucous-winged gulls
1 Mallard
1 Varied Thursh
1 Northern Flicker
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Rock pigeon

Wildlife Release tally: 2005
11 animals

All rights reserved. 2005 Progressive Animal Welfare Society