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PAWS Mailing Address:
PO Box 1037
Lynnwood WA, 98046

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

                                                                                                April 6th, 2005
Kevin Mack

Cars, Crows, and a Cooper's Hawk at Cowen Park
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

On January 21st, 2005, a Cooper's Hawk near Seattle's Cowen Park was having a very bad day. The hawk was lying helpless on the grass after having suffered a traumatic injury, and he was surrounded by a mob of crows. Vocalizing, dive-bombing, and occasionally pecking, the crows were not surrounding the injured hawk with the intention of lending assistance. On the contrary, the hawk posed a real threat to the crows, and they wanted to remove that threat from their territory. In the end, the crows' efforts were successful, but in a way they could not have expected. The cacophony of cawing corvids grabbed the attention of a nearby human who scooped up the dazed and confused Cooper's Hawk, and brought him to PAWS for treatment.

Upon arriving at PAWS, the Cooper's Hawk was entered into the database as case #05-0062. During the hawk's physical examination, he was alert, but appeared to be suffering from head trauma.
Coopers Hawk
Cooper's Hawk 05-0062 exercises his wings in the
PAWS flight pen.
He had blood in his mouth, a hemorrhage and swelling above his right eye, and he showed limited response to visual stimuli in that eye. Judging from his injuries and the close proximity of the road to the spot in which he was found, Cooper's Hawk 05-0062 had most likely been hit by a car before his encounter with the crows. First a car, then crows, then humans-- from the hawk's perspective the day must have seemed like a downward spiral. PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitators gave the hawk fluids and medications to alleviate shock and reduce swelling. At the end of the day the bird found himself in a dark, quiet cage, hopefully feeling at least physically, if not psychologically better.

By January 24th, hawk 05-0062 appeared to have fully recovered from his head trauma. He was perching normally, responding normally to humans (read: bouncing off the walls of his cage whenever a human was present), and he appeared to have regained full vision in his right eye. On January 25th, he was moved to a larger outdoor cage in which he could stretch his wings. Once the hawk was placed in the larger cage, it was clear that he was having difficulty flying. The bird was radiographed, but no explanation for his flight impairment could be seen on the resulting films. He was prescribed additional time in the aviary cage in the hopes that his flight capabilities would improve with time and exercise. Thankfully, they did.

Coopers Hawk
PAWS volunteer Karen Elliott opens the door to
free Cooper's Hawk 05-0062.
On February 28th, the hawk graduated to a much larger flight pen. He had gained strength during his one-month stay in the aviary cage, but he was not yet exhibiting the effortless, agile flight that is typical for a Cooper's Hawk. The extra room afforded to him in the flight pen allowed him to continue to build stamina. By the third week of March, the bird was deemed fit for release.

On March 23rd I drove hawk 05-0062 back to his home in Seattle. Cowen Park was alive with birds. American Robins searched for food on the ground while a Northern Flicker called from the nearby treetops. A few crows were present as well. I knew that all of these birds would be upset when they saw the hawk, and I hoped that he would not immediately be beset by an angry mob as he exited the carrier. I kept an especially wary eye on a crow that was foraging in a tree about 50 yards away. It was within his power to call in every crow within earshot if he felt threatened. Fortunately, he paid little attention as the hawk regained his freedom.

PAWS wildlife volunteer Karen Elliott did the honors, opening the carrier door to free Cooper's Hawk 05-0062.
Coopers Hawk
The Cooper's Hawk flies free for the first time in
2 months.
The hawk had been doing his best to exit the carrier while the door was closed, so he wasted no time in departing once the barrier was removed. In a continuous blur of motion, he emerged from the carrier, launched himself skyward, and began to gain altitude. He banked off to his right, and without missing a beat he flew through an obstacle course of branches before coming to rest on a high branch. The smaller birds in the area had taken notice, and alarm calls of several different species could be heard emanating from various parts of the park; however, no crow alarms went out, and no mob materialized.

After spending a brief moment getting his bearings, the hawk flew again. This time he landed in the upper branches of a very tall fir tree. His new perch gave him an unobstructed view of the surrounding landscape, and he settled in to further assess his situation. On that high branch, out of the reach of cars and humans, and with no crows to concern him, the Cooper's Hawk enjoyed a moment of peace as he made his transition back to a world without cage walls.

Wild animals released between March 23rd and March 31st, 2005:

2 Mallards
1 Cooper's Hawk
1 Rock Pigeon
1 American Robin

36 wild animals have been released since the beginning of 2005.

      All rights reserved. 2005 Progressive Animal Welfare Society