April 6th, 2005
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.
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.
Cooper's Hawk 05-0062 exercises his wings in the
PAWS flight pen.
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.
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.
PAWS volunteer Karen Elliott opens the door to
free Cooper's Hawk 05-0062.
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
PAWS wildlife volunteer Karen Elliott did the honors, opening the carrier door to free Cooper's Hawk 05-0062.
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.
The Cooper's Hawk flies free for the first time in
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:
All rights reserved. ©2005 Progressive Animal Welfare Society
1 Cooper's Hawk
1 Rock Pigeon
1 American Robin
36 wild animals have been released since the beginning of 2005.