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PAWS Mailing Address:
PO Box 1037
Lynnwood WA, 98046

PAWS Street Address:
15305 44th Ave W
Lynnwood, WA 98087

May 2006   

Kevin Mack

A Chance for the Future
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

On March 18th, Red-tailed Hawk 06-0246 arrived at the PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center after being found on the ground in Tukwila. Weak and disoriented, the bird had been easily captured by a concerned citizen who noticed her plight. It was not readily apparent what had led to the bird’s condition. When she was examined at PAWS, bruising was found on both her neck and abdomen, and the bird was bleeding from her vent. She was extremely anemic and in shock, and her body temperature was about six degrees below normal. On top of everything else, a well-formed egg could be felt in the bird’s lower abdomen. It was clear that in her weakened state, the hawk would be unable to pass the egg, but the most pressing need was to address the bird’s shock and stabilize her. The egg would have to wait.

For the next three days hawk 06-0246 was given intravenous fluids and supportive care. Her white blood cell count was elevated, so antibiotics were administered to combat any possible infections. Because she was having difficulty digesting solid food, the bird was tube-fed a liquid diet and given medications to assist with digestion. Radiographs were taken and no fractures were found, but the hawk’s well-formed egg was clearly visible on the X-ray films. On March 21st, the hawk was given an IV injection of a blood replacement product to help her while her anemia was resolving. Her oviduct was infused with a lubricating jelly and a warm, moist compress was applied to her abdomen during the procedure. Two days later, the bird appeared to be gaining strength, but she had still not laid her egg.

On March 24th the Red-tailed Hawk was anesthetized and new radiographs were taken. The resulting films showed that her egg had not changed position. Since continued retention of the egg posed a health risk for the bird, the time had come to remove the egg manually. PAWS wildlife veterinarian Dr. John Huckabee and volunteer veterinarian Dr. Mala Erickson again infused the hawk’s oviduct with lubricating jelly. Dr. Erickson then manipulated the egg in an attempt to extract it. The shell collapsed allowing the egg to be removed. The oviduct was then flushed with saline to remove any remaining shell fragments or egg contents.

For several weeks following the removal of the egg, hawk 06-0246 continued to improve. She began eating solid food again and had no further difficulties with digestion. Her anemia began to improve and her strength increased. She was moved into a small outdoor aviary where she regained her ability to fly. A few weeks later, with her white blood cell count back to normal and her anemia completely resolved, it was time for her to return home to Tukwila.

On May 9 h I drove hawk 06-0246 to Fort Dent Park and placed her transport carrier in an open field surrounded by trees. She had been found in an area adjacent to the park, and since she was carrying an egg when she was discovered I assumed that she had a nest and a mate nearby. After making a quick survey to ensure there weren’t any immediate dangers in the area, I opened the door to the transport carrier and stepped back. After a moment’s hesitation the sound of movement came from the carrier and the hawk exited and took flight in one continuous motion. Her wings reached their full three-foot spread and her brilliant rust-colored tail fanned out as she circled off to the left toward a fir tree. A nearby crow gave chase, but abandoned his pursuit when the hawk landed in the thick branches of the fir. For a moment the crow sat close by and protested the hawk's presence with loud caws. He eventually flew away, presumably because no one else in his clan was responding to his battle cry.

The former PAWS patient sat quietly on her perch for several minutes as a variety of bird alarm calls emanated from the vegetation close by. Eventually, she flew out from among the branches and turned east towards a distant stand of tall trees. As she disappeared into the trees, I hoped she was heading toward a waiting mate. She had lost her egg and spent much of the breeding season recovering from her illness, but she was alive, strong and healthy. Although she and her mate would likely raise no young this year, they would now have a chance to try again in the future.

Fifty-five animals were released between April 2nd and May 17th 2006. Thanks to all of you for helping to make these releases possible!

Wildlife Releases: April 2 - May 17, 2006

  • Barn Owl- 2
  • Eastern Cottontail- 9
  • Northern Flicker- 2
  • American Robin- 1
  • Bald Eagle- 1
  • American Crow- 1
  • Pied-billed Grebe- 1
  • Band-tailed Pigeon- 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk- 2
  • Virginia Opossum- 7
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler- 1
  • Swainson's Thrush- 1
  • Eastern Gray Squirrel- 8
  • Virginia Opossum- 17
  • Mountain Beaver- 1

95 wild animals have been released since the beginning of 2006.
Thanks to all of you for helping to make these releases possible!

All rights reserved. 2006 Progressive Animal Welfare Society

A Northwest leader in protecting animals since 1967, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) shelters homeless animals, rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife, and empowers people to demonstrate compassion and respect for animals in their daily lives.