Oct 29, 2011

Entrapped hawks

This week we had two emergencies involving hawks that were trapped inside manmade structures. Unfortunately, it's not THAT uncommon a situation.

Accipiters, like the Cooper's hawk, can wind up inside buildings during their pursuit of small birds. Once inside, they instinctively head upward - often to the highest peak possible. Windows and skylights disorient and confuse the birds even further.

In some situations, it's possible for a hawk to find its way out - but it's very risky to delay a rescue. These high strung birds cannot last long - a few days, at the most, until they have exhausted themselves by flying around, looking for a way out, hitting against the ceiling and against panes of glass.

We lost a bird to this earlier in the week - a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk. 

The bird was first observed Monday afternoon at the North Berkeley BART Station. It was perched high up, in the tallest part of the building - a glass dome where the temperature during the day can become very high. 

Sadly, by the time a team of rescuers arrived, it was weak and in bad shape. It did not survive.

A second hawk - a juvenile Cooper's hawk, wound up inside the Whisman Sport Center gymnasium in Mountain View, CA, with a 45' high ceiling!

It was first observed Tuesday. We were alerted Thursday. No other entity in the area was able to respond - and we were only able to make the hour-long trek Friday morning. 

We knew the bird would be hungry and the best way to catch the bird would be to lure it into a trap. We set a spring-loaded box trap and a bal-chatri. We'd no more turned our backs after setting the devices, when he dove in.

This was our first time using this trap, but it worked pretty well. We need to make a few modifications, but it felt good to put the contraption to good use. You see, it was once used to trap and kill raptors. Authorities confiscated it as evidence - part of a sting operation. It was donated to WildRescue this year.

The hawk was driven immediately to the Peninsula Humane Society Wildlife Center, just down the street, where it received immediate care for dehydration. It was in good shape and was set free the next morning.

The doves employed in this operation have been adopted into a forever-home where they can live out their lives in a large aviary. Please read our live animal policy below:
When attempting to rescue a wild animal that can only be captured using live bait as a lure, we face a secondary dilemma - how to employ the service of a live animal while maintaining the same concern for its welfare as we do for the animal we intend to capture. Below is WildRescue's policy on use of live animals in trapping exercises. 
1) During trapping exercises, WildRescue will employ the service of animals that are maintained in forever-homes. 
2) These animals, birds and small mammals, will be: a) personal pets; b) individuals that were spared euthanasia through a rehabilitation center; either because they are handicapped or nonnative - such as starlings, eurasian doves, pigeons, domestic or wild rats. 
3) Service periods will be limited - no individual animal will be placed in service two days in a row. 
4) During exercises, when not in service, animals will be provided adequate housing with appropriate food and water available at all times. 
5) All precautions will be taken to ensure animals are not physically harmed. If one is accidentally injured,it will be provided immediate medical attention.

We value any constructive feedback on our policies and procedures. 

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