Soaring again, against all odds – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

A red-tailed hawk returns to the wild near the Upper Table Rock trailhead after Wildlife Images of Grants Pass rehabilitated the animal for a gunshot wound last month. [Mail Tribune / Nick Morgan]

This injured hawk is one of 12 wild birds that were shot into the Grants Pass Wildlife Image Education and Rehabilitation Center this year. The animal was brought in on October 19 and returned to the wild on Saturday. [Wildlife Images photo]

Red-tailed hawk groomed for gunshot wounds is back in the wild

After successfully passing veterinary tests, a red-tailed hawk found shot down last month at Central Point has made a full recovery.

Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center released the bird of prey back into the wild on Saturday morning at the Upper Table Rock Road trailhead near Central Point.

The hawk came to the nonprofit Grants Pass on October 19, according to Jen Osburn-Eliot, head of animal services at the nonprofit Grants Pass. The hawk – she thinks it’s a male but isn’t sure – made one of the fastest recoveries she’s seen for a gunshot wounded wild bird.

The bullet hit the bird’s outer wing. Wildlife vets removed a fragment of muscle tissue earlier this month and left another fragment to heal around the bones.

Osburn-Eliot described the trajectory of the bullet and the way the fragments hit the animal as “ideal, as far as the shot can go.”

“It was actually the most ideal possibility I have ever seen,” said Osburn-Elliot. “We always want the birds to heal quickly and manage to relax, and the ideal window is four weeks – it’s four weeks.”

“He had no delay in his recovery,” added Osburn-Eliot.

Only one of the two bones in the bird’s outer wing was fractured by the gunshot. The vets tied the wing by wrapping it on itself and stabilized it against the bird’s body for about two weeks.

After the bone healed, Wildlife Images used physical therapy to extend the braced wing and regularly massaged it to ensure proper range of motion.

To rebuild its muscles, Wildlife Images moved the falcon to a small outdoor enclosure “with lots of perches in it.”

“To get on a perch, he had to work to get up and build those muscles,” Osburn-Eliot said.

The hawk moved to a mid-sized outdoor enclosure last week and moved to Wildlife Images’ “absolute largest enclosure” on Friday, where he insisted on staying on top.

“He decided to fly away and then hang on to the ceiling,” Osburn-Eliot said, adding that they needed a net to knock the bird down.

Osburn-Eliot and staff member Kaitlyn Scheffler opened the transporter. After a few minutes of gentle cuddling, the hawk flew away.

The hawk immediately chose a perch on top of a tree about 20 meters away, and then got into a fight with an American Kestrel. Osburn-Eliot and Scheffler were delighted and relieved to see the animal getting along so quickly.

“That’s why we do it, and it’s so good,” Scheffler said.

The result is rare, according to Osburn-Eliot. In 2019, Wildlife Images treated two falcons with similar injuries. Neither has succeeded.

On Saturday, the animal is one of 12 wild birds brought to the association with gunshot wounds this year – two gunshot birds arrived last week – and one of only two this year to survive long enough. to be rehabilitated.

Contact web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @MTwebeditor.

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Jennifer R. Strohm