ECC Helps Ailing Red-tailed Hawk on Christmas

Empty Cages Collective is always busy – even on December 25th, Christmas day. We were called by staff at Manhattan’s Animal Care & Control (ACC) to assist with an injured Red-tailed Hawk who they didn’t know how to handle properly. ECC volunteers quickly flew into action to pick up the ailing bird and transport her to a Federally-licensed raptor rehabilitator in Long Island. When we arrived at ACC, we realized they were housing the debilitated bird inappropriately (wire cages), so we quickly moved her into a hard, covered animal carrier. Injured and orphaned wild birds should never be transported or kept in wire cages because they can do severe damage to their feathers and faces which impedes their ability to be eventually released. For tips on how to handle injured hawks, in case you should ever encounter one, check out the tips offered by The Raptor Trust, Hawk Haven, or the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center. In any case, within a few minutes at ACC, ECC volunteers were on their way to get the young hawk some help!

Injured raptors should never be kept in wire cages like the bird we transported from ACC

After transporting the juvenile red-tailed hawk to a raptor rehabilitator, a ECC volunteer quickly drafted a letter to officials at ACC asking, in part: “Can a policy be instituted for medical staff and everyone at ACC handling wild birds that the birds are kept in solid boxes or carriers, and are kept warm, dark and quiet until they are transported to rehabilitators or veterinarians? A wild bird’s chances of rehabilitation and release back into his or her habitat should be improved by his or her run-in with ACC, not impeded. I have included a picture of the hawk as I found her – if you look closely enough you can see her tail feathers becoming ragged from rubbing against and through the cage.” We have been given assurances that distressed raptors will be handled better in the future.

The better news is, the Red-tailed Hawk is likely to recover and will eventually be released back into the wild where she belongs!

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