Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hawk of the Highway

The Barred Owl is the most common bird we admit to the Kathryn G. Favre wildlife hospital.

Next in line is the Red-tail Hawk.  We receive around a hundred per year.  Of this number, the majority have been hit by cars.  You may have seen the Red-tail Hawk hunting near a roadside, perched on fence posts and telephone poles.  They use their excellent eyesight to find mice, rats and rabbits in the grassy areas near the road.  These hunters are sometimes struck by vehicles as they swoop down to catch their prey. 

Volunteer veterinarian Dr. Stacey Schaeffer and Sanctuary Manager Joe Hoffmann examine a newly admitted hawk (photo: Pat McGrath)

Red-tail hawks are very common and they are very helpful to us.  Many farmers have told me stories of Red-tail Hawks accompanying them as they drive their tractor or combine in their fields.  As the tractor spooks the rodents out of the crops, the hawk captures them for its dinner and to feed its family. 

Many people are unaware of the wild kingdom outside their car windows.  Sometimes family, friends and I count hawks along the road just to make the time fly as we travel.  It is good to realize there is more than just traffic out there. 

Distracted driving was invented by bird watchers.  It might not hurt if we were all more aware of our surroundings while driving, so we will not have an accident.  We might just save ourselves, our world, and a few hawks along the way.

Submitted by Joe Hoffmann, WBS Sanctuary Manager

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