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Injured hawk takes to the sky after successful rehab

Jacob Tierney

After two months of bed rest, an injured red-tailed hawk again took to the skies Monday over Western Pennsylvania.

A man found the hawk in December lying in the street in Ohio Township and rescued it, bringing it to Wildlife Works animal rehabilitation facility in Youngwood.

The cause of the bird’s injuries was unclear.

“We don’t actually know what happened to her,” Wildlife Works office manager Monica Leuthold said. “There were no outward injuries.”

She suspects the hawk may have been “bumped” by a car, suffering muscle damage but no broken bones.

Wildlife Works regularly brings in large birds as patients — seven raptors so far in 2019. The large birds often have run-ins with cars.

“It probably has a lot to do with roadkill,” Leuthold said. “It’s an easy meal.”

The hawk released Monday is a fairly typical case, though not all end so successfully. Some succumb to their injuries. Many in 2018 were felled by West Nile virus, Leuthold said.

Monday’s release was the end result of a typical successful rehabilitation.

The hawk was brought to Wildlife Works in an animal carrier with a heating pad to keep it warm. It was given a full examination, then put on bed rest in an indoor pen until it was strong enough to be moved outside.

Eventually, the hawk was moved to Wildlife Works’ raptor barn, a facility with enough room for large birds to stretch their wings, practice flying and get their strength back. The hawk was hand-fed in the early stages of its recovery, but munched on mice and rats once it moved to the barn.

It doesn’t have a name, and Wildlife Works volunteers aren’t even sure of its gender, though Leuthold refers to it as female.

“You don’t want to go around naming your patients, because then you’ll get attached to them,” she said.

It hasn’t yet developed the red tail its species is known for, which means it is a juvenile, less than 3 years old.

On Monday, volunteers trekked from Youngwood to Ohio Township, near where the injured hawk was discovered.

Hawks are territorial, so it’s best to release them near their turf, Leuthold said.

She said watching any animal go free is her favorite part of working with Wildlife Works.

“The release is always the best part,” she said. “Even if it’s just a turtle, walking slowly away.”

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter @Soolseem.


737131gtrhawkrelease006021219
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
After weeks of rehab at Wildlife Works Inc. in Youngwood, a red tail hawk is re-released behind Home Depot in Ben Avon Heights, on Monday, on Feb. 11, 2019. The hawk was found along Rt. 279 near Mt. Nebo Road, with minor injuries, and after a successful rehabilitation was released into the woods in Ben Avon Heights, where it was believed to be its territory.
737131gtrhawkrelease002021219
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Brian Martz, 49, of Cranberry Twp., a volunteer with Wildlife Works Inc. in Youngwood, prepares to release a rehabilitated red tail hawk behind Home Depot in Ben Avon Heights, on Monday, on Feb. 11, 2019. The hawk was found along Rt. 279 near Mt. Nebo Road, with minor injuries, and after a successful rehabilitation was released into the woods in Ben Avon Heights, where it was believed to be its territory.
737131gtrhawkrelease005021219
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
After weeks of rehab at Wildlife Works Inc. in Youngwood, a red tail hawk is re-released behind Home Depot in Ben Avon Heights, on Monday, on Feb. 11, 2019. The hawk was found along Rt. 279 near Mt. Nebo Road, with minor injuries, and after a successful rehabilitation was released into the woods in Ben Avon Heights, where it was believed to be its territory.
737131gtrhawkrelease001021219
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
A red tail hawk during rehab at Wildlife Works Inc. in Youngwood, on Friday, on Feb. 8, 2019. The hawk was found along Rt. 279 near Mt. Nebo Road, with minor injuries, and after a successful rehabilitation was released into the woods in Ben Avon Heights, where it was believed to be its territory.
737131gtrhawkrelease003021219
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Brian Martz, 49, of Cranberry Twp., a volunteer with Wildlife Works Inc. in Youngwood, prepares to release a rehabilitated red tail hawk behind Home Depot in Ben Avon Heights, on Monday, on Feb. 11, 2019. The hawk was found along Rt. 279 near Mt. Nebo Road, with minor injuries, and after a successful rehabilitation was released into the woods in Ben Avon Heights, where it was believed to be its territory.
737131gtrhawkrelease004021219
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
After weeks of rehab at Wildlife Works Inc. in Youngwood, a red tail hawk is re-released behind Home Depot in Ben Avon Heights, on Monday, on Feb. 11, 2019. The hawk was found along Rt. 279 near Mt. Nebo Road, with minor injuries, and after a successful rehabilitation was released into the woods in Ben Avon Heights, where it was believed to be its territory.