Notes From The Raptor Center Clinic

It is Cooper's hawk city down in the clinic of The Raptor Center. Every time I run downstairs to grab some food for one of the education birds, I see someone working on a young Coop. It makes sense, right now they are learning to fly and hunt and since these hawks have done such a great job of adapting to living with people, they are easily noticed by kind hearted folks. Since adult Coops will sometimes drive songbirds into windows to stun them, young Coops who haven't figured out all the nuances of flight hit quite a few windows this time of year.

Most young red-tailed hawks have been out and hunting for a couple of months, but even they are showing up injured. This young red-tail with massive talons was just admitted and was under going an eye exam and an all over check up.

If you notice this envelope on the tail, that is put on the birds so they won't damage their tail feathers as they are recovering in the clinic cages. Strong, unbroken feathers are just as essential to their survival in the wild as everything else. It would be a shame to heal the raptor's injuries and then send it out with broken tail feathers that would affect it's flight and hunting ability.

Here the red-tail is getting ready to go in for x-ray. Since birds are more relaxed if they cannot see what's going on, the clinic vets put a hood over it's face. This, believe it or not does help birds feel safe and keeps them calm for the x-ray.

This red-tail was chock full of this NASTY smashed up bug. This is a hippoboscid fly (read all about 'em at Hilton Pond) and is one of the down sides of insects that you face if you work with wild birds. They are blood parasites and pretty much all birds have them. They don't really get any benefits from mammals, but that's not to say the flies don't try. They move all herky jerky like a spider, and then fly into your face or hair and crawl around. This one is a little smashed, the vets grab and pop them as they find them on the bird. Eeewww. Ah, the glamorous lifestyle of a raptor vet...popping blood parasites.