Update,9:30 a.m., Monday, September 29: Sad news: The Red-tail died over the weekend. "For most of our patients, all we can do is try to turn back the hands of time," said Sheryl Kluth of the Wildlife In Need Center. "For this unfortunate soul, we were unable to do so."
Update, 3:45 p.m., Friday, September 26: I just spoke with a representative from the Wildlife In Need Center. She said the hawk is still alive, and its condition is listed as "extremely guarded." Rehabbers think it may have ingested rat poison after eating a dead rodent. It's being given vitamin K to help thicken its blood, and the center expects to run more tests this weekend. "We have high hopes," she said, "but it may be a while before we know what's going on." I'll report back when I know more.
This morning, colleagues down the hall from me noticed a hawk sitting on the grass outside our building. It hadn't moved much in two hours and didn't fly away when crows mobbed it. They were curious about its behavior and asked me to have a look. It was obviously a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, sporting the tell-tale speckled belly band on an otherwise white breast. I'd never seen a Red-tail sit still for so long, and it appeared to be dozing — odd behavior for the middle of the morning.
I know how to rescue an injured songbird, but a hawk is another story. I called the Elmbrook Humane Society, and they sent Jerusha, a wildlife rescue specialist, to check it out. The hawk was hidden among trees and brush, and it flew when we approached. Initially, I thought it was fine, but then it landed in the grass and then flew again toward the building and hit a window.
The bird then tilted its head, and Jerusha said, "It's got a neurological problem. Something's wrong with its brain." The poor bird turned its head more and fell over on its back, and then flew about 10 feet in the air before twisting its body awkwardly and falling to the ground.
Jerusha grabbed a net, towels, gloves, and a pet carrier. She then walked toward it slowly, flapping a towel in front of her, and talking to it softly. The hawk stood below a bush but let her approach. She tossed a towel, but the bird moved out of the way. The second towel missed, too, but then the Red-tail stepped out into the open a bit more. She took the net, which was attached to a long pole, and eventually slid it over the hawk's head.
Then it was a fairly easy transfer into the pet carrier. Here it is while I carry it to Jerusha's van:
The bird is now on its way to the Wildlife In Need Center, a local wildlife rehabilitation group. I'm hoping for a good outcome. — M.M.
On edit: I've corrected this post because I mistakenly wrote Jerusha's name as Trisha. I'm sorry for the error.