Baby Hawk Rescue in Five Points
Members of the CTC saw these baby hawks in the process of being rescued on Facebook the night of the April wind storm, but were so curious about what happened to them. Here is your update thanks to the GA DNR (May) monthly newsletter, where we found the following article:
Red-shouldered rescue in Athens
Storms topple nest tree, but biologists re-unite hawk family
By Pete Pattavina
Severe storms that tore through the state in late April had Georgians scrambling to clean up broken limbs, patch roofs and reconnect power lines in the aftermath.
But it wasn’t only humans who were reeling. In Athens, fierce winds overturned a huge white oak with a red-shouldered hawk nest high in its limbs, separating the parent birds from their nestlings.
Working to replace a power pole snapped by the fallen tree, a Georgia Power crew found three, week-old hawk nestlings – called eyasses – huddled on the pavement. The workers quickly contacted DNR raptor expert Jim Ozier for advice, while the two adult birds screeched overhead.
Ozier called Steve Holzman, an Athens-based U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and president of theGeorgia Ornithological Society. Holzman and Clark Jones, president of Oconee Rivers Audubon Society, rushed to the site to retrieve the nestlings before nightfall.
The birds were unharmed but hungry, having been separated from their parents for hours. Holzman fed them chunks of raw chicken and, that night, built a wooden nest platform to place near the fallen tree – with the hope of returning the nestlings to their parents early the next day.
“Hawks have a strong urge to respond to the begging calls of their young,” said Ozier, a program manager with DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section. “If you can get the parent birds to find the new nest quickly enough, the parents will not often abandon their young.”
In the morning, Holzman and fellow Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Pete Pattavina found a suitable place for the platform, a tree sheltered from direct sun and in sight of the old nest site. Homeowners Mandy and William Dopson were thrilled to have the nest platform on their property and helped the biologists install it and build a new nest for the young hawks.
With tree removal work still going on nearby, the adult hawks seemed reluctant to return. Holzman and Pattavina came back late that afternoon with a small set of speakers and a YouTube video of nestling red-shoulder hawks begging for food, hoping to draw the adults.
But when Holzman climbed the ladder to check on the nestlings, he saw that the parents had left a dead squirrel in the corner of the nest for the young. Then an adult hawk swooped within 50 feet of his head!
The biologists quickly left the new nest and the nestlings alone, satisfied that the young would be best cared for by their parents.
Update: Photos of the growing hawks, taken by Holzman’s wife, Rachel.
This story confirms the importance of leaving “orphaned” wildlife in their natural environment, if possible.
Before any animal is removed from the wild, it must be determined there is not a parent nearby that can still care for the young animal. (For more: “Orphaned wildlife in Georgia.”) Contrary to popular belief, young birds will not often be abandoned by the mother bird if a person touches them. Most birds do not have a highly-developed sense of smell, but they do have an iron-clad loyalty to their nestlings, so returning the young to their nest is the first course of action.
Pete Pattavina is a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Athens.