Red-tailed hawks are large and formidable predators. They are one of the largest predatory birds in North America and they are the most commonly seen of all the raptors. Farmers love these birds since they play an important role in keeping rodents and pest populations in check. These magnificent birds can be seen perched on fences, telephone poles and in trees, scanning the fields for prey. They are enormous birds that can reach 60cm in length (2 feet) and have a wingspan of 150cm (nearly 5 feet). This hawk was found injured by a farmer, Peter, who was driving his truck along the fence line on his farm. The hawk seemed stunned or possibly injured by a car. Peter is known for being kind enough to give you the shirt off his back, and that is exactly what he did for this injured creature. He used his shirt to capture the hawk and he also knew enough to wear heavy gloves. But despite his caution, the hawk's razor sharp talons pierced the leather and injured Peter's hand. He was determined to get the poor bird some help and he took it to the farmhouse nearby. Dr. Kristy, a country veterinarian who also works with wildlife was only minutes away. She came straight over when called. She examined the hawk and determined that the left wing was seriously injured. She reached out to Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge which was located an hour and a half away. They not only agreed to take the bird, but they kept their doors open well past closing to help. Dr. Kristy's son, Cameron delivered the bird and filled out a report. He also has a lot of experience with wildlife and he was delighted to do what he could for this beautiful animal. Within minutes of arrival, Shades of Hope staff had diagnosed the injury as a fractured humerus in the left wing. It would require a pin to be placed surgically, and many weeks of care as it healed. The bird will need help to learn to use the wing again so it can be returned to the area where it was found. Not all injured wild animals survive, but rehab and treatment centers like these are the best chance an injured animal has. These staff are experts on medical care, diet, and animal behavior. Successful treatment is made possible due to their extreme dedication. Red-tailed hawks are amazing animals. In flight, they are breath taking and impressive. They can reach speeds of 60km/h (40mph) on level flight and up to to 190km/h (120mph) on steep dive. They can hover or glide gracefully on the air currents. One of the most impressive features of a red-tailed hawk is their keen vision. Eight times as powerful as a human's vison, they are able to see a mouse on the ground while they are 30m (100 feet) above. These hawks would be able to focus on a rabbit or other animal approximately 3km (2 miles) in the distance. Hawks are also extremely intelligent and they have been found to have the capability of recognizing and distinguishing one human from another based on facial features. When this hawk makes its way back to the farm where it was found, perhaps it will actually remember the kind farmer who gave it the shirt off his back. Please visit shadesofhope.ca to see the incredible work that they do. The refuge is grateful for any financial support that is provided.
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