Red-Tailed Hawk Release: SB Wildlife Care Network’s Patient of the Week

Source: Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network

Patient #5 of this year: Red-tailed Hawk

Status: Released

This red-tailed hawk was brought to Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network on New Years Day. A Santa Barbara resident found this hawk on the ground and quickly called the SBWCN helpline. Once the hawk was in care at the Wildlife Care Center, the staff was quick to examine it for any injuries or issues. They found that this hawk was severely emaciated, anemic, and was displaying signs of torticollis – a twisting of the head and neck. Staff proceeded to administer fluids, prescribe medication, and set the hawk up in the ICU where it could be monitored closely. 

The hawk began to slowly improve in care. It gained weight steadily and quickly graduated from the ICU to a small flight enclosure, and then a medium enclosure, before moving to the largest pre-release flight enclosure at the center after just eleven days. After lots of food, plenty of time to practice flying, and 19 total days in care, this red-tailed hawk got the stamp of approval from Dr. Berkowitz for release.

Patient #5 was caught (not an easy job in a 1,578 square foot aviary!) and put in a carrier for the final time. After a short journey, this red-tailed hawk was released at Rocky Nook Park in Santa Barbara!

Some riveting red-tailed hawk facts: 

-Red-tailed hawks have incredible eyes! Their eyes have a third eyelid, called a nictating membrane, that is semi-transparent and moves side-to-side to keep the eye clean and moist. 
-The mating ritual of red-tailed hawks can be dangerous. Males and females will circle each other in the air and will sometimes lock talons and plunge towards the ground. 
-Most of the eagle screeches that you hear in movies are actually red-tailed hawks! Their screech is very distinct and raspy, and movie producers thought it sounded better for all birds of prey. 
Even though patient #5 was released, there is still work to be done. SBWCN is still caring for four red-tailed hawks. You can help these red-tailed hawks and hundreds of other animals get their second chance at a wild life by going to


Written by SBWCN

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