Swainson's hawk res­cued by res­i­dent

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

Last week an acreage owner had a unique guest, who, after in­vited, de­cided to stick around a cou­ple days.

Tony Keller lives near Mun­son and last week along Town­ship road 30-0, he spot­ted a small fal­con-like bird that ap­peared to be a fledg­ling hawk on the road. “I was driv­ing down the road and he was just sit­ting there,” said Keller. “I slowed down be­cause I thought he would take off and get out of the way of the car, but he hob­bled down into the ditch. So I slowed down, got out, picked him up from the ditch, and made sure he wasn’t all busted up, put it in the pas­sen­ger seat of the car and took him home.”

The bird was miss­ing feath­ers from the top of its head and ap­peared to be some­what in­jured.

After he took the bird home, he tried to feed it some meat and used an in­fant medicine sy­ringe to give it some fluid. Tony left the bird alone to ex­plore and it hopped up into a tree. The next morn­ing the bird ap­peared to be gone.

“But I found him hid­ing out over by my shop,” said Keller.

He brought the bird closer to his house to keep it from any wild an­i­mals in the area and called the Medicine River Wildlife Cen­tre.

“He hob­bled around and called out a few times. He could see his buddies fly­ing around above him but no­body would come and see him,” chuck­les Keller.

Keller gave him some more nour­ish­ment and the bird spent the next night in the shop and the day after, he met a staff mem­ber of the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre in Three Hills and handed the bird over. Carol Kelly, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Medicine River Wildlife Cen­tre ex­plains the cen­tre is a wildlife hospi­tal with goal of re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing an­i­mals and then re­leas­ing them back into the wild. It is also an ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre. “What we do is look at the an­i­mal, iden­tify what is wrong with it. In most cases at this time of year most in­jured hawks have been hit by cars, se­condly elec­tro­cuted on power lines or thirdly in­jured by barbed wire,” Kelly said. “We’ll de­cide on treat­ment ac­cord­ing to that and if it im­proves, is strong and healthy and ready to re­lease, we’ll do that.”

She said of­ten the an­i­mals do not sta­bi­lize and per­ish while they are be­ing treated, or they are too in­jured to treat and are hu­manely put down. Keller hopes he will cross paths with the bird again. “If he does re­cover, I hope they bring him back down here. These birds are do­ing a pretty good job of keep­ing the go­pher and mice away,” said Keller.

Kelly says this might not be pos­si­ble.

“If it is a baby Swainson’s hawk like we be­lieve it is, they all leave Al­berta by Septem­ber. By the time this one re­cov­ers from its in­juries and it is strong and ready to go, hope­fully it will be ready to catch the mi­gra­tion, and leave with Swain

son’s hawks. At that point it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter where you re­lease it be­cause they are all leav­ing any­way.” It’s hard to say if it will ever re­turn. “Whether that par­tic­u­lar bird might mi­grate back to this area next year is any­body’s guess,” said Kelly. “The adults will very likely re­turn to the same ter­ri­tory if they were suc­cess­ful there, whereas the ba­bies can dis­perse.” She said that in this case it ap­pears the right thing for the an­i­mal was done. “If it is clearly in­jured we rec­om­mend putting it into a small card­board box, keep it dark, warm and quiet and con­tact the cen­tre,” she said. Kelly said there are cases when it is not so clear, how­ever tech­nol­ogy can help. With so many car­ry­ing a smart phone with a cam­era, a phone call and a cou­ple of pho­tos can help.

“Be­fore you dis­turb an an­i­mal, you can talk to some­one,” she said.


Tony Keller found this Swainson's hawk on the side turned it over to officials who hope it'll re­cover in of the road near Mun­son last week. After car­ing for time for the Septem­ber mi­gra­tions. an­i­mal, which was likely hit by a ve­hi­cle, the Keller's

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