(This story was first published in the March 20, 2014 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
By Katy Savage, Standard Staff
QUECHEE — A red-tailed hawk that was suffering from starvation was rescued from the center of the road on Interstate 91.
The hawk, found by Zach Emond of Claremont, N.H., and taken to Quechee’s Vermont Institute of Natural Science Sunday, was doing well Monday, according to VINS Wildlife Services Manager Sara Eisenhauer.
“The bird still has a lot of feistiness to it, which is a good sign,” she said. “That to me indicates that the bird is not on death’s doorstep.”
Emond was on his way home from snowmobiling with friends in the St. Johnsbury area when he saw the bird wandering in the middle of the road, near a dead rabbit. It was holding up about five cars that swerved to avoid it, he said.
“We thought it was an eagle at first because it was so huge,” Emond said.
Emond wrapped the bird in his jacket and carried it to his truck.
“It didn’t seem like anybody else was going to do anything,” he said.
The hawk laid in the backseat of his car for about an hour-and-a-half before arriving at the VINS. Emond said the bird didn’t move the entire trip and appeared to be stunned.
It didn’t show any trauma from getting hit by a vehicle once it arrived at VINS, according to Eisenhauer.
“Shock can also be caused from malnutrition…and cold because if there’s no meat on their bones they can’t thermo-regulate,” Eisenhauer said.
The hawk was dehydrated and had internal parasites, Eisenhauer said.
“When their body and their immunity is compromised, the normal level of parasites they have will overcome their system,” she said.
New Hampshire Fish and Game didn’t respond to Emond’s initial call.
The department doesn’t often respond to Vermont calls — especially if it doesn’t have staff, according to Lt. James Goss. Vermont Fish and Wildlife Director of Wildlife Mark Scott said the agency would have brought the bird to a vet or wildlife rehabilitator.
The hawk has been responsive to treatment so far, Eisenhauer said. It’s begun eating solid foods and is now willingly eating on its own. Over the coming days, the bird will be transported to an outdoor enclosure to make sure it can still fly.
“There are a lot of stages that have to happen before I can truly say that it’s a releasable bird,” Eisenhauer said.
Emond plans to attend the release, which may be in 2-3 weeks.
“It’s definitely aggressive, which is to be expected it’s a wild bird,” Eisenhauer said. “It definitely holds its own very well and that’s good. We want it to be like that…its will to survive is still really strong.”
Eisenhauer said it’s common for members of the public to find injured raptors along roadside and bring them to VINS.
“It’s very helpful for us, since we do not have an emergency team to send out to capture birds,” Eisenhauer said.
She encourages people to call VINS or Vermont Fish and Wildlife before attempting to capture a wild animal.
VINS has seen other red-tailed hawks before, but those have been older birds that haven’t made it. Eisenhauer doesn’t know the age of this hawk, but she thinks the prognosis is good.