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Injured hawk restored to health

Holly Atchison

An injured hawk was nursed back to health and released with the help of Father John Corona of St. Gall Catholic Church and Nancee Goldwater of Douglas County Animal Control.

The hawk was found at the church by Corona.

“I think it was a couple of months ago, I got out of my car, and I was walking up to the church entrance and I said ‘Oh my God, is that a hawk?’ It was right by the walkway,” he said. “It didn’t fly away. I noticed it was sick so I called up Nancee and told her we had what seemed to be a sick hawk.

“She came and picked up the hawk, and she took it and nursed it back to health.”

Goldwater said the small bird, a red-tailed hawk, was starving when she found it.

“She was a young fledgling hawk and had apparently left her nest early and had not been able to fend for herself,” she said.

The hawk was taken to the wildlife infirmary and given minerals and vitamins. Here, she learned to fly and was taught to hunt live mice.

“Once she was able to recognize and consume the live mice, she was ready to be released,” she said.

Goldwater called Corona a few weeks ago and told him the bird was ready to be released and it should be freed in the area where it was found.

“We try to let them go fairly closely by where they were picked up if it’s a safe hunting area to keep the ecology balanced,” she said.

On a recent Sunday, Corona invited everyone at the 10:30 a.m. Mass to walk outside and witness the release of the bird.

“The nice thing about it was it was nursed back to health and it has been released,” he said. “It was good for the people and our children to see that.

“It’s an animal and you’re concerned about birds and animals as part of God’s creation. We knew it was sick and needed some help.”

Goldwater said when the hawks are set free, the only way to identify them is by the pictures taken at the infirmary because they are not tagged when they are released.

“Each one actually has a slightly different chest pattern and the tail feathers have different patterns so if she was spotted soon after she was released, we’d be able to recognize her.”

Goldwater said there are quite a few of these hawks in the area.

“This is one of the areas where they tend to migrate, and a lot build their nests in the area as long as they have a free open space. They like the open grass areas and alfalfa fields where they can hunt. They help keep the rodent population down.

“We usually get quite a few (injured) hawks from this area. They quite often get down to where it’s not safe for them to be.”