Wildlife Officials Release Red-Tailed Hawk After Second Rescue

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Every year, the PAWS organization treats over 5,000 injured animals. They don’t normally see the same animal twice. However, last month, they had a repeat customer: a red-tailed hawk.

“To have the same bird back again … I’m just like, ‘we know you!,’” said PAWS CEO Heidi Wills Yamada about the hawk.

Yamada and others at PAWS treated the red-tailed hawk in 2020. The bird became injured during a thunderstorm in Seattle that year.

Last month, they were asked to help that same hawk again after Tom Johnston found it on his lawn. The hawk was struggling to move.

“I was pretty worried that he wasn’t going to make it,” said Johnston.

He then called over to PAWS. Johnston helped capture and transport the hawk for medical attention. The hawk had a leg fracture; it required surgery and 43 days of rehab.

On Saturday, the hawk was re-released into the wild. A crowd gathered and wached at a Seattle park, including Johnston.

“It’s awesome. I’m so happy that he could recover and get released,” said Johnston.

Those who treated the hawk say they hope it’s the last time they’ll see him.

“No more visits. We’ve had enough visits from this one,” said Jeff Brown, a wildlife naturalist at PAWS.

PAWS stands for the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, and they say their mission is “helping cats, dogs and wild animals go home and thrive – whether home is the family room or the forest.”

They carry out their mission by rehabilitating orphaned and injured wildlife. They also shelter and adopt homeless pets and they educate the community to “inspire compassionate action for animals.”

Red-tailed Hawks Are Common Throughout North America

The organization was founded in 1967. PAWS has united more than 130,000 cats and dogs with loving families. They’ve also cared for more than 140,000 sick, injured and orphaned wild animals.

Red-tailed hawks are commonly found across the United States. These large raptors can sport up to a 50-inch wingspan. However, they’re not the largest hawk species in North America.

That distinction belongs to the ferruginous hawk. However, red-tails are not far behind as only the rough-legged hawk sits between them in size.

Red-tails are big enough to consider most other birds and a wide variety of mammals as prey. In fact, they’ll go after just about any animal close to their size—bigger or smaller.

Typical prey, however, includes rabbits, squirrels, and lots of songbirds. Red-tails typically try to use their girth to kill such prey on impact after swooping down at a high speed. They aim to be first-strike predators.

Either way, their incredibly sharp talons and beak perform plenty of damage to the prey they capture, like the duckling from the video above.