LOOK: Rare White Red-Tailed Hawk Rescued From Oregon Wildfire

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

A rare, white-feathered Red-Tailed hawk has been rescued from a wildfire in Oregon after it showed signs of distress. We get more from this report by KTVL. The hawk was taken to Wildlife Images, which is a rehabilitation center in Merlin, Oregon. This animal happened to be rescued by the Rum Creek fire’s firefighting commander.

“We’re pretty excited to be able to save a bird like this,” said Wildlife Images’ Marketing and Community Relations Manager Ben Maki. He would note that out of the 1,200 animals that the center rehabilitates annually, just one per year will have feathers or fur without pigment like the white hawk. So, Operations Section Chief Jesse Blair happened to find the bird while leaving the Rum Creek fire’s incident command post. What caught his eye? A flash of white in a tree.

Wildlife Images staff did confirm that this white Red-Tailed hawk is considered what they call “leucitic.” This means that it is slightly different from an albino animal. We get more clarity from the Cornell Ornithology Lab. They say that a leucitic bird has some abnormally pigmented feathers. Compare that to an albino bird, which does not produce any melanin, a specific pigment, and they often have red eyes.

White Red-Tailed Hawk Could Not Fly Away

Blair would approach the white hawk quite cautiously. He noticed that it ran away by hopping on the ground instead of taking flight. “The hawk appeared wet and did not appear to be able to fly away as he would have expected,” the Oregon Department of Forestry said in a press release.

It was Blair who would contact Wildlife Images. They, in turn, would send staff members to safely catch the bird. Once that was done, they would bring it back to their clinic. “When the bird was found, there were two wounds, one on its leg, one on its wing,” Maki said. He would go on to say that the Wildlife Images staff was not able to determine where its injuries would come from. They could not say for certain even if the hawk had suffered its injuries due to the Rum Creek fire.

“Right now, as long as there’s no complicating factors, we are cautiously optimistic we’re going to be able to return it to the wild,” Maki said. Right now, the hawk is getting better and progressing in the right direction, he said. Yet if there is any reason that the animal is not able to go back into the wild, then the Wildlife Images staff will take action. They will look for another permanent home for the hawk. Should we get further updates about this animal, then we will past them along in due time.