Posted by: Wild Instincts | October 2, 2011

Red-tailed Hawk

On 9/2/11, Wild Instincts received a call from a member of law enforcement in a small community nearby. The officer reported a call about a hawk. She said it couldn’t fly well and was in a small tree. We sent one of our rescue drivers to go and retrieve the bird. The rescue itself is another story as many of the rescues turn into their own stories involving mud and bogs and small trees growing into tall giants during the time it takes the rescue driver to arrive on scene.

A short time later, a muddy, disheveled rescue driver presented a female immature red-tailed hawk.

The initial exam revealed swelling in the right elbow possibly from a through & through gunshot wound and what felt like shot pellets in each leg.

Yes. It IS illegal to shoot birds of prey. Thanks for asking.

Red-tailed Hawk

The next day radiographs confirmed a shot pellet in the right leg and one in the left leg. The incident was reported back to law
enforcement and an investigation is on-going.

The arrows point to the shot pellets in the legs

A copper-coated shot pellet from a shot gun was able to be physically manipulated out of the right leg shortly after the radiographs were taken. Surgery was scheduled for three days later to remove the remaining pellet, but just before the bird was anesthetized for the procedure, that pellet was also able to be physically manipulated from the bird’s body.

Copper coated shot pellets removed from legs of red-tailed hawk.

The bird recovered without incident regaining flight and health enough to be released.

On 9/21/11, the bird was returned to the wild. No word on the shooter.


Flying free again.



  1. Wonderful story- I love happy endings!

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