So yesterday morning I was blogging. A "shout out" came out from TWC regarding a Red-tailed Hawk that could use a ride to get her back to her home. A part of me was hesitant at first because the location was Coronation Park, which is a lake park just east of Ontario Place. It's really not that far from our house but the thought of heading towards downtown Toronto was a little intimidating for me even though I still had more than 3 hours to go before I started work. In the end, I said "yes" to helping. One, it's not very often I get to release a large bird like a Hawk. Second, as fall migration winds down, the opportunities to release birds drastically reduces.
It was an easy drive down to the park. The Hawk was very calm the whole way. I even had no problem finding parking and did not mind having to pay.
I scoped out the area. Definitely a nice spot for a Hawk to reside. It was weird to me seeing how close all those lake front condos were though... right across Lakeshore Blvd!
The condos are the reason the Hawk ended up going into Toronto Wildlife. The glass balconies are confusing to birds. If they get up on someone's balcony, like a Hawk in this case, who was possibly going after a smaller bird. The Hawk drops down to the floor of the balcony and suddenly it feels trapped. It can see out to the world but that glass holds them back. The bird panics, thrashes around about the balcony, hitting the glass wall, perhaps also hitting the wall of the condo, any furniture, etc. Of course if the bird does not panic and thinks things through, it can jump up to the rail of the balcony and then fly off. Smaller birds can easily fly under the glass barrier though. We've helped a few young Peregrine Falcons at our Etobicoke nest site who have gotten into similar situations.
Young Peregrine Falcon we rescued from a balcony, June 2017.
End result for this Hawk, no injuries, but it was nice of the finder to catch the bird and bring her in for assessment anyway (just in case). And in case you are wondering, the little Peregrine was a-okay too.
After picking out a spot to lug the large carrier to, I scoped out for off leash dogs. Yes, they were about, one was chasing Squirrels up the trees and I asked the woman to please leash her dog, explaining what I was about to do. She refused but did take her dog well away. This prompted me to move the carrier further back and wait a little longer until they were out of sight. Thankfully no other off leash dogs appeared.
I stand beside the carrier, unzip the door, and try to pull it open but there is some force holding it back. I have a peek inside and the Hawk is on it's back, with it's feet pointed at the door, talons on the one foot are holding onto the door. This is a defensive position with birds of prey. "Come at me bro! I will mess you up!" is basically what it means.
I back off, stand to the side again and wait a minute. I sense movement inside. The Hawk has let go of the door and is now standing up. Well, that's my guess at the moment since I cannot see within. I reach around, let a little light in by moving the door a bit and next thing I know is the bird is coming out. No hesitation now. The bird knows that freedom is beyond the confines of the carrier. Two steps out the door, touching the grass and the bird quickly takes flight, landing in a nearby tree. All the Squirrels surrounding us start their stress calls.
Can you find the Hawk in this un-cropped photo?
The Hawk looks around for a few minutes, then takes flight to another tree. This scenario is repeated 4 or 5 more times. I take the carrier back to the truck, get my big lens and watch her for the next 15 to 20 minutes.
It was great to see this bird come to the realization that not only was she free, but she was back to her home. She flew harder and faster, zipping through the trees like she knew every single one of them, and she began to scream that famous Red-tailed Hawk sound. You know the sound of buzzards in the desert in the movies and TV shows... that's actually the call of a Red-tail and not Buzzards.
She flew to her old nest and sat there momentarily screeching some more. Then flew back out to the treed area.
I like to think she was rejoicing to her freedom. I suspect she may have also been calling for her mate too.
As much as I wanted to stick around and watch her some more, I had to get back home and get ready for work.
Releasing any bird or animal is a wonderful experience. But when I take one back to it's home, it really kicks the heart warming, good for the soul feeling up a few notches. It doesn't have to be a big sexy beast like this Red-tailed Hawk. I get the same good vibe from taking any Pigeon back to it's flock.
Pigeon release in Port Credit last winter. One of the white birds on the right is the bird I released.
When a Pigeon goes home, I watch it coo up a storm to it's buddies, seemingly telling them all about it's adventures abroad. The bird is so excited, walks around in circles and doesn't stop talking. You can see that in the video here of our friend "Rehab", one of the Jerseys, after his release back here with his flock 4 months ago. Yes, I still see him every day.
Time to publish this and get back to the other blog I was working on. I hope you enjoyed this tale. It seems Molly is quite enthralled by it.