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Willowbrook Releases Red-Tailed Hawk

We’ve had some unfortunate news this week in losing a bald eagle after it was admitted to Willowbrook Wildlife Center. But we also have some good news to share: We’ve released a red-tailed hawk days later! Like the eagle, this bird has been treated by Willowbrook once before. The male juvenile first came into Willowbrook in mid-July after it was taken in by Fox Valley Wildlife Center. This transfer allowed the bird to exercise in our center’s raptor flight facility and hunt live prey; he fattened up and was released a short time later.

But he found his way back to Willowbrook on Sept. 20! Center volunteer Hans Lim, who also gives his time to the Chicago Bird Collission Monitors, rescued the bird after it collided with a building’s window at an office in Schaumburg. Willowbrook examined the hawk and recognized the band on its leg. On this occasion, we found the bird was generally in good condition and likely just stunned. He had no broken bones and only broken feathers. The bird moved to the flight facility to regain his strength and recuperate from the collision for a few weeks.

Naturalist Stephanie Touzalin says that it’s not uncommon for young raptors to hit glass chasing after prey. “Like smaller songbirds who often collide with windows, raptors — especially juveniles — may hit the glass because they may not see it. Trees and sky reflect back in a window’s exterior, so birds think they can fly through,” she says. “He’s also just a juvenile, which means he’s still learning even how to hunt.”

According to Touzalin, Lim is one of the most reliable and helpful volunteers at the center. “He’s always willing to go out on bird and other wild animal-related rescues.” And what he may have found difficult to do at first to do in the field, he’s now embraced after volunteering in wildlife rehabilitation for more than five years. Today, he’s invested in his own pair of leather gloves and even made it a habit to carry traveling crates should he happen upon an animal that requires assistance — even outside his time at Willowbrook Wildlife Center!

Success stories happen every day in our DuPage forest preserves. Although this hawk may be a common species to our forest preserves and DuPage surrounding counties, quite unlike the eagle, he serves as one of our goodwill ambassadors to remind us of the work our center performs in rehabilitating wildlife every day.


 

 
Reflective glass is a danger for raptors and other birds. Photo courtesy of Hans Lim
The feather dander left behind by a juvenile hawk shows just how hard he hit the window. Photo courtesy of Hans Lim
The juvenile hawk travels to Willowbrook for treatment. Photo courtesy of Hans Lim
Volunteer Hans Lim celebrates the release of the young hawk. Photo courtesy of Mike Shimer
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