March 9, 2021
A Happy Ending For Two Long Distance Patients
The stories of two Red-shouldered Hawks who came to us in January show just how far our Northern California community and your Bird Rescue Center will go—literally and figuratively— for the birds in our care.

Read on for more details....

Also below is an important update regarding the Salmonellosis outbreak in our area. The danger is still very real so please do not let up on any of the measures we have recommended to help contain the spread of this deadly bacterial infection.
Red-shouldered Hawk #48, Mendocino County
On Sunday, January 10th, we received one of our very first "long-distance" patients of 2021: A Red-shouldered Hawk (RSHA) from Elk, CA. The bird was found along Hwy 128 near the Navarro River Redwoods State Park, roughly two hours north of The Bird Rescue Center. Upon arrival, the hawk was weak, dehydrated, and dirty. We identified multiple injuries to the legs and face, including punctures, abrasions, lacerations, and extensive bruising. There was also a thick layer of road grime over most of the bird and the entire tail wasliterallybroken to bits. It was a small miracle there were no active fractures!

We started with supportive care—antibiotics, medications for pain and inflammation and four days of supplemental heat, fluid therapy, and assisted feedings. During this period, we performed thorough daily examinations, treated all the wounds, and ran diagnostics including fecal testing and bloodwork. Since the fecal testing came back positive indicating an internal parasite infection, we added anti-parasitics to the medication roster as well.
Once stable, we bathed the hawk to clean the road grime from the feathers. Our patient remained on cage rest for another full week before we began tapering off medications and slowly increasing activity. After a week and a half indoors, the hawk was clean and healed enough to start graduating from our small indoor enclosures to our largest outdoor aviary.

Over the next two and a half weeks, we made the above-mentioned housing transitions, conducted flight assessments, and scheduled time for flight conditioning.

During this time it was also necessary for our hawk to re-waterproof his feathers. While bathing was essential to clean off all the grime, it also stripped away the protective oil layer. Birds produce an oil substance from their oil or preen gland (located just above their tail and hidden underneath feathers). When they preen they take that oil with their beak and spread it over their feathers making them waterproof and keeping them flexible. The oil coating also helps with insulation and protection against pests. This same oil helps birds maintain the levels of Vitamin D3 that are necessary for healthy bone density, feather production and even egg viability.

Did you know...
The act of preening and the odor of the oil birds produce is thought to be linked to the identification of potential mates. In some avian species, the strong odor of the oil from a nesting female is also thought to assist in keeping predators away and deterring parasites.
After a total of four weeks in care, this hawk was fully recovered, clean, waterproofed, and flying perfectly! We were so close, but something had to be done about that nasty tail!

While the hawk was strong and able to fly, we know that the tail is critical to maneuverability and being able to hunt. Think of it as the rudder that steers a boat. A bird may be able to fly, but if he can't accurately steer, the bird's very survival is in jeopardy.
Raptor Release Coordinator Natalie Getsinger and Clinic Supervisor Sarah Kay Brady came in bright and early on a Sunday morning to build this beautiful bird a brand-new tail. They used a process called “imping”*, where healthy donor feathers of the same species are implanted into the existing shafts of the broken feathers.

The process is painless to the bird and the new feathers will molt naturally when the time comes. The best part of imping is it enables us to release a bird right away instead of waiting in captivity for weeks or even months until a natural molt occurs.

After the tail was successfully restored, Clinic Supervisor Cynthia Crossen made the long, 5-hour round trip to return this beautiful raptor to his wild home in Mendocino County!

Click here to see the release video
*Imping is a technique BRC specializes in—we even help sister rehabilitation organizations with this treatment. We also help train these fellow rehabbers in the technique to help raise the level of care throughout the areas we collectively serve.
Red-shouldered Hawk #105, Lake County
Just nine days later, on Tuesday, January 19th, we received our second long-distance RSHA of the month, bringing our January total of raptors from Lake and Mendocino Counties to eight! This RSHA was found on the ground in Clearlake Oaks in Lake County. He was unable to even stand. Upon arrival, the hawk was also very weak and dehydrated. The physical examination revealed heavy bruising over the bird’s chest and lower back, indicative of strong impact trauma a week or so prior to intake. Fortunately, all internal bleeding had ceased, the spine was intact, and the bird had proper nociception (pain response) in all toes. This gave us a glimmer of hope for a full recovery!
Due to the severity of the raptor’s condition, we immediately set to work stabilizing the patient. We started supportive care, including four days of supplemental heat, fluid therapy, assisted feedings and special housing to keep him safe and comfortable while learning to stand again. We also put the bird on a regimen of antibiotics and strong anti-inflammatory/pain medication. During this initial part of his stay, we ran diagnostic bloodwork and fecal testing, which luckily came back all clear.

After the initial days of intensive care, we were delighted to witness the bird standing again! Over the next week, we began to taper back supportive care and reduce the strength of medications until he was reliably standing and fully self-feeding. After a week and a half, the bruising had nearly dissipated and the hawk was ready to stop all medications and move outdoors.
Much to our delight, this fierce little raptor improved rapidly once the trauma resolved. We spent the following week and a half moving the hawk from our smallest outdoor enclosure into our largest to promote flight training. We also constantly re-arranged the hawk’s "furniture" (its perches) to promote and better assess overall coordination, perching ability, and use of the legs. After this marathon of flight and coordination conditioning, the bird had regained perfect function and all the sass we love to see in a healthy raptor.

On Saturday, February 6th, we said good-bye to this gorgeous hawk as Clinic Supervisor Sarah Kay Brady made the 3-hour round trip drive to return him to his home in the beautiful wildlands of Lake County.
Salmonella Outbreak Update
Though the weather may feel like spring has arrived, we're not out of the woods yet in terms of the Salmonella Outbreak.

We've been getting inquiries about whether it's safe to replace seed feeders and birdbaths yet and unfortunately, the answer is "no, not yet".

Click here for more information about how you can help prevent the spread of this deadly outbreak.

We all miss watching our feathered friends chowing down on seeds and playing in the water, but their safety needs to be our primary concern. The truth is that the outbreak is still very much active and by keeping your feeders down and your birdbaths covered you are making a direct difference in saving lives and maintaining the health of our backyard birds.

Pine Siskins, the species most strongly impacted by this outbreak, do not follow the same migratory pattern each year so it's difficult to predict exactly when they will begin their northern migration. In light of that, we recommend keeping all feeders down and bird baths covered until it is apparent they are heading north againusually by late spring.

We will keep you updated about their migration and together celebrate the return of our feeders and birdbaths later in the year!
You Make A Difference!
Each year we take in approximately 3,000 native wild birds. Open 7 days a week, 365 day a year, we're here for them—and for you.
Your tax-deductible gift today will make a life-saving difference!
Donate online using the button above, or mail your check to:
The Bird Rescue Center
PO Box 475
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
The Bird Rescue Center | 707/ 523-2473 | Email