Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oldest Living Red-tailed Hawk

A Red-tailed Hawk found in New York last month turns out to be the oldest wild Red-tailed Hawk.

She doesn’t have a catchy name (or any name), a fashionable perch or Twitter twitter (“Pale Male’s Central Park is infested with humans but he’s tolerant”), but the red-tailed hawk first seen just before Thanksgiving sitting on a dead rabbit on the white line in the middle of Route 17M near Monroe, N.Y., has quite a story to tell.

When finally contained, after a somewhat erratic journey, she was clearly old and infirm. But it was not until people were able to study the aluminum band that had been placed on her left leg when she was 6 or 7 months old that they realized just how old she was: about 27 years and 9 months. Most red-tails that survive their first year — more than 60 percent do not — live about half that long.

Among red-tails whose ages could be documented, she was the oldest ever found alive in the wild in North America.
She was captured as a result of injury, but she is on the mend:
She has almost certainly traveled far since then, but her current acclaim began on Nov. 15 when a motorist, worried that the bird would be hit by a car, stopped to pick her up after seeing her feeding on a rabbit carcass in the road. When the bird didn’t fight him and wouldn’t let the rabbit go, he figured there was something wrong with her and put her in the back of his van, where she perched on a mop handle.

There were a few stops and missteps. She escaped when a worker at Sterling Forest State Park in New York tried to transport her in a banker’s box, but she was picked up the next day on the same highway and taken to the Bear Mountain Zoo, and then to Suzie Gilbert, a wild-bird rehabilitator in Garrison, N.Y.
The hawk is currently undergoing treatment for a hairline wing fracture at The Raptor Trust in northern New Jersey. If she recovers and is able to fly, she may be released in the spring.

(via 10,000 Birds)