March 6, 2013 —
With spring around the corner, migrant birds of all types are preparing to make their move north. Eagles that are over-wintering in our area are returning to their Canadian breeding grounds, and the first returning turkey vultures should be arriving in our region right around the start of March. A few raptors suffered various mishaps during fall and winter, however, and they spent the winter healing up at the avian equivalent of a hospital.
Bill Streeter, director of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center, contacted me early in the week to ask if I wanted to accompany him and assist in releasing a trio of rehabilitated raptors back into the wild. Bill said it would be a long ride, as each bird had to be released where it was found; a bird released into unfamiliar territory would incur undue stress and compromise its chance of survival.
Bill explained that the center had an influx of injured hawks and owls over the fall and winter, and rather than release them in the middle of winter, he would rather wait a few weeks until the weather broke; rehabilitated raptors stand a better chance of surviving and re-acclimating themselves in the wild than if they were released in the middle of a harsh winter. Also, some raptors are migrants and would not cope well in the wild here in our harsh winter climate.
Some four hours later, all three birds were released and all the releases went well; the trip encompassed three counties in two states. The species list consisted of a Cooper’s hawk, a barred owl and an eastern screech-owl. Thanks to the citizens or conservation officers who called or rescued these birds, and to the dedicated staff at the Delaware Valley Raptor Center, all of these birds have a second chance in living out their life free in the wild.
If you find an injured raptor, please call 570/296-6025. You can also check the website at www.dvrconline.org .