Did some hawk health checks today, and I got to handle our sweet old man.

This hawk–affectionately known among staff and volunteers as Old Man Red Tail–has been with our program since 1996 and already had his red tail, which makes him at least 21 years old. For those who aren’t familiar with the normal life expectancy for a red-tailed hawk, that’s pretty freaking ancient. As you can see in the last picture, he doesn’t perch terribly well–he has a bad case of arthritis in his right talon, though he’s responded incredibly well to the medication we’ve been giving him over the last year! 

His left eye is badly damaged and basically blind, and he’s somewhat brain-damaged–all the result of a car strike years and years ago. He was deemed non-releasable by his rehabber, and thus came to join our program.

Remember: Don’t throw trash by the roadside, not even biodegradable food trash. The waste will draw mice and other small rodents to the road, which in turn draws birds of prey. These visual hunters don’t look away once they’ve spotted their meal, and will swoop right in front of a car without a second thought. That impact could result in death or, like Old Man here, permanent injury and a life in captivity. 

Learn a lesson from Old Man’s story, and do what you can to protect his free-flying brothers and sisters!


A local lady posted this photo of a juvenile RT, warning everyone with small pets to watch out because two of her cats had disappeared. So some other lady from Virginia posts this photo of her dog a few days later claiming that an eagle attacked her dog…no witness of course.
A friend forwarded the original post and I commented (of course I was civil and very nice about it), but when I saw this lady chime in with her Shih Tzu, I gotta say…I was pretty livid. This is how raptors get a bad rap and how rumors spread. We don’t even have indigenous eagles in South Texas…maybe a migrant here or there, but people just see that and start talking and posting.