An injured red-tailed hawk was found Monday, Sept. 28, in Aguanga and given aid by community members.
Gerald Clarke discovered the bird in apparent distress and assessed its condition as grave at best. He posted on social media for assistance.
“I’ve found an injured red-tailed hawk. Normally, I take them to the Living Desert, but being Sunday and after hours, does anyone know where I can take it?” he said on social media.
The red-tailed hawk is a medium-sized bird of prey known as a raptor. These birds are often seen perched near roadsides or soaring over open fields. They prey on rodents, birds, reptiles, fish and rabbits.
Red-tailed hawks build nests in tall trees, towers or buildings. Both adults help incubate two to three eggs, with the female caring for the young for the first month as the male brings her food. After 42-46 days, the fledglings leave the nest, but they are unable to fly for another two to three weeks.
In response to Clarke’s online plea, Aguanga resident Ashley Titel arranged to pick up the bird and deliver it to a care facility first thing Monday morning.
“I got a message from Gerald Clarke about a hawk that needed to be picked up,” she said. “We met at the casino parking lot around 8 at night and picked it up in a box.”
It seemed the bird could fly only a few feet and was forced to land. The pair decided a possible severe injury could be the cause of the erratic behavior.
“I took him to a friend who could help examine him and help determine what was going on,” Titel said.
Titel said her friend thought there might be a foot or spine injury, and it appeared that the bird was about 2-3 years old and otherwise in good health.
“The next step was to make him comfortable until morning when Care Animal Hospital opened,” Titel said. “They are the vet that Project Wildlife works with in Temecula. We got him into a cage, and he proceeded to lay down on his side. I brought him home and placed him in a quiet spot for the night. I remember checking on him around midnight and cringing as I witnessed him breathing hard in pain.”
She said she did not expect the raptor to make it through the night, but the bird defied the odds.
“I woke up at five and peered in on him. To my surprise he was using his wings to make himself stand up,” she said.
As she loaded him in the truck and began the journey to Temecula, he stared at her intensely, she said.
“When we arrived at the vet, the vet tech grabbed his cage out of my car and asked why I brought him in because he was so alert. I told her his story and why he was there. Upon coming back with the cage she agreed that something was going on with the leg and a wing also; however, he was still standing in the vet cage and that was a good sign.”
Project Wildlife was contacted to take over the bird’s care. Titel received no more updates.
“My heart is so full knowing that a large group of wonderful people got together to give a red-tailed hawk a chance of getting help and flying free again,” she said.
If you see wildlife that appears to be injured or sick, report them to 951-826-5311 or report concerns to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services at 951-358-7387.
Additionally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife lists these agencies in Riverside county that can help: Hope Wildlife at 951-279-3232, Sunshine Haven at 951-588-8811, Tracks and Tales at 760-552-3239, Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center at 760-347-2647 and The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens at 760-346-5694.
To learn more about helping injured wildlife, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at https://wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/laboratories/wildlife-investigations/rehab/facilities.
Diane Sieker can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.