Wolf Hollow holds permits from US Fish and Wildlife Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to keep a small number of un-releasable birds to take part in educational outreach programs. We currently have two resident birds.
Aspen – a male Rough-legged Hawk
His coloring showed that he was in his first year. Young birds are better candidates for training as education birds so we decided to get permission to keep him as part of our educational outreach program.
In November 1995 Aspen was found sitting on the ground in a field on Orcas Island, unable to fly. He was very close to power lines, so we guess that he flew into the lines and injured his wing. Radiographs showed a break close to the wrist joint in his right wing, which was too close to the joint to be surgically repaired. The break healed, but calcified so that the joint was stiff and he was unable to fly more than a few feet, so he couldn’t be released back into the wild
Madrona – a female Red-tailed Hawk
Madrona arrived at Wolf Hollow in October 1998 after being hit by a truck on Highway 20 near Anacortes. She had a break close to the shoulder joint of her right wing. The break was too close to the joint to be surgically repaired, but our vet removed bone fragments to stabilize the injury and prevent further damage to tissue. Sadly, it healed with impaired mobility in the shoulder joint, so she could never fly well enough to hunt in the wild.
Her plumage told us that she was only a few months old so could be a candidate for our education program. In the first few days, she proved how suitable she would be by jumping out of her hospital kennel to land on a plate of meat and gobble it down – totally ignoring the person holding the dish!
Both these birds are important to our Education Outreach Program and accompany our Education Coordinator to give presentations about raptors, local birds, human impacts on wildlife and our work at Wolf Hollow. They have visited school classes, libraries, children’s summer camps and elder care facilities in San Juan and Skagit Counties.
It is sad that these birds cannot be flying free, but these “wildlife ambassadors” have inspired many people to appreciate the beauty and wildness of wild creatures living around them. Seeing a wild hawk close enough to appreciate its beautiful feathers, sharp talons and hooked beak inspires people’s awe and interest far more than any number of words or photos can. They also help people realize how sad it is that beautiful wild creatures can be badly injured by our cars, fences, power lines etc and not be able to return to their life of flying free.