Business as usual.

Whoopsie!  I keep forgetting to post about my rehab session from Monday (June 29).  This week has gotten away from me, that’s for sure.

Well.  As June was winding down, the flight cage was winding up.  I arrived at the MRP on Monday to find Mary and Luke (student employees) walking out of the flight cage with an empty mouse bucket.  They had just dropped off a whole slew of newbies, which means we are currently housing six birds in the flight cage.  I haven’t seen that many birds in there since, well, last year, I guess.  The next few months will certainly be an exercise in time management for me, as I will go from having two birds to rehab to having six.  Right now, the new kids are all under observation only but in no time at all, I’ll be up to my armpits (almost literally) in birds in need of exercise and physical therapy.

Here’s the roster:

American Kestrel


Juvenile red-tailed hawks

Juvenile red-tailed hawks

I rehabbed the usual suspects this week – the Cooper’s hawk (COHA) and the red-tailed hawk (RTHA).  The Cooper’s hawk has come a long way since his arrival at the MRP several months ago.  He is still drawing his legs to the left when he flies, which is a sign that his right side is still slightly weaker than the left.  The injury to his right wrist has healed, however, and he is getting stronger.  His flapping is much less frantic now than it was when I first met him.  Hopefully in the next month or two, he will be able to return to the wild world from whence he came.

The RTHA was uncooperative and angry during this session – just like any wild bird should be.  She completed her flights, but getting her to do so was like pulling teeth.  We all have bad days, I suppose.  I was patient with her and allowed adequate rest periods between flights.   Her breathing had greatly improved since last week (as had the weather – mid-70s this week!) and she is strong as an ox.  I have bruises and sore wrists to prove this. 

While working with the RTHA, I remembered a bit of advice that one of my trainers gave me when I began my rehab work.  He said, more or less, that “the birds will tell you what they are or aren’t willing to do.”  I am proud of myself for learning how to listen to them.  Communicating with a wild animal and being on the same page as a creature who is anatomically closer to a dinosaur than to you is exhilarating and empowering.  If I may wax hippie-dippy for a moment, I can tell you that it brings you closer to the true spirit of the animal, and thus to nature. 

We were all wild animals once.  It’s fun to hang out with animals who remind me of that.

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