Does Bird Feeder = Hawk Feeder?

When it comes to bird feeders it's always something. If it isn't the squirrels eating the seed, it is the hawks eating the birds. While we all know that hawks need to eat, we just don't want them dining at OUR bird feeders. The only way to truly make a feeder hawk proof would be to build a cage around your yard that has openings big enough for the birds, but too small for the hawks. Since that is clearly impractical what are the alternatives? For the last 14 years a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks has called the land around my house their territory. There have probably been many pairs, but there is always a pair claiming our yard as their territory. They scream out their territorial challenge from the abandoned Martin house in my neighbor's yard on a daily basis. Despite this there have been less than 5 instances where a hawk or other predator has taken a bird from my back-yard. Why? Maybe I got lucky with my feeder placement, but my neighbor hasn't complained about hawks taking his birds either. What do the placement of my feeder and my neighbor's feeder have in common? Absolutely nothing - and maybe that is the point. My yard has enough cover that straight line shots are minimized. My neighbor has several large trees, but they are grouped together leaving lots of straight line shots, especially from the abandoned Martin house. My theory is that I have physically made it harder for the hawks to snatch from my yard and my neighbor has made it psychologically more difficult because prey feel exposed and jumpy. Most hawks scope out potential food sources (i.e. your birds) from a nearby perch. [...]

Pair of Red-tailed Hawks wow crowd

In honor and memory of Dr. Ned Dudney, two juvenile Red-tailed hawks were released from the The Dr. Ned & Fay Dudney Clear Creek Nature Center in League City, TX Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. His widow, Fay Dudney and daughter Vaness Hamilton were in attendance. A planned third hawk was held back because damaged talons needed a little more time to heal. An excellent photograph of the event was published in Sunday's Houston Chronicle, City section (B2). Several other media outlets were in attendance. It was a gorgeous spring morning and the first hawk circled and landed in the top of a nearby tree. The second hawk circled and landed in another nearby tree.  The two rendezvoused briefly in a single tree before flying off together.        

Public Release of Three Red-tailed Hawks

The release of three Red-Tailed Hawks will be in honor and in memory of Dr. Ned Dudney who for 50 years served as family doctor to many grateful patients, some across 5 generations. He enthusiastically participated with the early development of League City and the greater Bay Area. This leadership and his service to his profession earned him the Ashbel Smith Distinguished Service Award from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He loved the outdoors. His gardening and weekly golf game was his getaway and rejuvenation time. From his humble roots on a farm in Southern Arkansas he gained a lifelong appreciation of the natural world around him. His particular fondness for the sand hill cranes who winter in the League City area is known by many of his friends and family. Please join us for the release Saturday, March 6, 2010 10:00 a.m. The Dr. Ned & Fay Dudney Clear Creek Nature Center in League City, TX On Egret Bay Blvd (FM 270) between Nasa Rd. 1 and FM 518

Ending the Year – Upside Down

The end of the year brought trauma to a Barred Owl from Crosby.  The owl became trapped in a batting cage net and the more he twisted the more tangled he became.  Kind rescuers braved the cold drizzly weather to free the owl.  The net had to be cut and the owl was rushed to the Wildlife Center where an exam showed no broken bones.  The owl was given warm fluids and put under a heat lamp.  Several hours later he was standing and appeared to be in good shape.  A week or two of cage rest and some good food should have this owl up and back hunting in his Crosby neighborhood.  This owl and five other animals became the last patients of the 2009 year.  The Crosby owl was joined by an injured opossum, a pelican, two red-tailed hawks and a screech owl.  All were examined, treated and medications administered.  They as with the owl were tucked into warm cages as they ushered in the new year with a new chance at life.   Each year the Wildlife Center takes in over 7000 injured ill or orphaned wildlife.  WR&E staff and volunteers are always curious which species will be the first of the new year.  The first animal for the 2010 new year was a gorgeous adult red tailed hawk.  He was found in a yard on High Island, with an injured wing.  After a ride on the ferry to Galveston and a car trip up I-45 he arrived at the Wildlife Center.  A through exam revealed a sprained wing that probably occurred when it hit a power line or moving vehicle.  The first few days of the new year proved to be very busy [...]

A Fall Day at the Wildlife Center

Three animals lay on cold Houston streets on a drizzly gray day in November.  All three needed help as their injuries prevented them from moving.  Luckily all three were found by caring individuals who brought them to an organization that was ready, willing and able to provide treatment. On November 21, 2009 the first call came in about a Great Horned Owl who had been found on the road.  A man and his two children brought the badly hypothermic owl to the WR&E Wildlife Center for care.  The magnificent Great Horned Owl was cold, wet and scared. WR&E staff gavage fed warm fluids and pain medication. Intubation continued on an hourly basis. The Great Horned Owl began to stabilize.  Several hours later a call came from a gentleman who had found a hawk on the road.  With guidance from the Wildlife Center he took a towel and scooped the hawk up and gently laid him in the back of his car and drove it to the Wildlife Center.  The hawk turned out to be a gorgeous adult Red Tailed Hawk. It was also badly hypothermic, so WR&E staff administered warm fluids and pain medication. A heat lamp was placed over the bird to speed the warming process. Intubation continued on an hourly basis. Not more than thirty minutes later the third cold wet patient was driven to the Wildlife Center.  An adult female Virginia opossum was found injured.  An exam revealed deep gashes in her neck. She was also hypothermic and in shock.  This animal was warmed and stabilized. Then her wounds were treated.      By the end of the day all three animals were dry, warm and taking food.  Should they survive, they will still have several weeks of [...]

Wildlife ER Summer 2009

Patient 09-100203. Our executive director, Sharon Schmalz was at the Wildlife Center when she received a call from a train engineer in Beaumont.  He told her a small owl had been riding on a the stairs on the engine of his train and wouldn’t (couldn’t) fly away. As Sharon talked with the gentleman it was determined he would be coming right by the Wildlife Center on tracks that ran through Houston.  He called back when he arrived in Houston and Sharon jumped over the fence behind the Houston SPCA and rescued the little Screech Owl. The train blew its whistle, as it chugged away and the Screech Owl came to the Wildlife Center for a couple of weeks of supportive care to bring it up to a healthy weight.  It was released several weeks later after time in a big flight cage to build muscle tone.   Patient 09-100533. came to us after crashing into a window at the VA Hospital.  The very large Red-tailed Hawk had some minor wing damage and was of poor body weight.  He spent many weeks at the Wildlife Center under the watchful eye of several veterinarians.  He began to put on weight and soon the soft tissue damage was healed.  After several weeks of flight therapy in an off-site flight cage to strengthen this wings, he was released to once again soar over the skies of Houston.     Patient 09-100146 was the prize trophy of a neighborhood cat.  The little Eastern Grey squirrel had several puncture marks and was scared to death.  After a complete exam the little guy’s wounds were treated and he was hand fed for several weeks. On April 14th he was released with six [...]

Red-tailed Hawk Rescue

 The First of the Year Margaret Pickell  It won’t make prime time news, but the anticipation of what a rehabilitator’s first arrival of the New Year will be is just as exciting as the first baby born of the New Year. During the winter, several days may pass before our services are needed.  This winter robins were frequenting the area so I thought one of them would be my first patient, but it was not to be. As our family was settling in for some ‘New Year’ conversation, the phone rang and on the other end was a family traveling from Louisiana to Portland, Texas. They were approaching Houston when a red-tailed hawk hit them. Yes, that was their statement. Evaluating the situation with the usual questions of injury and status, I suddenly realized exactly what ‘hit them’ meant. The hawk had crashed into the grill of their moving vehicle and remained there as we spoke. I immediately communicated to them that they should pull over and wait for our arrival. My husband and I rushed to the location and after some careful tugging, intricate manipulation, and maneuvering of the plastic grill the hapless passenger was freed at last. Amazingly, the hawk was still alive!  Overcoming weeks of long-drawn-out physical recovery, heaven only knows what mental thoughts must have gone through the bird’s mind. It was very comforting   when the family would call to check on him regularly. The bird had two fractures in the wing. Unfortunately, even making all the progress that the red-tailed hawk was able to make, he is not fit to be returned to the wild. But this isn’t the end of the story. An overwhelmingly positive aspect of this experience is that with [...]

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