This morning as I was running late getting to an appointment, I noticed a fledgling chicken between the driveway and Karat’s pen. Oddly enough, I thought there was only one chick close to that size – and it was a black one that one of the Banty hens had hatched out around Memorial Day.
This one is decidedly grayish with brown feathers coming in. Sharpish looking claws and a curvy beak. This ain’t no chicken. Definitely a hawk.
There is a hawk nest in the tree next to the chicken house in the front yard. I could only figure that this ball of fluff with talons was one of the fledgling hawks from that nest.
The hawk nest earlier this Spring.
Running late as I was – I figured I would leave things to fate. If it was around when I got back home then I’d worry about it. If not, well life can be a bit tough sometimes.
When I got home I didn’t see the guy around. I had started calling the little one Horus, just to my self. Not seeing him around I figured was my luck for naming him. I checked around where I had seen him and checked in on the chickens – no sign of the little hawk.
I went inside to cool off. It’s been running just at triple digits here. The chickens were being noisy and there was a definite not chicken noise coming from the front yard. Thinking it was just the other fledglings calling from the nest I went back outside to double check. Ok, in truth I was still hopeful that the little raptor was around still.
Sure enough, he was in the hen house. Not sure what to do I put a call in to a wildlife rescue/sanctuary in the next valley over. I’m still waiting to hear back from them. I asked the guy what he knows about hawks – he said it’s illegal to keep them. Sigh.
Birds of Prey have fascinated me for a long time. Hawks in particular – the northwest has beautiful Red-Tailed Hawks. One place that I lived in for a few years bordered a wetlands area with resident Bald Eagles – who would routinely soar across the water towards the kitchen window and up over the house. I still haven’t figured out what kind of hawks we have here in the Great Basin- they are smaller brownish things. Whatever they are, they seem well suited to the desert.
Here is my rendition of Horus’ travels just this morning. This is not necessarily to scale. I’m sure most three-year-old children could render a better drawing. Good thing I included labels, huh?
I was pretty impressed that he had found his way to the hen house. Honestly, I can’t be sure it was his doing and not one of the hen’s getting a mothering instinct going. (Completely unlike what I have going on right now, ahem.)
But how can your heart not go just all ooey-gooey at that?
Since I haven’t heard anything from anyone that might know any better I figured he needed food and chicken scratch wasn’t going to do it for this carnivorous fledgling. Tuna anyone? It works for the cats. In fact I suspect he would probably really enjoy the cat food too.
I donned a leather glove – a singleton, lefty – to attempt to feed him. He took a few nibbles of tuna from my fingers. At that point I was very happy with my glove choice. Then after a bit he just went for the can of tuna.
Now, he’s in a box with his can of tuna and a towel. I was worried that the roosters may take a disliking to him. Last time I checked on him he was napping. I’m trying to figure out any loopholes to having a hawk. Semantics may play a big part here. If I don’t lock him up or ‘keep’ him in any way, yet he lingers around because he likes what feed happens to be around, does that count as having him?
In all seriousness I am hoping that the wildlife place calls back with some help – preferably a contact well versed with raptors and their care.
Meanwhile, I’m cooing at him.
I spoke with Linda at the wildlife rescue. Her first question was if he could be put back in the nest. Actually, that was her second question (the real first being if there was a nest around). The answer to putting him back in the nest was a definite no. The nest is at least 20 feet up in a cottonwood tree that sways ever so nicely in a gentle breeze. Unless someone has a cherry-picker nearby.
Next, she wondered if the mommy-hawk was still around. I had heard her just before the phone call so that was a yes. She suggested moving the fledgling to a spot where the mother bird could get to him and take care of his feeding. It sounds like tuna is not a complete meal for the birds (at least not without bones and organs). Hopefully I have Horus in a spot now where his mother can feed him an appropriate diet.
If it seems that the mom-hawk isn’t doing that for whatever reason, they do take care of hawks at this sanctuary/rescue and will come pick him up.
All I can say is that when he looks at me, it is completely different from when one of the chickens look at me. Big, dark, piercing, unflinching, unfrightened eyes.