Winton the Red Tailed Hawk Overcomes the Odds to Return Home
Thanks to caring Great Parks staff and RAPTOR Inc.
CINCINNATI (May 16, 2016) – On Monday, May 16, 2016 the red tailed hawk nicknamed “Winton” was released back to his home range at Winton Woods after an arduous 5-month-long rehabilitation period. Cindy Alverson, Executive Director of RAPTOR Inc., said, “We are overjoyed to return this magnificent bird back to the wild where he belongs. He was in grave condition on admission, but he possessed a fighting spirit to survive. He overcame serious disability to be fit for release.”
Winton’s ordeal began in early December, 2015. Visitors described seeing an injured hawk in the area for several days but no one could get close enough to contain it. Raptors are well adapted for survival and will use their last bit of strength to escape capture. On December 16th, the hawk was reported on the ground along the trail near the Winton Centre. The highly trained Great Parks team, which included Naturalist Susan Sumner, Natural Resource Manager Tom Borgman, Ranger Ricky Dove and Volunteer Cricket DeNamur, sprang into action and safely secured the bird until someone from RAPTOR Inc. could respond. RAPTOR Inc. is a non-profit organization with the proper state and federal permits, facilities, and staff required to rehabilitate injured birds of prey. Birds of prey include eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, osprey, and vultures.
On admission, Winton was in extremely poor body condition. He was emaciated, dehydrated, infected with parasites, and had an obvious left wing fracture. The rehabilitators knew he was unlikely to survive, but aggressive treatment was initiated to give him his best chance. Once he was stabilized he was examined by veterinarian Dr. Joseph Grossi who confirmed 2 fractures in his left wing. Surgery was not indicated so the fractures were splinted and the bird was placed on cage rest. Only time would tell if the bird had the strength to survive and if the fractures would heal properly to allow for normal flight.
After several weeks of intensive care, it became apparent that Winton would survive, but he still wasn’t flying. He was re-examined in February but no obvious reason could be found. The rehabilitators prepared for the possibility that Winton would never regain his flight ability and considered searching for a permit holder that could provide a permanent home for him. In the meantime, Winton continued to undergo physical therapy to build strength and conditioning. The additional time paid off and, amazingly, in mid-March Winton was ready to return to the wild. He was banded by a licensed bird bander and the finders were notified to participate in the release.
Ms. Alverson was asked to explain why is it so important to call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in these situations. “For situations involving birds of prey, or any wildlife for that matter, it is very important to call a licensed rehabilitator for many reasons. These animals are strictly protected under state and federal law and penalties can be severe for disturbing them in any way without the proper permits – even possessing one of their feathers is illegal. They also require incredibly specialized care and handling. Simply staring at a bird can cause the bird to die from stress or cause the bird to imprint on humans which will prevent the bird from returning to the wild. Licensed rehabilitators work closely with expert wildlife veterinarians to provide advanced medical care such as fluids, diets, x-rays, lab tests, medications, surgery, and physical therapy. Licensed rehabilitators also have state-inspected facilities with large flight enclosures. These enclosures are designed to meet the unique needs of recovering birds of prey and get them in shape for release.”
To report an orphaned, ill or injured bird of prey in Southwestern Ohio or Northern Kentucky, contact RAPTOR Inc. at (513) 825-3325. To support raptor conservation or schedule an educational program, visit our website at https://raptorinc.org .