A baby red-shouldered hawk was reunited with its family Thursday afternoon after falling from its nest earlier this week.
On Tuesday, the hawk apparently took a misstep and tumbled close to 50 feet from its nest to the ground on the property of Eastern Heights Middle School on Garford Avenue. A neighbor spotted the bird on the ground and called the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center in Bay Village, which specializes in wildlife rehabilitation.
According to Tim Jasinski, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist with the center, the baby birds are in the “branchling” stage, which means they can leave the nest and hop from branch to branch, but they can’t fly yet.
“They’re starting to learn to fly,” he said. “Their feathers aren’t fully grown yet, so they can’t fly. Once they’re big enough, they’ll start flying, but the parents will continue caring for them for a while.”
A volunteer took the bird back to the center in Bay Village, where it was checked for injuries. Despite the nearly 50-foot fall, Jasinski said the bird appeared to be unharmed.
On Thursday afternoon, with the help of the Elyria Fire Department, the bird was placed back in the tree with its three siblings.
“We wanted to get him back to the original nest as soon as we could,” Jasinski said. “That’s their best chance of survival.”
While some species of birds can climb up a tree after falling out, Jasisnki said it’s not the case with red-shouldered hawks.
The baby bird’s three siblings watched intently as the firetruck pulled up under their tree. As the firetruck’s bucket began its ascent toward the nest, they tried to hide by ducking down as far as they could.
Rather than putting the fallen bird back into the nest, though, Jaskinski placed it on a branch about 10 feet below the nest.
“We didn’t want to spook the other chicks in the nest and have them jump out and hurt themselves,” he said. “We picked a lower branch so they didn’t see us. They were scared and hiding. We put him at least high enough where he’ll be safe from predators and near his family.”
Jasinski said the bird’s parents will take care of it on that branch, even if he can’t make it back to the nest just yet. He has no concerns about whether the parents will take care of it after being handled by people.
“The parents will always take care of them,” he said. “It’s a myth that the parents will reject their babies if you touch them. The reason why I think that myth began is because parents told their children that so they wouldn’t mess with baby animals, which is good.
“You should never touch a wild animal ever; just leave them alone. If there’s any concern that an animal is injured or sick, always call a wildlife rehabilitation center to get advice on what to do first, before you do anything.”
While Jasinski has renested several birds in his career, he admitted Thursday was the first time doing it in a firetruck.