GOODYEAR, Ariz. – After months of special care and rehabilitation, two red tailed hawks were released back into the wild Wednesday morning.
It was a beautiful sight to see the birds fly free once the doors of their kennels were opened. Neither bird hesitated more than a few moments.
Both hawks were in the care of the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, but for very different reasons.
The first bird was orphaned by the Wallow Fire last May. She was only 5 or 6 old when she was found in Eagar. Because she had been forced from her nest too early, she had not fully learned to fly and was unable to hunt on her own.
The second bird, an adult female about 5 or 6 years old, had been shot in the wing. She was discovered in the area of 67th Avenue and Buckeye Road in January.
The birds did several test flights before their release in Estrella Mountain Regional Park Wednesday morning.
“This bird would fly constantly, which … is sometimes an indicator that that animal is telling us it’s that window of opportunity – that golden hour – when we need to get them out because they’re ready to go,” explained Sandy Cate of the Arizona Game & Fish Department. “That’s the key, really being observant, watching and paying attention to that to make sure that we’re not compromising their opportunity to survive when you release them in the wild.”
AZGFD chose to release the hawks in Estrella Mountain Regional Park rather than in Eagar because the birds have already started their migration to the Valley. They thought starting the birds off here would give them a better chance to adapt and start hunting.