Saturday, October 28, 2006

Introducing Helen

We went to meet our new program Red-tailed hawk, Helen.
The scoop on Helen:
I won't go into too much detail about how we came to get Helen, because events that happened before I came to RAPTOR took place to bring her to us. And it is very much a "He said, she said" situation, and I am staying out of it.
Basically, she was living with someone who loves her very much. That person can no longer keep her. So now she's ours.
Helen is 22 years old, and partially blind from cataracts. She is also very overweight, but otherwise healthy.
And what an easy bird to hold! Since she can't see well, she doesn't bate (try to fly off the glove) and she steps up like Lucy does. No chasing or ducking with this gal.
(Following two pics by Cindy Alverson)

Oh, yeah, I needed our walking stick to help hold her up. She's a chunker, all right!We tried to get the girls to get in the photo, but Isabelle was a little shy around the RAPTOR folk.
Helen is sure to become one of my regular program birds. One, she needs the exercise! And two, she is so much easier to handle than our other two Red-tailed HELLIONS, Two Socks and Scarlet.

We were so lucky to be at RAPTOR this morning, because Jeff brought in an injured red-tailed hawk that had been hit by a car. Here, Marilyn examines the bird as Jeff holds. The exam showed a cracked cere (that part of the beak around the nostrils) and maybe a concussion. And Jeff taught us a few things about determining the age of a bird: He pointed out the tail feathers, which were all red. If this bird had been hatched in 2006, the tail would be all brown. If the bird had been hatched in 2005, there would be no "old" red feathers, as this one has. So she is at least 2 years old. A "haggard" bird, instead of a "passage" bird.

Katherine, Jeff's daughter, looks on as her Daddy manhandles the scared, hurt birdie. This guy has forgotten more than I will ever learn about birds of prey. And he is fearless. He handles the birds like his hands are made of steel. I'm surprised he was wearing gloves today!

6 comments:

Dave said...

Helen is one gorgeous red-tail. 22 years old, wow. I bet she can tell some stories. Good idea with the walking stick.

LauraHinNJ said...

She's gorgeous!

That walking stick is a good idea. I noticed yesterday while a guy was giving a program about raptors the way he had to throw his whole body forward from the waist down to balance the golden eagle that was on his arm. They are huge birds!

jetison said...

Thanks for sharing, VERY interesting indeed - plenty of MOXY there woman ! Keep up the great work !

Susan Gets Native said...

Dave:
I bet she could bend our ears with her tales!
Sorry...bad bird pun.
Laura:
The former director of RAPTOR told me that his mentor had a golden eagle who weighed 10 pounds (!) and he had to make a crutch to hold his arm up!
Bob:
Thanks for commenting, Bobbers. I have to admit, it takes a bit of nerve to hold these birds. My moxy sometimes needs a little MOJO.
;)

NatureWoman said...

Helen looks beautiful - and so do you! Thanks for sharing her with us.
That's cool to know about the tail feathers - they're beautiful!

The Swami said...

Susan,
We need some close-ups of Helen. Sort of like your close-ups of Lucy and the owls about a week ago.