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Dec 3, 2018 3:44 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Red-Tailed Hawk Rescued After Being Found With A Hole In Its Chest

Dec 4, 2018 12:36 PM

A handful of people saved the life of an injured red-tailed hawk in East Hampton recently.

East Hampton Town Police Officer Andrea Kess was stopped at the traffic light on Cedar Street and North Main Street in East Hampton on November 25 when a driver, who was turning from North Main to Cedar Street, slowed down to tell her about an injured hawk near Oakview Highway, asking if the police respond to such incidents.

“I said, ‘Of course,’ and went searching for the injured animal,” Officer Kess said this week.

The officer found the hawk in a wooded area on Oakview Highway near Three Mile Harbor Road, at about 4:30 p.m., and wrapped it in an emergency blanket. She called Dell Cullum, an East Hampton Town Trustee and wildlife rescue volunteer.

“It was just getting dark when the phone rang, and it was from Officer Kess,” Mr. Cullum recollected on Thursday, November 29. “Next thing I know, I see headlights in my front window,” as the patrol car pulled into his driveway.

Mr. Cullum said he was shocked to see that the bird had a hole in its chest so large he could see into its body. Unsure of what could be done, Mr. Cullum called Nick Marzano, a friend and hawk expert.

“I was wondering if the bird was going to die,” Mr. Cullum said. “I sent pictures of it to Nick, and he told me, ‘Dell, get this bird medical attention right away.’”

Mr. Cullum used social media, his wildlife contacts and the Wildlife Rescue of East Hampton mobile phone application to get the word out about a hurt hawk in need of hasty transport.

Susan Jaffie and Dee McGuire Renos transported the hawk to the East End Veterinary Center in Riverhead, where Dr. Scarlett Magda determined that it had a 3-centimeter tear in its esophagus near where the neck meets its chest.

Dr. Magda said that the hawk arrived at the facility in critical condition, and that while she could not determine the cause of the wound, she noted a large femur bone in the hawk’s intestines that led her to believe that the hawk had been eating a large animal.

“I’ve seen gunshot wounds in a hawk, but a laceration is unusual, because it’s a predator species that tends to be independent,” said the veterinarian, meaning that hawks are rarely preyed upon, if at all.

Dr. Magda stitched up the bird and the center sent it to the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays the next day for rehabilitation.

Virginia Frati, executive director of the rescue center, said on Thursday that the hawk was not yet back to eating solid food, and that the wound would take about two to three weeks to heal. The hawk will then need a week to exercise outdoors to regain its strength, meaning that it will be a month before it can be released back into the wild.

Mr. Cullum expressed gratitude for the immediacy of help from the local community.

“It’s a really great thing,” he said. “Everyone came out to help this bird—and when it survives, how awesome is that?”

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