Portrait of a Red-tailed Hawk
Artist: Marsha Frontz Cooper
Limited edition, signed & numbered art print
Image Size: 18″ W x 24″ H
This red-tailed hawk was found in the woods, so weak that a hiker was able to walk up to it and pick it up. It was brought to the nature center where I worked, because the head naturalist had a federal rehabilitation permit for raptors (birds of prey). Since no wounds could be detected, the hawk was taken to the Pautuxent Wildlife Research Center outside Washington, D.C. for evaluation. The x-rays revealed bones extremely deficient in calcium. It was surmised that the bird had been taken from its nest and improperly fed.
At the nature center the hawk was fed whole mice, baby chicks (both of which were obtained frozen from a research laboratory), eggs and any fresh road-kills that we (and raptor-loving people) happened upon. Hawks and owls need to eat fur, bones and all of their catch for complete nutrition.
In just a few months, the hawk’s “cere” (the area at the top of the beak where the nostrils are located) turned from an anemic bluish color to a healthy yellow. When the hawk was released to the wild, we watched as it flew through the woods to a branch overlooking a large field — a perfect perch for spying prey. A few tears rolled down my cheeks to see such a noble wild creature fly away with a second chance at a life of freedom. Some of the birds that came to our center with wounds too devastating for complete healing would never fly again.
I tried to capture in this pose the nobility and alertness of the hawk just before its release.
Marsha Frontz Cooper
The American Eagle Foundation (AEF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
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The AEF's tax identification number is 58-1652023.
Background photo ©Byron Jorjorian