Red_tailed_Hawk.jpgAfter one of Golden Gate Park’s hawks was shot — in the head! — by a nail gun, rescuers captured the bird, nursed her back to health and, yesterday, released her back into the Park. But our story’s not over yet, as authorities are now on the hunt for the hawk’s attacker.

The injured hawk, a female juvenile that is about 6 months old, was first spotted on Oct. 9 in Golden Gate Park with a framing nail lodged in its head, according to Rebecca Dmytryk, director of WildRescue, a Monterey-based wildlife rescue group.

After several days of trying to catch the hawk, members of WildRescue were able to lure it into a wire mesh trap with rats inside, Dmytryk said.

The bird was then transported to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose, and during the trip, the nail fell out of its head, said Anita Templer, the center’s director.

Templer said “the bird was traumatized but wanted to eat” once the nail fell out.

Center officials inspected the hawk and found that the nail had pierced its skull but missed vital organs and its breathing cavity, allowing a full recovery.

The bird weighed about 1,180 grams when it arrived at the center and grew to about 1,570 grams, or just under 3.5 pounds, when it was released.

The hawk was brought out in a cage to the main field at the Botanical Gardens where Lt. Le-Ellis Brown from San Francisco Animal Care and Control opened the cage. The bird hesitated for a few seconds before flying out into a nearby tree.

There is a $10,000 reward being offered by WildRescue for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the shooting. Investigators believe the shooting was intentional, but there are no leads in the case, Brown said.

But perhaps some leads will emerge soon — according to the Ex, Brown plans on running forensic tests on the nail to try to track down the shooter.

“Nails are like bullets,” Brown tells the Ex, saying that with the right tests they can determine what kind of nail gun was used. They’ll be searching construction sites for that type of nail gun, presumably questioning workers and, if they’re smart, mentioning that $10K reward.

The federal Migratory Birds Treaty Act protects red-tailed hawks, and the Ex reports that “harming one is punishable by up to six months prison and a $15,000 fine.”

Anyone with information on the shooting is encouraged to call Animal Care and Control’s emergency dispatch line at (415) 554-9400.

The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley is also asking for about $1,000 in donations to recoup the costs of caring for the bird. You can donate to the fund here.

Photo of Red Tailed Hawk: Derek Ramsey, via Wikipedia

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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