The injured hawk, a female juvenile that is about 6 months old, was released this morning in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, the same place where it was captured by rescuers on Oct. 22.
The bird 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.
“It’s always exciting when we can return an animal to its natural habitat,” Templer said.
San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg said red-tailed hawks are relatively common in Golden Gate Park, which he said is home to more than 200 species of birds.
Ginsburg thanked the nonprofits involved in the rescue and recovery of the bird.
“This was no small task,” he said.
Investigators believe the shooting was intentional, but there are no leads in the case, Brown said. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the agency’s emergency dispatch line at (415) 554-9400.
Brown said he had never seen a bird shot with a nail gun in San Francisco.
“This is a first for me,” he said. “I’ve been here 15 years and seen pretty much everything else.”
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.
The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley is also asking for about $1,000 in donations to recoup the costs of caring for the bird. To donate, visit the center’s website at www.wcsv.org.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News