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Hawk has close call with rodent poison


Photo: Wildlife Center of the North Coast

The Wildlife Center of the North Coast came to the rescue for a red-tailed hawk that bit off more than it could chew.

A social media post from the Astoria-based organization show a beautiful dark morph red-tailed hawk that was found on the side of the road in very bad shape. A concerned citizen who found the bird didn’t think he’d even make it to the Wildlife Center’s doorstep. The culprit was determined to be rodenticide poisoning.

“We honestly weren’t sure how good his chances were,” the social media post said. “We opened the transport box to find him lying on his back, mostly unresponsive and covered in feather lice.”

The Wildlife Center said at some point the bird enjoyed a tasty meal that included a nasty side of rat poison, adding that the effects in raptors tend to be much slower and more agonizing than they are to the rodents they’re intended to kill.

“The poison leaves the raptor severely impaired and unable to hunt, ultimately rendering them emaciated, dehydrated and terribly confused,” the social media post said.

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the red-tailed hawk is one of the most familiar sights along the roads of Oregon, soaring high on the sky over a field, or perched on a utility pole, waiting patiently for prey.

Red-tailed hawks are large-bodied raptors with relatively broad wings. The back is mottled brown, and the tail of mature birds is orangish red with a thin, dark subterminal band. Perched birds can be identified from behind even when the tail is concealed by the white mottling on the scapulars forming a faint ‘V’.

Most individuals can be assigned to one of two color morphs, light or dark. Both are similar from the back, but underneath the light-morph birds are largely white or off-white with a bellyband of varying extent and darkness.

It is found throughout the state in every habitat and at every elevation, though they are scarce in more densely forested areas.