Sunday, April 25, 2010

Saturday's drama with the black, plastic bag

Because of weekend activities, many people (myself included) missed Saturday afternoon's drama when the formel got her leg caught up in a plastic bag.

Thanks to hawkaholic Karen McCunney (karenm152 on the Ustream chat) who wrote up this account, and to CamFan for the screen grabs (an hour behind in CST), we can get a sense of how close a call this was for the formel. Please feel free to add any comments for clarification!

Following this account is some video from today, showing the formel no worse for wear, feeding all three of the eyasses until they fell into a food coma!

From Karen McCunney:
"Saturday was an exciting day for all of us Hawkaholics! The formel somehow managed to get a small, black plastic bag wrapped around her left leg late in the afternoon. Watching her, you could tell that it was bothering her because it moved every time she did.

The tiercel brought food to the nest and she continued to feed the eyasses, bag and all.

She eventually flew off with the bag still attached to her leg and the real drama/trauma began. On the Ustream chat, we were speculating on all of the bad things that could happen to her. The biggest fear was that the bag would get caught on something and injure her.

The formel did not return for over two hours. The tiercel stayed in the nest standing sentry but was not sitting on the eyasses.

He fed them briefly twice while there but wouldn’t give up his post! We were afraid that if the formel did not return by nightfall, the eyasses would not make it through the night without her warmth.

The Franklin Institute became aware of the situation and joined in on the chat room trying to calm everyone! They assured us that because her beak could tear through skin and sinew, a plastic bag would not be a problem. One of our regular chatters also called Rick from the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Rick said that if the bag were still on her leg by nightfall and the FI would give him permission, he would remove the bag.

It was a harrowing time for all of us watchers. I can’t believe how attached we’ve all become to our family of red tails!

The formel eventually returned without the bag. Or was it the formel? There was a great deal of discussion over whether it was truly she or the tiercel. Whoever it was, this bird settled down to cover the eyasses.

We were somewhat relieved but would not be convinced until we saw both haggards at one time.

A few of us had to leave for previous commitments. (Imagine that!) I know I was not enjoying my party because I was so worried about the formel. What would happen to our eyasses if she never came back? Would the FI have to step in? Was she being rescued as I sat and chatted with friends?

Those who didn’t have previous commitments were glued to the screen. Speculation continued throughout the evening until there was a brief glimpse of the other parent.

At 9:30 PM, long after the sun had set, many of us were still checking in to see if all was well with the hawks. Everything seemed to have settled down by then. Whew!

Now, we can relax until they fledge….. but keep your Maalox nearby!"

-- Karen McCunney (aka karenm152)

Here is the video from Sunday afternoon (thanks, CamFan, as always) of the formel feeding all three hungry eyasses.


  1. Thank you for keeping us well informed. Many people who watch from far away really appreciate knowing that the hawks are safe and sound.

  2. Thanks Della

    Missed real time drama as well and welcome your post from Karen and
    CamFan. Volunteering w Rick now in SWRC which is an emergency
    room from dawn till dusk. Who knows? One day I might be a Rick Jr
    and help out our Family.

  3. The tiny one has quite a time getting enough food; she does OK once the other two are full. It is so wonderful to be able to watch this. I saw a red hawk fly over east Hemet, Calif. & it glistened so in the sun.

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