Michele Wellard, assistant director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic, took the animal to the wonderful Animal and Bird Healthcare Center and Hospital in Cherry Hill, NJ. There, the amazing Dr. Boutette and Dr. Dazen treated the animal pro bono for us. The radiograph showed that the bird has a fracture of the proximal tarsometatarsus bone. Then the good doctors set the bone and put it on a regimen of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain meds.
Dr. Boutette remarked that he is 100% certain that this fracture happened from the animal landing on concrete...in fact, he has never seen a fracture on a bird present itself with this specific signature that was not the result of landing hard on concrete. We were very sad to hear this, but validated that our deduction was correct. It explains everything that the Hawkwatchers observed with this bird. If left alone, it would have died.
The bird is back in our care at the wildlife clinic and will remain so until the time of its release. We still have a lot of work to do, but cross your fingers that everything works out OK. This was a real team effort, with Gene from the Franklin Institute (who held onto my leg so that I did not fall off the ledge and go 'splat' on Winter Street), Della, Caroline and Michele all playing critical roles. I especially cannot thank Drs. Dazen and Boutette enough for their generosity and skill, both for this bird and for all the "non-celebrity" birds that they treat free of charge for our little nonprofit clinic.
We are all very well aware that so many fledgling hawks do not survive their first year. That's the way of nature. But what happened was not this bird's fault...it is not genetically weak or inferior, and we are not tampering with the gene pool. We are all giving back to this bird the chance at life that nature intended...just a chance, not a guarantee. To the wonderful Hawkwatchers I would like to say, it's always OK to care. Caring is a good thing. Could use a bit more of it in the world."