"I'm happy to report that today Peanut was released to an excellent undisclosed location. He is flying, soaring, and hunting. He will be supported with food drops to ensure he gets his bearings. It's the perfect spot for a hawk - lots of prey and perching, but not too many human-caused dangers. Thank you all so much for caring so much, and for the donations to the clinic. Fly free and live well, young hawk!"
Michele shared pictures of his release and additional information:
"We sent him off after a nice meal - squirrel, as it happens." [You can see his full crop here].
"It's so amazing to look at these photos - remembering my first look at him as a patient - a badly injured hawk who could not even stand up - to this: a soaring, dashing young hawk, ready for his new life, ready to take on the world."
"His body condition was great when he left us - that's one of the things we evaluate before release. He should have nice breast muscle that you can feel - in many ways that's more important than his weight in grams (although obviously he should not be lighter on the way out than he was when he came in!)"
"He is very small for a Red Tail - 847 grams when he came in, and he wasn't skinny - his body condition was good, with nice breast muscle. He's small, but naturally so - he's within the normal weight range, just at the low end, making him almost certainly a male. He's one of the smallest I've ever dealt with. Some of the higher end weight females are absolute bruisers!"
Several hawkfans asked why he was not returned to the Ben Franklin Parkway to rejoin the haggards, Mom and T2.
Michele responded "
A couple of days before Peanut's release Rick Schubert moved him into the 50' flight cage where he was able to fly more freely.
Carolyn Sutton who volunteers at the clinic described this new environment: "Now, he has the huge cage to fly around in. It's got large perches on each end and he can fly back and forth between them. Ellen Boyar, another volunteer at SWRC, described him flying "...in big circles, swooping and dipping. He flew beautifully..."
So the saga of this year's three Franklin Institute eyasses ends well for the youngest and tragically for two oldest. Who knew when we saw this image way back on May 4 of the surprise hatching of the third egg days after the other two, that the little scrap of eyass on the left would be the only one to survive?
Rick Schubert and Michele Wellard at the SWRC did an extraordinary job of nurturing Peanut through his recovery. Not only did they bring him back to health, but through their careful choices and timing of each stage of his rehab they also made sure he was equipped to fly free, hunt and join the migration south that all juvenile hawks will make in the next few weeks.
The haggards - Mom and T2 - will winter here again in Philadelphia and we will keep track of their activity over the next few months. Just to whet your appetite for the next blog post, here's where they are now spending quite a bit of time!