Saturday, August 24, 2013

Peanut safely back in the sky

It's great to share the wonderful news posted yesterday on the Franklin Hawkaholic facebook page by Michele Wellard at the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic:

"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:

"Moments after he burst out of his carrier box and flew skyward, he landed in that tree."

            Michele Wellard

"We sent him off after a nice meal - squirrel, as it happens." [You can see his full crop here].

            Michele Wellard

"For once in his life, Peanut was quiet during and after release!"

            Michele Wellard

Michele also gave us some information about Peanut's condition when he was brought into the clinic, and how he had progressed through his rehab:

"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 "With all three hawks seriously injured or dead on the Parkway, it was a no-brainer to locate him somewhere better, since he would be leaving [migrating] soon anyway. Imagine releasing him on the Parkway and a day later he's hit by a car again! It's too much of a risk. Obviously we're not into relocating all the city's hawks, but a juvenile [hawk] with his family's record, who has just recovered from a serious injury, and who would be leaving anyway - well, his welfare is the ONLY thing we consider when choosing his care and release plan. The choices were made to give him the best shot and a long and healthy life - like we try to do for all of our patients."

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 " 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?

                    Katy Mae

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!

                             Carolyn Sutton

                       Carolyn Sutton

               Dinko Mitic


  1. Della, I thank you and the photographers and the people at the SWRC for everything you have cone for these birds and us. It's been an honor to chat with you and read about the hawks antics, trails and tribulations. Thank you.

  2. Kudos to everyone who documented and shared these unbelievable events. I'm stunned every year, and hold my breath along with everyone else. The rehab folks are awesome. It's hard work they do, decisions they make, and the glory they must feel when they release their patient! I've been fortunate to watch this saga and wouldn't miss a moment of it. The keen eyes of the photographers who captured these events allowed me an even more intimate view of the bird's daily adventures. Thanks Della and everyone for sharing the wealth.

  3. Lovely writing Della, and I love the Art Museum photos!

  4. Just regained internet access after a week in th boonies. I Am So Glad peanut was not released back into the city. Bless all those ar Schuylkill for their loving skill. I hope our little boy lives a long life and fathers many eyasses!
    Ann Feldman

  5. Just wanted to say thanks for this blog. I don't live in Philadelphia, but this has made great reading all spring and summer. Great photos, great reporting, great stories well-told.

  6. Hi Folks:

    As always, thank you kindly for the wonderful postings. I've been around for two full spring/summer seasons and watch daily for news about the "family". I pray everyone has a wonderful Fall and Winter and I'll see you in late February!!

    Bob (xm4665)

  7. I just want to say a very belated "Thank you" to you for maintaining this blog, and to all the hawk-watchers for sharing their marvelous photographs with us. See you in the late winter/early spring!

  8. Hi Della,
    Are there any news about Mum and T2. I've been following your blog for the last 3 years and love your stories. Looking forward for the next season. Hugs

  9. Hi Folks:

    Well, it won't be too long before we begin to hear about our hawks! I am looking forward to the lengthy and highly detailed reports and award winning photos. Perhaps this year the institute could arrange a Saturday afternoon gathering for us hawk watchers with a guest speaker or two. I would travel from Albany, NY for that.

    Have a nice Christmas and New Year everyone!


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