On July 17 I had the privilege of reuniting a young Cooper’s Hawk with his family in a Seattle neighborhood. The bird had been brought to PAWS after a concerned citizen found her attached to a screen door. Most likely, the young bird had collided with the screen door during one of her first attempts at flight. She tried to hold on, but ended up hanging upside down with the talons of one foot embedded in the mesh of the door. Fortunately she had not been injured in the incident, and she was in good health when the person brought her to PAWS.
I had been in contact with wildlife researcher Jack Bettesworth about another young bird in our care, and I told him about the bird who had the unfortunate screen door adventure. Jack graciously offered to visit the neighborhood where the hawk had been found to see if her family was still present. He was able to confirm that two adult Cooper’s Hawks were in the area, and they had at least two fledglings in their care. As the fledgling hawk at PAWS had now had several days to practice her flight skills in an enclosure, we were confident she would not end up in another precarious situation if we released her back in the neighborhood with her family.
I met Jack in Seattle at 8 a.m. on the 17th. As I pulled to a stop alongside the road, a Cooper’s Hawk flew in and landed on the telephone wire directly above me. The calls of others could be heard in the surrounding trees. After banding the hawk that had been in PAWS’ care so she could be identified in the future, we let her go in a tree-lined alley from which the majority of the hawk calls were emanating. She flew up into the branches of a large maple and began to chatter excitedly. The other voices we heard answered her, and we were able to count at least three other young hawks who were now conversing with their newly returned sister. It wasn’t long before the parent birds joined in as well, and we left the hawks to enjoy their family reunion.