Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blakeman on Broken Beaks, Red-tail Eyass, 6 Wolves Shot
(**** for brains, perhaps?)

As many of you may know, the hooked portion of the Riverside Mom Red-tail's beak is no longer there. According to Lincoln Karim's report, she is able to eat small rodents that can be swallowed whole but something that must be torn, such as a pigeon, is very difficult for her to eat.

Obviously there is concern. Raptor biologist, John Blakeman, addresses the issue in another of his wonderfully informative pieces.


I've never seen this in a wild hawk. It's very curious. The bird must have really smashed its head into a hard object, almost surely while flying.

The hook of a hawk's bill is very hard and strong. It would take a lot of force to break it off.

There is the very outside possibility that it was bitten off when it captured a squirrel.

Falconers often have to trim the length of hawks' bills. Just yesterday I clipped off about 1 mm of a fellow falconer's Red-tail I was caring for. The distal, tip end of the bill is all dead tissue. But at the base, above the lower jaw, is the "quick," the living, vascularized tissue from which the bill grows.

Many years ago, I recall clipping a bit more than just the distal tip of my first Red-tail. I clipped into the quick, and it bled rather profusely. This New York bird would have had lots of bleeding when it lost the bill tip.

I'm certain that the hook will eventually grow back out. But it could take a year or more.

Without the hook, the bird will continue to have difficulty tearing off flesh to eat. Eating squirrels will be virtually impossible, as they have very tough, almost impenetrable skin.

Obviously the bird has learned to live with its disability. But if it lays eggs and tries to feed young eyasses, it will fail. It will be impossible (I think) for it to delicately pull off small tidbits of flesh that newly-hatched eyasses can swallow.

--John Blakeman

Gray Wolf, Canis lupus, Courtesy of
From R. of Illinois--


MADISON, Wis. -- A signal from a radio collar alerted a pilot with the state Department of Natural Resources to the first of six wolves found dead the day before and during Wisconsin's gun deer season...

Photograph courtesy of Juli, a member of UIFAAOH, Group
Brooklyn's Peggy sent this link so we could check in on how Columbia Campus Hawkmadinejad is doing.

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