Tuesday, December 27, 2011

John Blakeman on Bobby of Washinton Square Park's New Mate and Violet's Prognosis, Plus a Horvath Thank you

Photo by Francois Portmann
December 20, 2011, Violet hunts from a building perch overlooking Marble Cemetery.

Birder and professional photographer, Francois Portmann, http://www.fotoportmann.com/birds reports that Marble Cemetery is only about a half mile from Washington Square Park.

How is Violet doing in rehab? A Robin of Illinois, Violet Heads Up- courtesy of the Horvath's Facebook page-

"WINORR- Wildlife In Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation-- "To start she [Violet] is getting multiple small feedings daily and you can see her maneuver her head side to side which is called "putting over " . These meals are skipping right thru the crop straight into her stomach for immediate digestion as she hasnt nearly caught up to what she should be eating or weighing. Eventually you will see her eat but store food in her crop till ready to pass into her digestive tract for consumption."'

Robin wrote--I think Bobby (RTH) kept her alive by bringing her food. There is a RTH pair in Queens, Mama and Papa, I think they are called, where Papa had an injured wing, and Mama fed him til he recovered.

Yes Robin, they are called Mama and Papa. A bonded pair that Hawk Observer, Jeff Kollbrunner has followed in Queens for going on two decades now. Mama kept Papa alive by feeding him until his wing healed and I have no doubt that Bobby Hawk did the same for Violet until she decided to allow rehabber Bobby Horvath close enough to bring her in out of the cold and into the warm loving arms of Cathy his wife.

And a heartfelt thank you and some questions from long time hawk blog follower and contributor Mai Stewart for the Horvaths--

Dear Bobby --

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Magnificent!

What a wonderful Christmas present you've given us all -- not to mention Violet, herself! The gift of hope! And, hopefully, long life.

And now the next steps --

This might seem weird or off-the-wall -- but -- I think I've read, or seen on TV, that prosthetics are being tried for animals now -- is there any possibility, should Violet's leg need to be removed, that some kind of artificial leg-and-footlike appendage could be created for her, and attached? Or would that be just too difficult? (Or perhaps that's a dumb question?)

Or, is there any possibility, now that she's receiving treatment and good care, that her leg could grow back, could reconstitute itself -- could strengthen and heal sufficiently, so that she could hunt and feed herself, and use it normally, so as to prevent the foot disease?

Also, can the actual cause of the injury be determined, now that she's being looked at by you and a vet? It would be so helpful to know what happened, if possible, especially since different theories have been advanced.

Thank you so very much, I know that I'm not by any means the only one who's overjoyed by this wonderful news!



Mai also forwarded her email to Ohio Red-tail Hawk expert John Blakeman. Here is his response plus a take on Bobby of Washington Square Park's apparently street savvy new mate.


There is no possibility of a prosthesis. No way to hold it in place. The skin of the hawk is very thin and would wear away where the peg-leg attaches. And the bird would have no way of controlling it when moving or flying. The hawk would bite it off.

And no, it won't grow back. That works only in salamanders.

At least the bird will die without undue stress or discomfort. In the care of the Horvaths, Violet is in hawk hospice now. As I feared, she has bumblefoot (necrotic infection) in her lone good foot. This is virtually impossible to cure where the lesioned foot can't be held up without body weight pressure.

The focus now turns to the new formel, a fine 3-year old urban bird. She's hunting and killing in Washington Square Park without regard to people. I doubt this bird was hatched in any rural nest. I think she hatched in one of the several urban red-tail nests in the spring of 2009. She's a thorough big city girl.

Her age is revealed by the color of her iris, dark brown, but not as fully and uniformly dark as a full adult. There remains a very slight color density difference between the top of the iris compared to the bottom. This is all diagnostic of a haggard in her third year.

She's a perfect new mate. I look forward to three eggs and eyasses at NYU this year.

--John Blakeman

A workable prosthesis for a raptor has not been invented as yet as far as I can discover either, even for an education bird in captivity.

A Wisconsin rehabber, who had an education Bald Eagle with a terribly broken beak, worked with dentists, engineers, and tinkerers of all ilks trying to discover a way to give her unreleasable eagle a way to feed herself at least a little, with a prosthetic beak that could be worn for short periods of time while in captivity. She worked on various possibilities for years with very little success.

That doesn't mean of course that people will ever stop trying to find ways to better the lives of disabled raptors. Who knows what the future may bring.

Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

I hope that that band has been taken off.

Donegal Browne said...

Hi Karen,

It is my understanding that due to Violet's stressed half starved condition and the damaged leg's very poor condition as well, that as the band can do no further harm, and stressing her could, they are leaving well enough alone until she is stronger.