National Bird Day: A lesson in the plight of a captive bird, from Polestar's Toni Faust, a Blue Mountain Wildlife volunteer

January 5, 2017

A Bird of Prey in Captivity

Each year as spring turns to summer young fledglings test their wings and learn to fly.  For many birds this includes jumping and flapping their wings to gain strength and coordination. Sometimes the birds jump too far and fall to the ground. 

On July 9, 2016 a young hawk was removed by Blue Mountain Wildlife after a woman called to say she had to turn over the bird.  (Blue Mountain Wildlife is a nonprofit, primarily volunteer organization that provides rehabilitation services to native wildlife in need of care.)  The young hawk had landed on the ground below it’s nest in a tree in woman’s back yard.  The woman watched and waited, but the mother hawk did not attempt to recover the young hawk.  So the woman picked up the young hawk and put it in a bird cage (meant for a parakeet) and kept it in her kitchen. 


The woman fed the young hawk raw hamburger for a couple of weeks.  Although the young hawk did grow, the woman knew that something was not right.  Worried about the bird, the woman contacted a local veterinary office to find out what to do, and she was told the bird should be fed mice.  The woman proceeded to purchase two live mice from a pet store and she presented one to the young hawk.  The young hawk had no idea what to do with the live mouse.    

From her initial call to the veternary office, wildlife authorities were notified about the woman keeping the young hawk captive.  The woman was told to turn the young hawk over to the appropriate wildlife organization and that It is illegal to keep a Bird of Prey captive without a license and training.  The woman called Blue Mountain Wildlife. 


Good Intentions Gone Wrong

Upon arriving at the woman’s home, Toni Faust, a Blue Mountain Wildlife Volunteer (and Polestar employee) found the young hawk in a small wire bird cage.  The young hawk could not stand. Toni wrapped the young hawk in a towel and placed it in a box and transported it to Blue Mountain Wildlife’s Pendleton, Oregon facility.  The young hawk was examined and it was determined that his body had been deprived of the calcium it needed to build strong bones during a critical time in the hawk’s life. The calcium deficiency (‘juvenile osteoporosis' or 'nutritional osteodystrophy') had weakened the bones beyond repair. The fate of the young hawk was grim.  It was humanely euthanized. 


Unfortunately the death of the young hawk could have been prevented if the woman had just contacted Washington Fish and Wildlife, or Blue Mountain Wildlife immediately upon finding the young hawk. 


Who to Call if you find a Bird of Prey or an injured animal

If you find an injured Bird of Prey in South Eastern Washington or North Eastern Oregon contact Blue Mountain Wildlife:  If you aren't sure, call your state's Fish and Wildlife:  It is illegal to keep a Bird of Prey captive without a license and training.


National Bird day activities are designed to make people aware of the needs of captive birds.  To learn more about National Bird Day check it out at: 


Toni Faust has twenty three years of combined experience in radiological laboratory, quality assurance, waste management, environmental compliance, and project management.  Experienced in integrating federal and state environmental regulations with project goals for complete compliance. Toni has performed  risk analysis under Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), written and negotiated air and waste permitting documents with clients and regulators.  Knowledgeable in quality assurance requirements for inorganic and radiochemical waste and environmental samples analytical laboratory methods.   Toni holds a MS in Physical Chemistry and has 13 years Hanford experience.

In her free time, Toni enjoys volunteering at Blue Mountain Wildlife rescuing birds of prey and wildlife photography.



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