Red-tailed hawk


Bailey, a red-tailed hawk
Quick facts: 
  • Hatch year 1990
  • Weight: 3 lbs.
  • Found in Red Wing, Minnesota
  • Illegally shot
  • Un-releasable due to fractured right wing
  • Female
  • Limited flight

Unable to fly, Bailey was found in Goodhue County near Redwing, Minnesota, in mid-October 1990. A Department of Natural Resources officer brought the hatch-year red-tailed hawk into The Raptor Center. The young bird had been shot and presented with dehydration and a fractured right wing. Staff from The Raptor Center worked to set the wing bone in hopes she would fly again.

When a bird comes in with a physical ailment such as a broken bone, initially it is typically placed in a patient cage, which is small and dark to keep the bird’s stress level low. After the injured raptor is stabilized, it may be moved to an indoor flight room.

Daily exams continue and when the time is right, test flights begin. Removable jesses worn on the bird’s ankle are attached to fishing line or parachute cords. The raptor is carried out to the middle of a field and the line is let out until the “flying” bird reaches the perimeter of the field. The bird is then retrieved, carried back to the middle, and the process is repeated seven more times. If a raptor can fly this distance eight times, it is usually moved to an outdoor flight pen. For Bailey, this process lasted nearly two years, or 98 weeks. Bailey’s injuries permanently impaired her flight, thus she joined the ranks of the other ambassador birds in the education department.