Jack: Red-Tailed Hawk

Photo: Jack, a Red-Tailed Hawk

Jack, a Red-Tailed Hawk (whom we believe to be a male from his weight and size), was brought to the California Raptor Center in 2012 as a second-year bird. He showed signs of respiratory problems, and he was wearing anklets, which indicated that he'd been in captivity for a while. This, his begging vocalizations, and especially his willingness to step onto an offered fist, suggested imprinting.

The VMTH diagnosed respiratory inflammation and aspergillosis, a sometimes severe but common fungal infection, and after initial treatment, he was sent back to CRC for continued care and rehabilitation.

When Jack recovered his health, he quickly showed strong signs of his dependence on humans. He begged for food and approached his caretakers eagerly, showing no natural fear or nervousness. When we introduced him to the "taming" process,* we found he already knew the routine: he stepped onto the fist, was calm with handlers, and on being introduced to an audience, actually seemed to enjoy showing off.

Since then, Jack has molted into his adult Red-tail feathering and continues to be calm with people. He is now one of the stars of on-site events, and is a favorite with handlers and crowds alike.

* Taming is the process of teaching a bird to stay perched on the gloved fist. First, the handler fits leather bracelets around the bird's ankles, and then introduces jesses, swivel, and leash, so that the bird can be controlled while it sits on the fist. This way the bird cannot flying away or injure itself if it should become agitated while being handled.

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