Red-shouldered hawk nestling falls from nest

April 27, 2023

A red-shouldered hawk nestling and an osprey were among the ninety-six animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include nine gopher tortoises, two yellow-billed cuckoos, a ruddy turnstone, an ovenbird, an indigo bunting, a scarlet tanager and two orphaned nine-banded armadillos. 

Red-Shouldered Hawk Rescued From Ground

The nestling red-shouldered hawk and remnants of its nest were found below a royal palm at a residence near Marco Island. An adult hawk was in the area and was actively defending her fallen baby from its rescuer. Thankfully, the hawk’s rescuer was undeterred, contained the hawk in a box and brought it to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for evaluation. 

The hawk was in good condition and didn’t sustain any obvious external injuries from the fall. The nestling was vocal and responsive when handled. Staff provided oral fluids, an anti-inflammatory and settled the nestling in a makeshift nest in an animal intensive care unit (aicu) to rest. A diet was offered ad lib to see if the hawk had any interest in eating. Staff checked the nestling a bit later; the hawk was calm in its aicu, but had not eaten on its own. Using a forceps, staff offered the hawk a small piece of mouse. The hawk snatched the piece of food from the forceps and eagerly looked for more. The nestling wasn’t quite old enough to eat on its own. The treatment plan for the hawk called for minimal handling aside from hand feeding three times a day. 

The following day the hawk was alert, responsive and eager to eat. A check for internal parasites was negative so no changes to the treatment plan were required. Hospital staff administered a second dose of fluids and medication. The nestling hawk was quite mobile and did not require an aicu so staff moved the youngster to a larger recovery space within the hospital. 

The anti-inflammatory had been discontinued post treatment the previous morning and when staff checked the hawk on its third day at the hospital, the hawk was bright, alert and responsive with no signs of pain. The vet cleared the hawk for renesting.

Red-Shouldered Hawk Nestling Renested 

Heidi Wolff from Bartlett Tree Experts was contacted for assistance; luckily, the royal palm where the hawk’s nest had been located could be easily reached with a bucket truck. Ivan Vasquez, Kenny Tuttle and Matthew Wasson coordinated with von Arx Wildlife Hospital Volunteer, Tim Thompson, to conduct the renesting. A wicker basket was attached to the tree to serve as a nest since the original nest was damaged. The nestling was placed in the basket; once the crew from Bartlett Tree Experts cleared out, Tim stayed to monitor the nest to see if the adult hawks would return. While a hawk was seen nearby on the golf course, it didn’t fly in to the nest while Tim was watching. 

The following morning Wildlife Hospital Volunteer, Bruce Robertson, checked the nest for signs of the adult hawks. The palm fronds made it difficult to see yet it didn’t appear that any adults were at the nest although the nestling hawk was quiet, alert and looked comfortable in the nest basket.

Later that afternoon, Tim headed down to monitor the nest for signs of the adults. Using a spotting scope, Tim was able to visualize an adult hawk in the nest with the nestling, confirming the renesting was successful. A check the following day by the hawk’s rescuer reinforced what Tim saw the day before – the adult hawks were tending their baby. At that point, there was no need for further monitoring.

Red-shouldered hawk renested

A second red-shouldered hawk and three groups of eastern screech owls were also renested last week at various locations in Naples, Marco Island and Bonita Springs. There are many facets involved with renesting and reuniting healthy wild babies with their parents.

Please consider volunteering at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital as part of our renesting crew. Renestings are incredibly exciting and the reward of seeing a young animal returned to its parents so it can be raised in a natural, wild environment is beyond compare.

Recent Releases

Three mourning doves, a roseate spoonbill, an eastern screech owl, two raccoons, seven gopher tortoises, four eastern cottontails, an osprey, two red-shouldered hawks, two Florida softshell turtles, a Florida red-bellied turtle, a blue jay, a Florida snapping turtle, a black-and-white warbler and a Virginia opossum were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit our website at to learn about opportunities to get involved. We need volunteers to help accomplish all the work done at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. If you are unable to give of your time as a volunteer, become a member or donate. Your support will help the Conservancy continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future. 

Joanna Fitzgerald is the Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239-262-2273 or see