The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is located and part of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Located at 1495 Smith Preserve Way in Naples, Florida. Call 239-262-2273 for wildlife assistance.
A red-shouldered hawk and its sibling were among the 111 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a prothonotary warbler, a blue jay, red-bellied woodpecker, a tricolored heron, a Florida softshell turtle and a Virginia opossum.
A hiker at CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Trails found a nestling red-shouldered hawk on the side of the walking trail and called the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for assistance. Since the hiker was unprepared to engage in a rescue, hospital volunteer Michael Simonik, was recruited to head to the trail and rescue the nestling.
Despite the 25 foot fall from its nest, the nesting was vocal, alert and in overall good body condition when admitted to our facility. The nestling received arnica tincture, pain medication and was placed on oxygen in a warm animal intensive care unit to rest. After settling in, the hawk eagerly ate when hand fed a mouse. The nestling’s condition was monitored for two days; no further health issues arose so the young hawk was cleared for renesting.
Due to the remote location of the hawk nest, a bucket truck couldn’t be used for the renesting. Hospital staff contacted Dylan Jacques, owner-operator of Homegrown Tree Care, LLC. for assistance. Dylan evaluated the situation and felt confident he could use ropes to climb the tree and was thrilled to be involved.
On the day of the renesting, Michael retrieved the hawk from the hospital and met Dylan and his co-worker, Rob Wahl, at the trail. The crew successfully returned the hawk to its nest where it joined its sibling still safely settled in the nest all while one of the parent hawks monitored the situation from a nearby tree. See Conservancy’s Facebook reel for a short video clip Dylan took while renesting the hawk.
Sibling Found the Next Day
The following day a man arrived at the von Arx Wildife Hospital with a nestling hawk he had found while hiking at CREW Bird Rookery Swamp.
Hospital staff examined the nestling; it was the sibling of the baby renested the day before!
The nestling was in good condition and did not have any obvious injuries from the fall. Staff monitored the nestling over the course of two days and contemplated the idea of renesting. Prior to devising a renesting plan, heavy winds caused the hawk nest at the swamp to fall from the tree; the hawk that Dylan had renested was found on the trail and brought to the hospital by a hiker.
After two days of care, hospital volunteers Tim Thompson and Michael Simonik were called into action; the two hawks were healthy and needed to go back to their parents. This renesting would require an extension ladder to attach a nest basket to the tree.
The New Plan
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) owns the land where the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trail is located. On very short notice, SFWMD Senior Land Manager, Joe Bozzo, met our volunteers and provided gate access to reduce the distance Tim and Michael had to haul the ladder and other renesting equipment.
The group worked together to attach the basket to a tree all while an adult red-shouldered hawk kept watch. Once the two nestlings were placed in the basket, the renesting team watched from a distance to see what would happen.
Within minutes, an adult hawk returned to the nest with a frog to feed its offspring; so rewarding to see the family unit back intact.
Hospital staff thanks everyone involved in this extensive renesting event. Dylan from Homegrown Tree Care has our sincere appreciation; he donated his time and services to help the fallen nestling. Wildlife Hospital Volunteers, Tim Thompson and Michael Simonik, have our gratitude as well for all the time they invested in helping us get these nestlings back to the wild with their parents. Having healthy babies raised in the wild allows the hawks to learn survival skills from their parents and this gives them the best chance to survive on their own when they are grown and must fend for themselves.
Five eastern screech owls were renested and a prothonotary warbler, a Florida softshell turtle, an eastern mole, a mourning dove, three eastern cottontails, a burrowing owl, a herring gull, three grey squirrels and four raccoons were released this past week.
Opportunities to Help
Please visit our website at www.conservancy.org to learn about the work done by Conservancy of Southwest Florida staff and volunteers. Get involved; your volunteer time, memberships and donations are vital and help us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.
Joanna Fitzgerald is Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239-262-2273 or see conservancy.org.