- Associated Press - Saturday, April 9, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A juvenile red-tailed hawk lay unexpectedly still but visibly nervous as it received an X-ray Friday.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen (https://icp-c.com/1RGwB9S ) reports that volunteers with the organization RARE - Raptor Advocacy, Rehabilitation, and Education - secured the hawk to an X-ray table at Best Friends Veterinary Clinic in Iowa City. Veterinarians then examined the newest image of the hawk’s broken humerus, where they had recently inserted a pin, and said the wing seemed to be healing well.

Luke Hart, executive director of the volunteer-run raptor initiative, said a vehicle likely struck the bird on Highway 218. He said a mother and son spotted the injured bird, rescued it and took it to the animal shelter, where RARE intercepted it.

Hart said it’s too soon to say whether the hawk can be released into the wild but said the X-ray offered a positive sign.

“I’ve got high hopes for this one,” he said.

The hawk is one of nearly 50 birds RARE has cared for since the organization’s inception in November, Hart said. Volunteers have also cared for owls, bald eagles and Cooper’s hawks, among other species.

Hart said the organization is raising money to potentially move into its own space with a clinic, to pay staff, and to buy medication and other supplies. The organization is also seeking more volunteers. People interested in helping can donate or sign up on RARE’s website to volunteer.

Hart and others created the nonprofit organization after the University of Iowa’s Macbride Raptor Project stopped rehabilitating birds late last summer and shifted its focus to research.

RARE focuses on treating and rehabilitating injured birds with the help of two local veterinary clinics, Best Friends and Gentle Heart Pet Clinic, which offer their services and space for free. Hart, a former Raptor Project employee, said RARE also promotes research and aims to educate the community about raptors and advocate for their well-being.

During the past four months, RARE released eight injured birds back into the wild and transferred four birds into educational roles, Hart said. On its website, RARE keeps photos and notes about birds’ care and outcomes.

Hart said some birds’ injuries are severe, and RARE must make the difficult decision to euthanize them to prevent their suffering.

“It’s always the last option that we choose for that bird, but in some cases, seeing how severe the injury is, the other options run out more quickly,” he said.

Elizabeth Aubrey, a RARE volunteer and retired UI faculty member, said she got involved with the organization after volunteering for the Macbride Raptor Project because she loves the outdoors and the “majesty and power” of raptors. She said she worked with Hart and other volunteers to develop RARE after the Raptor Project shifted focus.

“That was a real disappointment to me,” Aubrey said.

Shawn Hawks, coordinator of the Macbride Raptor Project, said he became coordinator in September and changed the program’s focus to education and research that would affect raptor species more broadly.

Recently, the Raptor Project began a study of raptors around the Iowa, Cedar and Mississippi rivers to learn more about the birds’ habitats, Hawks said. He said he hopes to expand this study to look at raptors across Iowa.

“I’m more population-focused,” Hawks said. “When you concentrate on rehabilitation, you really concentrate on the individual.”

But Hart said he thinks RARE’s work helps individual birds and whole populations because the focus on treating injuries sheds light on what happens when human activity clashes with raptors.

Hart said the organization seeks to inspire peoples’ interest in birds. He said RARE also focuses on conservation and habitats, noting that raptors are facing habitat loss in Iowa as a result of human activity.

“We’re saving the world one bird at a time,” Hart said.


Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/

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