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Up, Up, and Away

A rehabilitated red-shouldered hawk is released back to the wild in El Segundo.

By Maureen Kingsley

Photos of Christina Jones holding and releasing the red-shouldered hawk were taken by Sarah Ainsworth of Sarah Ainsworth Photography and by H. Gomez (where noted on photo). Photos of Eileen Bell and of Christina standing beside the captive hawk were taken by Maureen Kingsley.

On a clear, sunny Friday in late February, a small crowd gathered at 11am in Wyle Park in El Segundo, faces covered, to watch a captive, rehabilitated red-shouldered hawk return to nature. The hawk, a male juvenile found injured in El Segundo near Center Street School about a month prior, had been rescued by ESPD Animal Control and put in the care of Southbay Wildlife Rehab, a nonprofit organization based in Rancho Palos Verdes that rehabilitates sick, injured, and orphaned native birds and bats for successful return to the wild.

February’s Wyle Park event was coordinated by El Segundo resident and animal advocate Eileen Bell, who is a friend of Christina Jones, the Southbay Wildlife Rehab volunteer charged with releasing the red-shouldered hawk close to the location where it was originally found. At Wyle Park, before releasing the hawk and after an introduction by Eileen, Christina gave a brief, informative talk to those assembled, explaining that red-shouldered hawks eat rodents and snakes and tend to hide away in trees. Female birds of prey are typically the larger of the species, she added, and those females give birth to about four babies at a time. Few of them survive to adulthood, and that’s normal, she said.

Christina, heavily gloved, then opened the ventilated box holding the young hawk, reached in, and pulled him out for the crowd to admire at close range. He flapped and fussed a bit, as expected, until Christina turned him northward toward a cluster of pine trees and let him go.

The hawk appeared to fly purposefully and with plenty of vigor toward the trees, where he quickly settled onto a branch and disappeared from view. The crowd, which included some wide-eyed children, clapped and cheered at the hawk’s successful return to its home.

For more information on Southbay Wildlife Rehab, which is entirely volunteer-run, visit its website. The group is in need of more volunteers and always appreciates donations of money and supplies.

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