Heat prompts thousands of young hawks to leave nest early - Tucson News Now

Heat prompts thousands of young hawks to leave nest early

A young Cooper's hawk being treated at Tucson Wildlife Center. (Source: Tucson Wildlife Center) A young Cooper's hawk being treated at Tucson Wildlife Center. (Source: Tucson Wildlife Center)
Pet carriers containing several of the Cooper's hawks being treated. (Source: Tucson Wildlife Center) Pet carriers containing several of the Cooper's hawks being treated. (Source: Tucson Wildlife Center)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

More than 200 young Cooper's hawks have been treated at the Tucson Wildlife Center since Saturday, June 4.  

The Wildlife Center has also been fielding some 550 calls a day about these young birds being found on the ground, according to a news release.

Record-setting heat is causing the young hawks to leave the nest earlier than normal. 

"In the heat of the day, tortoises will be underground, most desert animals will be underground or seek out shade," said Lisa Bates, founder of Tucson Wildlife Center. "A bird’s body temperature is 106 degrees, so they can take more heat than we can, but not much. Try to imagine yourself in the canopy of a tree that has no shade. Try to imagine yourself sitting in the blazing sun all day long with no breeze. It’s miserable for all animals."

June is when most young Cooper's hawks leave their nests, as they develop the ability to fly they typically spend a week on the ground learning.

The hotter than normal temperatures are speeding up this natural process. 

According to staff at the Wildlife Center, the parent hawks are usually perched nearby watching for any potential threats, whether human or other animals.  

While most of the young hawks will survive without human intervention, the Wildlife Center is offering the following advice to the 2,000 plus callers:

  • If the fledglings have mostly brown feathers, are walking well and appear healthy with no crusting around the beak or eyes, and if they have found shade, Bates advises people to leave them alone. The parent hawks likely are monitoring them from a nearby perch.

"If a bird appears to be heat stressed, a shallow bowl of water could help," Bates said. "They should not be fed and pets should be kept indoors away from the fledglings."

  • If the young birds are mostly white with downy feathers and appear healthy they can be placed in a makeshift nest. A shallow, open-top box or a basket lined with leaves and tied to the shady part of a tree near where the hawk was found will keep it safe from ground predators and allow the adult hawks to continue caring for the young hawk. 

For more information, or if you see wildlife in need of help, call Tucson Wildlife Center at 520-290-WILD (9453).

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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