Rehabilitated Red Shouldered Hawk Released into the Wild in Fauquier

George Munson, who works at at large moving warehouse in Springfield, noticed a Red Shouldered Hawk in his rafters. The hawk remained for weeks, flying around in the warehouse, but she just couldn’t figure out how to get out. The warehouse had to be closed and locked during the nights, so she didn’t have that opportunity to leave.

Munson knew he needed help for the bird. They tried catching her with a net, to no avail. Finally, when the bird became to weak to fly, she came down and landed on the ground where they were able to catch her and put her in a box.

But what then? Surprisingly, it was very hard to find people to help with a bird of prey. You need a skilled official wildlife rehabilitator and a specialized wildlife vet to care for them.

After many phone calls to wildlife experts and fish and game officials and and extensive web searches, finally the zoo over in Front Royal gave him some names. Enter Nikki Stamps, a certified wildlife rehabilitator in Warrenton, Liz Dennison, and Dr. Belinda Burwell of Wildlife Veterinary Care in Millwood. He had finally found a team that could help his bird.

“George gave her to me, and I gave her electrolytes and fluids, but she started going in to seizures and shaking. I knew she needed more help. I brought her up to Dr. Burwell.” said Nikki

According to Dr. Burwell, the bird was starving, dehydrated and very close to death. She had lost half her body weight. She treated and cared for the bird for 3 weeks, and finally she was ready to be released.

On Monday, George, Dr. Burwell and Nikki met at Northern Fauquier Community Park in Marshall. There, Dr. Burwell carefully reached into the hawk’s crate and secured her by holding her talons. The bird was very vigorous, clearly fully rehabilitated and healthy, and anxious to be off. After a short photoshoot and a goodbye, Dr. Burwell let go of the hawk’s talons, releasing the bird, who flew off like a flash. The four of us stood and watched her soar into the sky and disappear.

Nikki said, “Rehabbing wildlife is the best thing I’ve ever done… to realize that you CAN help them and you can get them back to a life in the wild where they need to be and it’s so rewarding to see, to watch that bird fly away today, it just brings tears to my eyes to think that we had a hand in getting that bird back to a normal life. It was just so exciting to see her fly away.”

What happens with the hawk now? Well, explained Dr. Burwell, she may stick around here, or she may travel further. She needs to establish her own territory and find a mate. The size of a hawk’s territory depends on the food supply, if there’s a very nutrient dense area, quite a few hawks may have their territories there. They eat smaller birds, small mammals, frogs and snakes.


Posted by Wildlife Vet Care on Monday, February 26, 2018

If you find an injured or starving raptor:

Do not feel them. If they are starving, their digestive tract will not be able to digest normal food, and they will die.

Call Nikki Stamps at Native Wildlife Rescue at 272-0666 or Dr Burwell at  Wildlife Vet Care at 540-664-9494.

Pam Kamphuis
About Pam Kamphuis 75 Articles
Pam Kamphuis is an editor and writer for Piedmont Virginian Magazine and Piedmont Lifestyle Magazines.


  1. Great shot of the hawk, Dave. I”m betting that the redwing blackbirds around my house are a match for it. I”ve watched them run a few hawks away from their nesting area in the cattails. It must be great to throw bread on a real stone countertop, the way God intended.

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