The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation’s (AIWC) second last On-Site Talk of the year, Sept. 16, will focus on the hawks that call Alberta home – the varied types of local hawks, why they are often observed along roads and the main threats facing them in the wild.
“Many of AIWC’s patients that we admit at this time of year – anywhere from August to September, sometimes October – are often juvenile hawks,” said Holly Duvall, AIWC’s executive director.
This August, Duvall said, the most frequent patients to arrive at AIWC were Swainson’s hawks (see our story here). Hawks are often injured during the late summer and fall, she said, because young hawks have fledged, left the nest and are increasingly on the move as they begin their migration.
“Unfortunately, during that, they get into trouble,” Duvall said. “That can be from getting hit by a car to hitting power lines and many other scenarios, as well.”
Duvall said hawks are often observed along roads and highways, and being hit by a car is the most common cause of injury among the hawks AIWC cares for. According to Duvall, hawks are attracted to roads because of the abundance of food along those corridors.
“There’s lots of prey for them close to roads, whether that’s ground squirrels or mice,” she said. “One of the issues we find is that when people litter – just throw their garbage out of their car – that attracts mice, and then, that attracts the hawks. It has a ripple effect.”
As hawks land on or near roads to catch prey, the likelihood that they could be struck by a driver increases, she added.
According to Duvall, the best action anyone who encounters an injured or orphaned hawk – or any injured or orphaned animal, for that matter – can take is to call AIWC’s wildlife hotline at 403-946-2361. It’s better to seek professional advice before intervening with an animal, she said, and added it’s also important to monitor for signs that the hawk is actually injured.
“If the bird is not flying away, if one of the wings seems to be drooping or anything, that’s a sign of injury,” Duvall said. “Really, there’s so many individual situations that the best thing to do is to call our hotline.”
The talk is scheduled for Sept. 16, from 1 to 3 p.m. With the numerous species of hawks in Alberta, as well as the numerous threats they face, Duvall said, the presentation will be very thorough and will last approximately one hour. Following the talk, attendees may tour AIWC’s facilities and see some of their current patients.
Tickets are available at aiwc.ca, at a cost of $15 for AIWC members and $20 for non-members. According to Duvall, space is limited for the presentation – as of Sept. 6, only 20 spots remain available.