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Good Samaritans save injured red-tailed hawk

"Robben Jones, veterinarian at South Whidbey Animal Clinic, picks up a red-tailed hawk which was knocked unconscious after being electrocuted by a power line.Matt Johnson / staff photoA red-tailed hawk that flew too close to a power line Wednesday may have learned two valuable lessons - one that was rather jolting, and another about human kindness.At about 4 p.m., a 3-year-old male hawk flew within inches of an electric power line on Cultus Bay Road and received the surprise of his life. Apparently, electricity in the line arced during the fly-by, nearly killing the raptor and sending it spinning to the asphalt below. A man driving by within a few minutes of the accident noticed the bird lying unconscious on the shoulder of the road, where it was just inches away from being run down by passing cars. He stopped his car, wrapped the bird in a nylon rain coat, then moved it into the grass away from traffic. Stopping at about the same time was veterinarian Robben Jones. Seeing that the bird could move only its eyes and head, Jones turned it onto its chest to help it breathe better, then wrapped it in a piece of fleece to transport it to the South Whidbey Animal Clinic, which was less than a mile away. With advice from a local falconer who has seen other hawks hurt in power line encounters, Jones gave the hawk water and an injection to ward off the effects of shock.Though she had thought the bird was near death when she first saw it, the hawk rallied and was perched on its talons and ready to fly by Thursday morning. With the help of the falconer, Jones released the bird, which went back to its daily routine of hunting for food. Red-tailed hawks eat primarily eat small rodents and snakes.Because South Whidbey has a relatively large population of raptors, Jones said, it is helpful to know how to give the big birds first aid. Ideally, a person who comes across a sick bird should call a local veterinarian. If the bird is in a precarious position or is helpless and exposed to the elements, Jones suggests moving the bird to a sheltered location. The bird should be kept chest down if it cannot stand. When picking up a raptor, Jones said, it is a good idea to don a pair of leather gloves and to avoid the bird's talons. If no veterinarian is available, the best thing to do for the bird is to give it fluids with a small squeeze bottle or eyedropper at the corner of the bird's mouth.Jones said Coca-Cola is a good choice in the case of electrocution because the sugar and caffeine work to jump start the bird's system. These birds should also be kept calm in a warm, dark place until a qualified vet can be found.To get specialized help with raptors, call the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) at 425.787.2500 or visit www.paws.org. PAWS has two wildlife rehabilitation centers, one in Lynnwood. For more on the red-tailed hawk, go to www.desertusa.com/aug96/du_hawk.html.. "

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