Baby Broad-winged Hawk Goes Home


Photo by Andrea Montgomery.

On Sunday, July 1st, we received a call from Robert, who was spending the weekend with his wife, Andrea and their daughter, Cassidy, out near Deep Creek Lake in western, Maryland. Earlier that morning, Cassidy had discovered a baby hawk lying helplessly on the gravel walkway near the house they were staying in. They wanted to help the baby, but had no luck finding anyone nearby who could be of assistance. After further conversation, we learned that they would be returning to their home north of Baltimore later in the day, and passing through Frederick, not far from Owl Moon Raptor Center, on the way. So we made plans to meet there to transfer the hawk chick into our care.


Cassidy found the nestling hawk alone and covered in flies on the gravel walkway. He stood up when she approached. Photo by Cassidy Montgomery.

Meanwhile, we were concerned about the fact that they saw flies around the chick when they found it. Flies are a bad sign for two reasons. First, flies don’t normally bother a healthy animal, and second, flies lay eggs, which lead to maggots, and ultimately toxicity and death of the animal they are laid upon. One exception to the former is in the case of young birds. Flies WILL lay eggs on a healthy chick, because chicks are helpless, and they have developing feathers, which provide easy access to a blood supply for fly larvae. Therefore it is important to move them indoors, away from flies, and to then make sure all fly eggs are removed from their feathers. Since we would not be receiving the chick for several hours (time enough for fly eggs to hatch), we explained to Robert and Andrea, how to find and remove fly eggs from the young hawk.


That dark circle behind and below the chicks left eye is his ear opening. The ears normally have tiny openings hidden in the downy feathers. Monty’s are visible because they are swollen, filled with maggots, and crusted over with dried blood! (Photo by Kristina Motley)

When the young hawk arrived, we discovered he was a first for Owl Moon, the first nestling Broad-winged Hawk we’ve ever admitted! Broad-winged Hawks are rare in eastern Maryland. Not so in Garrett County, where “Monty” was hatched. In examining Monty, we found that Andrea and family had done a good job of removing fly eggs, but Monty had another kind of maggot infesting his ear cavities, botfly larva called warbles. His ears openings were swollen and encrusted with dried blood. Using drops of saline and forceps, we removed the warbles one by one. We counted 16 total!


Monty feels much better after his ears are cleaned out and the swelling has come down. (Photo by Suzanne Shoemaker)

When we finished removing the maggots, the swelling in Monty’s ears began to decrease almost immediately, and he felt much better. Over the next few days, Monty ate well, and grew and gained weight while we took steps to return him to his nest and back to the care of his parents. First, with Andrea’s help, we gained permission from their friend and Deep Creek neighbor, Jeff, to look for the nest, which was most likely on his property.

Step two, was to actually find the nest, which was a 3-hour drive from Owl Moon. Our first call was to our friend Deron Meador of Adventures With Raptors. Deron, his wife Sherry, and their whole big family of birds and dogs recently moved from our area to Deep Creek Lake.  Deron and Sherry responded immediately. They went to Jeff’s address and soon located the nest, about 35 feet up in a tall tree. The nest was being watched over by an adult Broad-winged Hawk. Step three was to find a tree service to assist, which Owl Moon volunteer Nicole Burns accomplished by making multiple phone calls to Garrett County. The kind folks of Earth and Tree LLC, Tree Experts in Frostburg, MD responded, saying they’d be happy to donate their time and services to help young Monty. The operation was set for noon on Sunday, July 8th.


From left: Kevin, Wayne, and Glenne, the wonderful folks from Earth and Tree LLC, who volunteered their time and services to help return Monty to his happy home in the tree. (Photo by Amy Rembold)

The renesting team included Earth and Tree Arborist, Wayne Blocher, Sr., his wife and coordinater, Glenne Blocher, and Kevin Hall, the all-important tree climber, and Deron and Sherry of Adventures With Raptors. Rehabber Amy Rembold from Owl Moon, who  coordinated the effort from our end, arrived with Monty and our renesting gear. Kevin climbed the tree to just below the nest and lowered a rope. Amy prepared Monty by placing him in a padded bag, and then tied the bag onto the rope. Monty was then raised up, and placed into the nest by Kevin. This startled a second nestling who came out of the nest, but was unharmed. She was quickly caught and returned  to the nest with Monty. A third chick had already “branched”. That is, had reached the age where they leave the nest and climb around in the tree. He was unperturbed by the operation. When it was over, the team soaked up the heartwarming scene of the reunion, as the young hawks settled contentedly into their natural home, with the company they were meant to keep.



Monty (left), reunited with his older sibling in his nest. He is relaxed and content, and back in the care of his parents, (Photos by Kevin Hall)