The Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of CPR, Caron Andregg, has a few different hobbies. She happens to be a very accomplished birder. While birding in the Tijuana River Valley south of San Diego, she encountered two Red-tailed Hawks that had got into serious trouble.
“Down at a local birding hot-spot called “The Sod Farm” (because it IS a sod farm), we found a guy standing in the dirt access road looking at something humped just inside the field edge. I thought at first it was a wounded red-tailed hawk that had been hit by a car on the adjacent road. On looking closer, it turned out to be two red-tailed hawks that had got their talons tangled up in the plastic agricultural mesh secured over the new sod crop. And then they’d tried to get away and got tangled up in each other. They’d been tangled up for at least an hour and a half, and he’d shooed away several lurking vultures.”
Armed with two sweatshirts and a box cutter, Caron dove into action. This short video shows an early segment of the entire operation to free two red tailed hawks tangled in agricultural mesh and each other.
“The birds each have one talon tangled up in the mesh and interlaced/tangled with the other bird’s claws — like teenagers holding hands, only much more painful. They have each been hooded with a sweatshirt to keep them quiet, though during this bit, the juvenile keeps trying to poke his head out. You can see the wing of the mature bird splayed out on the ground, and the talons of one bird in my hand as I slowly cut away the mesh with a box cutter. Not very safe, but it was the only cutting tool we could find. Later someone came up with some safer blunt-nosed scissors that I eventually used to cut away the last threads close to the birds’ skin.”
“We were three-quarters of the way through the operation before anyone thought to shoot some phone video. Gene’s phone kept dying, but he managed to get a few seconds of me releasing the second bird.”