EVERETT — The young hawk found lying on the side of the road appeared lifeless.
But the person who spotted the bird decided to double check. They saw signs of life and reported the injured wildlife to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society.
Eighteen days later, on Wednesday, PAWS released the red-tailed hawk back into the wild in a wooded area at the Evergreen Funeral Home & Cemetery, near where it was found.
Jeff Brown, a PAWS wildlife naturalist, said the hawk suffered eye and mouth injuries, likely from a collision with a car, though it had no broken bones. PAWS rehabilitated the hawk, estimated to be under a year old, at its Lynnwood wildlife center.
Ironically, the Everett cemetery provided a new shot at life for the youngster.
“It was able to learn its lesson and get a second chance,” Brown said, explaining young hawks must learn to avoid dangers like moving cars.
The bird, with a dark head and white and brown wings, hopped out of its cage, took a brief look at the human onlookers, and flew decisively into the trees. It settled on a high perch.
The red-tailed hawk is the most common large hawk in North America, according to the Audubon Society. Its habitats include woodlands with scattered clearings and open grassland.
Brown said PAWS conducted flight and eyesight tests before Wednesday’s release. Eyesight is crucial for hawks, who are hunters and birds of prey. Fortunately, the bird’s eye injuries were temporary.
He said it’s a good sign the hawk quickly found a safe spot in the trees, away from the cemetery’s noisy gang of crows.
“It’s going to be a while before it fully settles down,” he said. It’s unknown if the bird was male or female.
Brown said PAWS rehabilitated an estimated 100 raptors last year. They put bands on all birds they release back to the wild to study their movements.
Wednesday’s wildlife release was a first for the Evergreen Funeral Home & Cemetery.
“I was impressed; glad to be a part of it,” said cemetery general manager Pete Cameron.
Brown is grateful to the person who spotted the hawk and checked for life, rather than leaving it for dead.
Find a wild animal in need?
Call the PAWS Wildlife Center at 425-412-4040 or report it online, paws.org/wildlife/found-a-wild-animal.
To find a licensed rehabilitator in your area, check the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website, wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/living/injured-wildlife/rehabilitation/find, or call 425-775-1311.