A red-tailed hawk, nicknamed Lucky, is resting comfortably Friday at the Sweetbriar Nature Center after being found in Northport with a BB pellet in his wing.
A local resident reported his plight to the center Sunday, the day after another adult red-tailed hawk was found in nearby Kings Park with a BB pellet lodged in a wing joint, she said. That creature had to be euthanized.
Lucky, an adult male, is being housed in a kennel in a private area. As long as such creatures are “in a quiet area by themselves with no people and no noise, they think they’re in hiding,” said Janine Bendicksen, director of wildlife rehabilitation at the Smithtown center.
A highlight of Lucky’s day is the delivery of a nice, dead rat, which he devours, she said.
Sweetbriar’s new guest faces eight to 10 weeks of healing, with the decision made to leave the pellet in his wing bone because it’s not affecting a joint, Bendicksen said.
After that, he’ll move to a flight cage, where he can relearn to fly and practice catching his own meals before being returned to the wild.
Bendicksen said she finds it “atrocious” to come across such a bird of prey shot, especially considering hawks offer a benefit to homeowners — “getting rid of rodents on your property.”
The red-tailed is the state’s most common hawk, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, “often seen soaring over fields, perched in trees or on top of power poles along highways.”
Red-tailed hawks are protected by both the state and federal governments.
The shooter of the birds would face animal cruelty charges, brought by the Suffolk County SPCA, and carrying a penalty of up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, said Roy Gross, that organization’s chief of department.
Those who violate the state’s Environmental Conservation Law are subject to fines of $250 per infraction and/or up to 15 days in jail, said Aphrodite Montalvo, a spokeswoman in the DEC’s Long Island office. She asked that anyone with information on the shooting of the two red-tail hawks call the DEC’s law enforcement office at 631-444-0250.
The DEC is also asking the nature center to turn over any pellets that were found so it can “confirm the type of ammunition used, so should any future infractions come our way, we can compare and collect further evidence,” Montalvo said. The agency also will be increasing patrols in the area, she said.