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‘A perfect flight’

Rescued hawk released back to habitat

January 7, 2013
By Beth Christian Broschart - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

Following a hearty hawk breakfast, a rescued red-shouldered hawk was released near St. George on Saturday morning. The hawk was rescued earlier in December and had been recuperating in Morgantown.

Jo Santiago, a well-known expert on birds of prey, said the release went perfectly.

"She had a perfect flight as she took off," Santiago said. "She filled her belly this morning, and should have no trouble adjusting back to her natural habitat."

Article Video

A red-shouldered hawk is released to the wild

Also attending the release was Don Butcher, a motor route carrier for The Inter-Mountain who found the bird, took it to his home and contacted Santiago. Butcher also brought his wife, Monnah.

"It is wonderful to see the bird healed and going back to its home," Butcher said. "I think this is the prettiest bird I have ever seen."

Santiago thanked Butcher for helping save the hawk.

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photos by Beth Christian Broschart
A red-shouldered hawk is released Saturday morning near St. George in Tucker County after it was rescued and nursed back to health. Don Butcher, motor route carrier for The Inter-Mountain, found the injured bird in December while on his route, and turned the bird over to Jo Santiago of Flying Higher LLC. Dr. Jason Fallon, a Morgantown veterinarian, nursed the hawk back to health. See video of the release of the hawk online at

"I appreciate all you did to help this bird," Santiago said. "It helps others learn about raptors (birds of prey) and may encourage others who see an injured bird to help."

"I don't understand how anyone could hurt a beautiful bird like this," Butcher said. "After being this close to a red-shouldered hawk and seeing how beautiful they are, I don't understand how anyone could hurt them."

If you find an injured raptor, Santiago recommends getting help immediately because injured birds need specialized care.

"Put the bird in a box with newspaper on the bottom," she said. "Create air holes in the box and keep it in a very quiet spot. Avoid looking at the bird because it over-stresses the birds and can cause greater harm. Then contact an expert for help and direction."

For more information or to report an injured raptor, contact Flying Higher LLC at 304-636-6769.



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