Sonny and the Red Shouldered Hawk

Injured hawkSonny was running back and forth in the wet snow, barking furiously in the direction of the back yard fence. Scott Lingamfelter’s yellow lab was normally quiet, he rarely barked. Something must have really attracted his curiosity.

At first, they ignored him. He will eventually calm down, they thought. Perhaps he saw neighborhood kids outside playing in the snow or building a snowman and he got excited.

It was a cold, snowy day, and everybody was enjoying the cozy fireplace. Scott’s son, Paul, decided to go outside and investigate the source of Sonny’s unusual barking and irritation.

Perched on the fence, resting, was a Red Shouldered hawk, totally unperturbed by the noise made by the agitated yellow lab. When seeing humans, the seemingly calm bird did not fly from his perch. He sat there motionless for hours, occasionally moving his head, uninterested to fly away in spite of Sonny continued barking.

After several hours, Scott decided to call the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fishers (DGIF), asking about this particular hawk. After contacting a raptor rescue, an individual arrived to capture and check the hawk out to make sure he was not injured.

To their surprise, the hawk could not fly away even if he wanted to flee. His wings were indeed damaged, not by another animal, they had been clipped. The hawk got away from his owner who held him captive by clipping his wings. He could not fend for himself but had made it as far as Scott’s back yard fence, causing the commotion with Sonny.

The hawk was very dehydrated and hungry. Caring and safe hands fed him and gave him water. He will be held and cared for until his wing feathers will grow back and he will be able to fly and fend for himself. New feather growth will take about a year and, if able to fly and feed himself, he will be released back into the wild.

Sonny, Scott's dogSonny “the rescue dog” saved the beautiful hawk’s life. Without Sonny’s canine instincts, Scott and his family would have never known the terrible condition the raptor was in. While the hawk is being cared for by the Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries, Scott Lingamfelter, a Virginia delegate, will post regular reports on his Facebook page on the hawk’s condition and progress.

Photos by Scott Lingamfelter

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