Three weeks after being hit by a car, a beautiful red tail hawk made a full recovery and was released back into nature this past Saturday in Vandalia.
The adventure of the hawk nicknamed “Opal” began on July 22 when Vandalia Patrol Sergeant MJ Eberhart spotted the injured bird at the former Casey’s building on Highway 54.
Patrol Sergeant Eberhart said the hawk was around a dirt mound when he spotted it and knew it needed medical assistance.
The Vandalia Police Department, led by Vandalia Police Chief Christopher Hammann, contacted Conservation Agent Norman Steelman, who helped officers seek the assistance of the Raptor Rehabilitation Program through the University of Missouri.
Abby Rainwater, manager of the Raptor Rehabilitation Project, said “Opal” had a shoulder injury suffered when she was struck by a car. “Opal” also had issues with her eyes.
During the three weeks “Opal” was in the MU program, no surgery was required for her injured wing. She did have physical therapy.
“Opal” was also seen by an ophthalmologist to treat her eyes.
The female bird is an estimated 1-2 years old and weighs a little more than an average weight at 1,500 grams.
Abby Rainwater brought “Opal” back to Vandalia on Saturday as she was joined by her volunteer husband Lance and Patrol Sergeant Eberhart at the Vandalia Area Fairgrounds.
After posing for a couple of pictures with “Opal,” Abby Rainwater released the bird, who instantly flew into a nearby tree getting acclimated with surroundings that were not too far from where she was found injured.
“She was really fun to watch,” Abby Rainwater said. “She had a lot of spunk and was sassy.”
Abby Rainwater noted that she was thankful for the opportunity to see “Opal” return to the habitat as she usually doesn’t get to be a part of releasing the bird back into nature.
She noted that the project services around 200 birds a year.
Patrol Sergeant Eberhart smiled ear to ear as he watched the once injured bird fly back into a tree just three weeks after suffering a lot of trauma.
A job well done!