Veterinary Medical Case: Pets & Wild Predators

Cooper's Hawk- Adult
Adult Cooper’s Hawk

Warning: blog post contains images of an injured pigeon.

Back in November 2015, a pigeon of mine (9-year-old, male utility king) was nearly killed after a cunning Cooper’s Hawk figured out how to reach in and grab it through the bars of an isolation cage.

Miraculously, no vital structures were damaged, but the hawk came close to severing his trachea, esophagus, and major vessels. The pigeon recovered uneventfully after I administered appropriate analgesia, antimicrobial therapy, wound management, and nutritional support. He also had a crop puncture on the contralateral side which, of course, made feeding time fun. That, too, healed nicely with care.

I documented his recovery in a series of photographs depicting his wound healing progress through secondary intention. I placed a few (1-3) temporary interrupted non-absorbable sutures to help hold the skin flap in place; other than that, everything closed up on its own.

And he’s still feisty as ever; bites hard, too. Rest assured, I now relocated my isolation cages to an area inaccessible to hawks. I love having these magnificent predators around and I never thought an incident like this would occur. It hasn’t in the 20 or so years I’ve had pigeons, but it did, and I learned my lesson.

I hold no animosity towards wild predators of any kind as they are only doing what they can to survive. In this case, the Cooper’s Hawk saw an easy meal and tried to obtain it.

Please make sure your pets are safe while outdoors! Predator-proof your enclosures or move cages if you notice predators nearby. Supervise, if you can, your pets outside. Keep dogs on leashes and cats indoors. Keep your pets’ vaccinations current. Do not feed wildlife or leave pet food outside- this may attract more wildlife than you intended to! If you encounter wildlife, please respect their space!

I enjoy observing wildlife in their natural habitats, but it is important to remain safe while doing so!

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