“There’s a baby hawk over here,” she said. “It’s injured.”
Plump and yellow-legged, it had somehow tumbled from a nest hidden among tall, old pines. Her daughter, Jadyn, had found it.
It appeared dehydrated and its left wingtip looked broken.
Serah wasn’t sure what to do next, and neither was I.
I called the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and talked to our regional biologist, I.B. Parnell, who told me birds of prey are tricky to care for.
He referred me to a local licensed rehabilitator, Highland Animal Hospital in Augusta.
“They’ll know what to do,” he said. “Just take him by there.”
Once we arrived in a waiting room packed with pets and puppies, our little patient did what hawks do best.
He screamed – loudly and repeatedly – with the raspy, undulating screech that made his species famous.
The receptionist was unfazed. “I need someone up front, for a wildlife pickup,” she said, into a microphone.
The veterinarian said it has been a busy spring with imperiled wildlife. Other guests that day included three baby barred owls, far younger than our almost-fledged hawk.
What happens later? Often, injured birds of prey cannot be reintroduced to the wild and are moved to places like Georgia Southern University, which operates a raptor center for research and education.
Whatever the bird’s future holds, it surely trumps lying on the forest floor, unable to fly, awaiting certain death from foxes, coyotes – or a neighborhood dog.
Highland Animal Hospital, by the way, also accepts donations for its wildlife care programs.
SPEAKING OF BABIES: We are getting to the time of year when fawns are dropping, and you might encounter one and think it is lost or abandoned.
Usually, according to wildlife authorities, it isn’t – and is best left alone.
For the first four weeks of life, fawns typically spend 90 percent of their time alone, hidden in thick brush to hide from predators, especially coyotes.
The mothers intentionally avoid the area to protect their young.
Fawns have little fear and will lie motionless when approached, relying on their spotted coat to camouflage them. So if you are lucky enough to see one, enjoy the experience, but back away.
PEAFOWL ROUNDUP: The free-roaming feral fowl that have thrived for decades in a wooded corner of Martinez are getting the boot – or at least some of them are.
The peafowl, or peacocks as the ornate males are called, are descendants of birds first brought to a farm off Old Ferry Road just after World War II.
In recent months, their shrill calls and affinity for clawing for bugs in neighbors’ yards earned them a visit from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. Really.
“Complainants have advised that the peacocks run freely in the roadway, causing traffic hazards,” the incident report said.
Officers paid a visit to the landowner, Gerald Day Williams, who acknowledged owning just one “contained” peacock.
“Mr. Williams stated the other peacocks in question (app. 8-12) are stray and he has been unable to contain them,” the report said.
The county’s Animal Services Department was contacted for help in relocating the birds, the report said.
However, County Administrator Scott Johnson said the landowners agreed to initiate bird removal on their own.
“I understand they have caged several and relocated a few,” Johnson said, in an e-mail. “From the county’s perspective we are just monitoring at the moment.”
CANAL FISHING: Lots of people would love to take advantage of the Augusta Canal area’s fishing opportunities, but not everyone knows the best places, and how to access them.
If you want some help, River & Glen fishing guide Ben Moore will discuss how, when and where to fish along the Augusta Canal during “Gone Fishing” discovery walks scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday and again on May 27 at 3 p.m.
The walks start at the Lake Olmstead Canal Entrance at the end of Milledge Road. The walk is free for Augusta Canal Keeper Society members and $2 for all others. Reservations are suggested, but not required. Call (706) 823-0440 ext. 4.
SOUTH CAROLINA DEER: Hunters in South Carolina reported a small increase in the statewide deer harvest during the 2011 season, with an estimated 226,458 whitetails taken.
The sum, calculated using a Department of Natural Resources survey, was 1 percent over the 2010 harvest, and included 120,407 bucks and 106,051 does.
Although harvest figures were up slightly this past season, the state has observed a declining trend reflecting about a 30 percent overall decrease from the record harvest established in 2002, said Charles Ruth, the state deer and turkey project leader.
Other statistics indicate that approximately 125,450 South Carolina residents and 14,702 non-residents deer hunted in the state in 2011. Deer hunters reported an overall success rate of 72 percent, which is outstanding.