Hawks rescued in Alice released into the wild by Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue

Melissa Cantu Trevino
Alice Echo News Journal

Nearly a month after a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks were rescued in Alice, the birds were released back into their natural habitat.

On Friday, June 11, the juvenile birds were taken to the Hazel Bazemore County Park in Calallen by rescuer Krystal Lozano and volunteer Nancy Jordan. Lozano and Jordan are two staff members at the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue and were part of the hawks' care.

A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks rehabilitated at the Texas State Aquarium after being rescued in Alice during a strong wind storm in May.

The two birds were found in Alice after they fell from a nest during a wind storm earlier this summer.

“When the birds fall out of the tree they're called fledglings. The fledglings sometimes can fly, but they haven't quite mastered that skill. With the nest falling out, the birds seemed stunned,” said Jesse Gilbert, chief operating officer at the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue.

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The aftermath of that strong thunderstorm in May had neighbors at the Forest Creek Subdivision in Alice cleaning up tree branches that had fallen throughout the neighborhood. During the cleanup process, neighbors rescued the pair of feathered friends.

Texas State Aquarium Volunteer Nancy Jordan and Rescuer Krystal Lozano release a pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks.

Sandra Guzman-Ruiz called the Wildlife Rescue Center for instructions on how to care for the hawks and her neighbor, Russel Gruber, went to work. Gruber put on some gloves and with the Wildlife Center employee's instructions retrieved the hawks and placed them in a kennel.

“We met them halfway, between (Corpus Christi) and Alice, brought them to the rescue center and had a full evaluation. They didn't have any medical issues. They just needed to grow up a little bit more,” Gilbert said. “Our goal here at the Wildlife Rescue Center is to release every (animal) back into the wild.”

Jaime Pena, Wildlife Care Manager at Texas State Aquarium,   carefully inspects a Red-shouldered Hawk before its release.

The Red-shouldered Hawks were not named. Lozano said they don't name the animals they care for because it's hard not to get emotionally attached.

Lozano and Jordan were ready to release the hawks.

With clear blue skies and sunshine, the women chose a perfect spot to release them at the Hazel Bazemore County Park where the hawks would be able to stretch out their wings and take flight without highways or power lines close by.

One hawk wasted no time in taking to the sky as its sibling took a few minutes to peak its head out before flying out. There other hawk flew around and then perched itself on a branch and took in the scenery.

Rescuer Krystal Lozano prepares a Red-shouldered Hawk for release.

The Wildlife Rescue Center program at the aquarium has been around since the mid-90's. They work with shorebirds, raptures, sea turtles and all the marine mammals on the Texas coast, Gilbert said.

Rescuer Krystal Lozano and Wildlife Care Manager Jaime Pena prepare Red-shouldered Hawk for its release into the wild.

The rescue center is one of only a few in the nation that can take in marine animals, sea turtles and birds. It's also one of the more active programs on the coast, he added.

“This year, earlier in February, we saw about 1,600 sea turtles come into the program," Gilbert said. " It's single-handedly one of the most important conservation things the aquarium does. Getting endangered species back into the habitat to try and get those species back up and going.”

Gilbert thinks one of the most interesting things about rescuing wildlife in Texas is that “Texans care about their wildlife.”

Also released was a baby Screech Owl at the Pollywog Pond Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Wildlife Rescue Center reminds everyone that marine mammals, birds and sea turtles are wild animals and can potentially cause humans harm. If anyone sees an animal in need, the rescue center asks you to reach out to a Wildlife Rehabilitator in Nueces County.

Wildlife Rehabilitators for Nueces County