Countdowm Continues to 80, 000 Releases
BY MELANIE BUCK –
Tommy Young of the Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center is now only 59 releases away from a total of 80,000 rehabilitated and released wildlife. A Broad-winged Hawk, his latest release, was returned to the wild on Friday, November 7, at the Visitor’s Center on majestic Rich Mountain.
An unusual find in Southwest Arkansas, the Broad-winged Hawk was found in Ft. Smith in September when he was hit by a car. Young put a titanium pin in the hawk and has since, rehabilitated the Broad-wing and prepared him for his migration.
They take the longest migration route of any North American Hawk and usually stay much further north of Arkansas. Young explained, “He’s probably the only Broad-winged Hawk left in Arkansas right now. On September 22, every year, the Broad-wings migrate all the way to the tip of South America, in Argentina.” Young said you could set your clocks to the day when the great migration of thousands of Broad-wings pass over the top of Rich Mountain. Called a ‘kettle,’ Young said tens of thousands of hawks migrate together and look like a tornado in the sky.
“I had to wait for a strong enough front to come through before I could release him so the front will push the warm air and carry the hawk across the Gulf,” said Young. He also explained that since the hawk is an adult, he’s traveled in the migration before, and knows the way so he can make the trip without the kettle. If he were a juvenile that had never made the trip, Young would have to wait until next September 22 to release him so that he could travel with the experienced mass migration group. The hawk will travel about 200 miles a day and the front will carry him more than half of the way.
“Most hawks that stay around here in the winter have an anti-freezing type blood in their feet that keep them from freezing, and he doesn’t have that, that’s why they have to migrate.”
Young added that he needs help from the community. Currently, he is asking people to bring their raked leaves and acorns, no black walnuts please, to the Center located on Hwy. 270W, at the base of Rich Mountain. You can place the bags in front of the Center if no one is available. The leaves and acorns help housed wildlife with the hibernation process while in the rehabilitated stages.
Keep watching The Pulse for Young’s future releases.