Two Water Management Specialists had no idea that they’d bear the mid-afternoon summer heat to become the heroes in a battle of birds.
While walking in the Palm Desert office parking lot on June 3, Brent Stewart saw ravens circling a lone struggling hawk. Several times, the hawk landed nearby under a tree, then would try to fly low a short distance. The ravens continued to pick on the hawk until Brent shooed them away.
By then Rene Ramirez was on the scene. “The hawk settled in the shade. He was limping and his tail feathers were ruffled,” he says. “He looked overheated and in bad shape.”
Brent kept an eye on the hawk and the ravens while Rene called the Living Desert and Riverside County Animal Control, which responded quickly.
While this was Brent’s and Rene’s first rescue, “You could tell it wasn’t the officer’s first bird collection,” Brent says. He wrapped the hawk in a towel to calm the bird before taking it to the Thousand Palms county shelter for an overnight stay. The next day, the hawk was delivered to the Coachella Valley Wild Animal Center in Indio. Here, the story has a loose end.
The center is swamped with hundreds of distressed birds, including ravens and hawks, at this time of the year because of the heat, says Linda York, the center’s executive director. She can’t recall the specific CVWD bird but suggests it was probably a Cooper’s hawk, a common bird of prey in the West. Most of the birds brought to the center in the summer recover and are released.
Brent and Rene’s actions drew kudos from their boss, Conservation Manager Jena Shimmin. “I commend them for going above and beyond to help an animal that not many would have taken the time to assist.”