My friend, has been tending for a Red Tailed Hawk for the past 26 years. The hawk is now 31 years old and serves as a strong teaching tool and educational animal ambassador at the Lake County Forest Preserves. With a badly injured right wing, the future was uncertain for a 4-month-old red-tailed hawk found near Highland Park in the summer of 1988. The hawk was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation facility, but after healing, it could only glide short distances. It was unable to gain enough lift to soar and hunt, and as a raptor both skills are necessary for survival in the wild. The Lake County Forest Preserves staff recognized this hawk could touch many lives as an ambassador for birds of prey. So a home was built at Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods where the bird became an honorary environmental educator. She lives outside year-round in an enclosed structure, called a mews, built specifically for her. The mews protects her from stormy weather and predators, and provides a secure place for her to feed and nest.
The hawk, now 31, is tended to by environmental educators. Volunteers also donate their time each weekend. Staff members maintain regulatory permits and complete required government reports that hold the Forest Preserves accountable for her care. Because she is a wild raptor, staff refrains from assigning her any human attributes like a name. This helps communicate to the public that wild animals are not pets and should always be handled with caution and care.
On average, red-tailed hawks live between 10-21 years in the wild and up to 29 years in captivity.