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Powell River hikers rescue northern harrier hawk

Northern harrier hawk

NOT AN OWL: This unusual hawk with eyes in the front of its head, instead of the side, and a facial disc that focuses sounds to its ears, like owls, was found sitting in the middle of the road by hikers as they were driving to Granite Lake.

When they tried to catch it, the northern harrier hawk flew hard to escape but collapsed back to the road, starving and weak.

It no longer resisted and Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society founder and president Merrilee Prior met them to complete the rescue.

Food had to be held up to the hawk’s mouth; it was that exhausted. As it gained strength it was sent to Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta, where another harrier was recovering.

Hatched in May/June with three to four siblings, the parents try to keep them fed for about a month before they push them out of the nest without checking their hunting skills, although juvenile harriers do learn through play, pouncing on inanimate objects.

They have a very broad tail, which allows them to hover over and harry their prey, and to hunt in tight spaces. It also explains why Britain’s Royal Air Force created and called their fighter planes the “Harrier Jump Jet.”

The recovering northern harrier hawks will be released in the Lower Mainland, where they can feast on an abundance of voles and mice before migrating again in spring.