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Desert hawk found safe, hungry and with a tick, back at Quechee nature center

  • Paige, the Harris's hawk who flew away from Vermont Institute of Natural Science in mid-July, is fed chicken and quail by Anna Morris, one of Paige’s trainers at VINS on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Quechee, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

  • A name plate for Paige at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Quechee, Vt., on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Paige, a reddish brown desert hawk, flew away from Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Quechee, Vt., on July 13, 2021. (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/3/2021 3:38:13 PM
Modified: 8/3/2021 5:34:20 PM

QUECHEE — The desert hawk that flew away from the Vermont Institute of Natural Science is home after three weeks in the wild.

A trainer at the Quechee nature center retrieved Paige, a reddish-brown Harris’s hawk born in captivity, from the backyard of a nearby home in Quechee around 8 p.m. Monday.

“She has lost a significant amount of weight. She has a tick — we all can sympathize with that. She’s a little bedraggled. She’s been out for these last eight thunderstorms,” said Anna Morris, one of Paige’s trainers at VINS.

VINS acquired Paige over a year ago from a breeder in Paige, Texas, so the female raptor could participate in the nature center’s public demonstrations. The center helps hundreds of injured birds each year, but Morris said those birds cannot participate in flight demonstrations.

Normally, Paige weighs about 2.2 pounds. During her foray in the wild, she lost nearly a third of her weight and now weighs only about 1.5 pounds.

Morris said Paige likely found some food but was not able to get sizable prey that would compensate for her usual diet at VINS, which consists of mice, rats, quail, chicken and rabbit.

Once she was recovered, staffers at VINS gave her a whole quail.

Although Paige remained elusive for weeks, she doesn’t seem to have strayed far from home after flying off July 13. Morris said the family that identified her in their yard lives about a quarter-mile from the nature center.

“Paige was actually sitting on their back deck, on their railing,” Morris said. “All the trainer had to do was walk up to her and offer her the gloved hand, which she knows is a safe place to be. She seemed to be really keen.”

On Tuesday morning, Morris went into work as early as she could to see Paige, who Paige kept “peeping,” which is “a babyish begging call — a very, very anticipatory hungry call.”

Normally, Paige participates in trainings and public flight demonstrations daily. However, the VINS staff is giving her some time off as she recovers. She spent Tuesday in her mew, where Morris said she is “very, very comfortable.”

“I don’t want to ask anything of her today,” Morris said. She said Paige will be going “back to kindergarten” when it comes to flight training. When Paige flew the coop, Morris had been trying to entice the hawk into flying over a group of staff members in preparation for a public demonstration.

“She’ll be on R & R for at least the next week,” Morris said. “She’ll get her full share of meals with no strings attached.”

Claire Potter is a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at cpotter@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.




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