Trio rescues injured hawk Koko

By Kelly Nicholaides- August 4, 2017 (

CARLSTADT – After he was found emaciated and on a sidewalk near a bagel shop on Aug. 3, an injured hawk that Carlstadt neighbors named “Koko” is at The Raptor Trust rehabilitation facility.

The juvenile red-tailed male hawk is part of a family of four that keep Garden Street rodent free. Resident Bruce Young said he learned about the hawk, also known as #17-2967 on the site, when he got a call from Carlstadt Bagels & Deli at 326 Garden St., where he is a regular. The young raptor was named after the Korean animation studio that did the “Dark Knight.”

“[Koko’s] father was on the fence and mom was hunting. Koko was on a sidewalk and standing on one leg,” said Young.

How Koko got injured no one knows, but his foot was clearly in need of attention.

Young, the bagel shop owner and a police lieutenant carefully coaxed Koko into a container for transportation to his first stop on a journey. The trio used a flat piece of cardboard to scoop Koko into a cardboard box.

“I took a peek inside, and he seemed okay. He wasn’t flapping around. He was cooperative with police, didn’t resist our help,” said Lt. Denise Kimak.

The next stop was the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, which takes hawks in to provide a stable, warm and comfortable environmental before volunteers make transports 45 minutes away at The Raptor Trust in Millington.

“We’re like a halfway house for these raptors,” said wildlife coordinator Donna Pontrelli of the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital. “Koko was down and out. He was emaciated, probably wasn’t able to hunt for food.”

Hawks get stressed easily, so Pontrelli said Koko was not immediately placed on an x-ray table. Instead, he was given warmth, dimmed lights, quiet comfort and a tall bowl of water.

“Then he stood upright in that beautiful position, just chilling. But he was holding one leg up a little, curling it in, not really extending the feet, which are like weapons,” Pontrelli said.

At The Raptor Trust, Koko received vitamin shots and was being prepared for an X-ray. He weighs 665 grams, but should be around 800.

“He’s thin and dehydrated, holds his left foot like a ball, so there’s some impact or injury to that side,” said Kristi Ward, senior rehab technician. “He may just need a ‘pad foot’ for a while to keep the foot open.”

The facility sometimes gets up to 30 raptors in per week, she said. The center has an over 50 percent release rate.

“A lot of times the parents stopped feeding them, after weaning them off so the fledglings have to eventually fend for themselves,” said Ward. “Sometimes they get hit by cars or they get injured in some other way. When they come to us, we provide the best care we can. Some succumb to their injuries or they’re able to be successfully released but we can’t guarantee it.”

Red-tailed Hawk facts

Description: A medium-sized bird of prey known as a raptor. They have long, broad wings and short, wide tails with reddish brown color. Juveniles lack the red tail. Females are about 25% heavier than males.
Call: A raspy, scraping, screamed “kree-eee-ar.” The raspy cry of the Red-tailed Hawk is used in movies to represent any eagle or hawk anywhere in the world.
Habitat: One of the most widely distributed hawks in the Americas. It breeds from central Alaska to Florida, the West Indies, and Central America. It occupies a wide range of habitats and altitudes, including deserts, grasslands, forests, agricultural fields and urban areas.
Diet: Small mammals, including rodents and rabbits. They also eat birds, reptiles, fish and insects.
Nesting: Build nests in tall trees, often the tallest tree in a cluster or on cliff ledges. Towers, nest platforms, and buildings are also used for nesting. The nest is a collection of sticks lined with bark and other material.
Babies: Both adults help incubate the 2 to 3 eggs for 28 to 32 days. The female stays on the nest and broods the young for the first 30 to 35 days after they hatch. The male brings food to the female who to feed the young. After 42 to 46 days, the young leave the nest, but they can’t fly for another 2 to 3 weeks.
Behavior: Red-tailed Hawks are well adapted for soaring and spend long periods riding thermals, searching for prey. It is frequently seen sitting on utility poles.