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Soaring sky-high once again

Injured hawk set free after two weeks of recovery
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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As quickly as a female sharp-shinned hawk slammed into the window at a local golf course clubhouse was as quickly as she flew out of the hands of her rehabilitator Tuesday morning. About two weeks ago, the hawk severely injured itself when it chased a woodpecker – its prey – right into a large window of the clubhouse of The Ridge Golf Club in Auburn, said Martine Harmon, an employee at The Ridge Golf Course and Events Center. Unfortunately, Harmon said, the woodpecker died, but staff closely monitored the hawk, which was lying on its back and barely breathing. “It slammed so hard into the building it just wasn’t moving,” Harmon said. One maintenance employee called the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals while a bartender suggested they contact Gold Country Wildlife Rescue. Harmon said Kari Freidig immediately responded when she received the call. Freidig, a volunteer, said it took about 13 days for the hawk to recover. She said the hawk was unable to stand for two days. As its brain swelling slowly decreased, it was able to stand, eat and drink on its own and eventually fly. “She’s ready to go back home,” Freidig said Tuesday before the hawk’s release. Just a few short moments after the hawk was removed from its crate, it quickly wriggled free of Freidig’s hands and soared across the clear blue ski and headed toward a nearby wooded area. “This is the way it should be,” Freidig said. “It’s a really good example of volunteers from the community working hard for wildlife.” Freidig is one of about 30 volunteers of the non-profit Gold Country Wildlife Rescue, which has been serving the community for about 25 years. Diane Nicholas, vice president of the group, said in 2008 volunteers received about 4,100 animal-related calls from the community and responded to more than 1,100 animals. “It’s an incredible feeling to know you’ve helped an animal,” Nicholas said. She said they assist every type of animal except for bears and mountain lions. The group also holds educational programs at local elementary schools. As Freidig and Nicholas helped set the hawk free, Harmon was nearby watching and taking photos. She said lately she’s noticed a second hawk circling around the golf course and thinks perhaps the mate is looking for the downed hawk. Harmon said she’s happy she was able to see the hawk released back into the wild. “It was exciting,” Harmon said. “It was so strong and fast. I just feel great about it.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment.