Hawk tangled in kite string gets a feather implant

As my southern mama used to say: "Try to put a new wrinkle on your brain every day." Today's wrinkle is my newfound knowledge of "imping," the implanting of donor feathers from a deceased bird onto the hollow feather shafts of an injured bird.

A red-shouldered hawk arrived at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Boyce, VA after the hawk had been found some 80 feet in a tree at the Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton, VA. The bird was found hanging by a kite string from a branch. Northern Virginia Parks employees, with the assistance of a local tree service, managed to free the hawk and transport it to the hospital at the Wildlife Center. The feather damage was extensive, but they were able to repair them using a process called imping.

"With the bird under anesthesia, matching feathers (e.g. the first primary feather of a donor red-shouldered hawk is used to replace the first primary on this one), is cut to match a cut level made to the original feather shaft. A skewer/dowel/other similar item is expoxied into the donor shaft, then that is expoxied to the shaft on the receiving bird. Once this has all set, it's extremely secure. The bird will molt before that glue breaks down. Everything must be prepped and cut before hand and only feathers from the same species can be used. It is extremely tedious work, but it does allow birds who are only in care for missing feathers to fly and be released sooner."

After about two weeks in care, this hawk was returned to the park where it was found.

Here is a brief video with more photos.

[H/t Eric Brown]

Image: Screengrab