Harris’s Hawk – Salsa

Name: Salsa – Female

Species: Harris’ Hawk

Liberty Arrival: June 3, 2008/Nestling

Injury/Condition: Trichomoniasis disease

Salsa was a nestling that was near fledging when she was brought to Liberty Wildlife after being found on the ground in Phoenix.  Medical services staff discovered that Salsa had contracted Trichomoniasis or canker that was deeply embedded in the right side of her lower mouth and mandible. As Salsa’s treatment progressed, the tissue on the right side of her mouth sloughed off, leaving considerable scarring. This scarring reduced the size of her mouth opening, consequently limiting the size of food she could swallow and her ability to eat quickly. In the wild, these limitations would result in her starving to death because she could not consume sufficient food fast enough to survive the competition. The disease also caused her beak to be slightly malformed, hindering her ability to eat quickly.

Harris’ Hawk Facts

Also known as the “Wolves of the Sky”, Harris’s hawks can be found in the southwestern United States (Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) through Central America and into the drier parts of South America. In Arizona, its range typically extends only as far north as Wickenburg. The Harris’ hawk is one of only two hawks known to hunt in a cooperative group manner (The Galapagos hawk is the other).  It displays one of the most advanced group hunting tactics among birds.

Life span: The average life expectancy of the Harris’ hawk has been estimated to be up to 12 years in the wild and twice as long in captivity.

Prey: The majority of its prey consists of mammals such as cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits, rats, ground squirrels, gophers. Their diet is also supplemented by birds, primarily Gambel’s quail, and reptiles.

Babies/Nests: Nests of sticks and other materials are built in or on top of solid structures such as trees, saguaros, electric or telephone poles. The female usually lays 3 to 4 eggs and incubation lasts between 31 and 36 days.  The young fledge in about 40 days.