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WATCH: Rescued red-tailed hawk released into wild

HARPURSVILLE (WBNG) — The Southern Tier celebrated Earth Day in a special way.

Cole, a red-tailed hawk was rescued at Nathaniel Cole Park last summer.

“When I got here Cole was perched with what we called caped wings” said Jimmy J’s Avian Rescue Center CEO Jennifer Whitcombe-Jones. “It’s when they raise their wings up and they kind of cape them forward to keep their body heat to themselves and it was a 90 degree day.”

Jones then took Cole under her wing and brought him to the Cornell Wildlife Clinic.

“I was sure he was going to die,” she said. “I thought I was delivering a corpse to the health center.”

During Cole’s stay at the clinic he was diagnosed with an advanced case of the West Nile Virus.

He was then transferred to The Finger Lakes Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Lodi, New York.

“Initially very, very, weak, very emaciated, so you had to be very careful with feeding in the beginning and then eventually you could feed normally, regain his strength,” said Finger Lakes Rapture Executive Director Morgan Hapeman.

Cole’s strength was tested Monday and his rescuers freed him back into the wild, where he was found, at Cole Park.

It was symbolic for one woman who wanted to see the hawk.

“The red-tailed hawk is my dad’s favorite animal and he passed away six months ago and his name was Cole,” said Mindy Alexander of Chenango Forks.

She says it all came full circle.

“My dad raised a hawk when he was younger and it was injured so it was like his favorite, so he said, whenever he went, it was time, he was going to come back as a hawk,” added Alexander. “So it was just like ‘whoa, you know, pretty cool’.”

A special moment many will remember and cherish, just like Cole will too.

“To celebrate his life and the fact that he overcame these horrible illnesses and could return home I think is just a fabulous, fabulous, thing to celebrate Earth Day and our environment and wild life,” explained Hapeman.

Cole’s rescuers say he has been cleared of the West Nile Virus.

Esperanza Gutierrez

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