Just released after being rehabilitated, a red-tailed hawk paused in a tree before flying away. It was released Saturday near the spot where it had originally been found — the screened pool enclosure of J.B. Mitchell's home in Clearwater.
It was rescued from the enclosure last month in a collective effort by Clearwater police, Audubon Eaglewatch and the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. The hawk had become trapped after gaining entry through a hole it had ripped in the screen, Mitchell said.
The hawk was initially discovered by a man cleaning Mitchell's pool.
Clearwater police were alerted, and they contacted Barb Walker of the Audubon Society. An officer attempted to encourage the bird to leave by opening two of the enclosure's doors. Eventually, the bird was captured and transported to the sanctuary for evaluation.
"Red-tailed hawks are seen frequently and do nest in Pinellas County, including in cell towers," said Walker.
"They are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act" she said. "They prey on small mammals, particularly rodents, other small birds and reptiles.
"Use of rodenticides should be avoided as not to affect this species, as well as other birds of prey, such as owls and bald eagles," added Walker. "They are often mistaken for eagles, but can be identified by their light-colored chests with a dark belly band."