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Tattered Jeans

A natural rush: Watching injured wildlife get returned to the wild is stunning

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11 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 red-tailed Hawk #1 and Sharon Schmalz
Sharon Schmalz with a red-tailed hawk ready for release back in to the wild Photo by Katie Oxford
1 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014
Welcome to the Clear Lake Nature Center. Photo by Katie Oxford
4 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Sharon Schmalz - Executive Director of the Wildlife Center of Texas
Sharon Schmalz, executive director of the Wildlife Center of Texas Photo by Katie Oxford
8 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Sharon reaching for first hawk
Sharon reaching for first hawk Photo by Katie Oxford
17 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Red-Tailed Hawk No. 2
The magnificent red-tailed hawk Photo by Katie Oxford
21 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014
Hawk No. 2 prior to its release Photo by Katie Oxford
Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 empty cage
Shadow of an empty red-hawk on its former cage Photo by Katie Oxford
Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Red-Tailed Hawk returned
The red-tailed hawk, returned to the wild Photo by Katie Oxford
20 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Applause and appreciation
Applause and appreciation Photo by Katie Oxford
Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Viewing Blind
The viewing blind Photo by Katie Oxford
11 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 red-tailed Hawk #1 and Sharon Schmalz
1 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014
4 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Sharon Schmalz - Executive Director of the Wildlife Center of Texas
8 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Sharon reaching for first hawk
17 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Red-Tailed Hawk No. 2
21 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014
Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 empty cage
Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Red-Tailed Hawk returned
20 Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Applause and appreciation
Katie Oxford Clear Creek Nature Center hawk release January 2014 Viewing Blind
News_Katie Oxford_hair cut_column mug_head shot

If you’ve never attended a Wildlife Release, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s almost as good as runnin’ naked in the woods. 

So when I read in the Wildlife Center of Texas Newsletter that they were having another Wildlife Release, I grabbed my camera and made a beeline to Dr. Ned and Fay Dudney Nature Center in League City. So did about a hundred others.

This time, on a cold, blue-sky morning, two Red-tailed hawks were returning to the wild courtesy of Sharon Schmalz, executive director of the Wildlife Center of Texas, and her dedicated team of vets and volunteers.

 Three Roseate spoonbills flew directly over our heads. Then, a bald eagle. Our group sighed in unison. 

 

There’s no telling how many Wildlife Releases Sharon’s performed. When I asked her, she couldn’t tell me. She did say without hesitation though, “This is our favorite part.” Mine too.

Seconds before the release, three Roseate spoonbills flew directly over our heads. Then, a bald eagle. Our group sighed in unison. Someone behind me said wistfully, “A bald eagle fly-over. Right here at 9:30.”

Mother Nature had given the perfect cue. Sharon slipped on her raptor gloves and reached for the first hawk. This one, she explained, had suffered a head injury.

“This guy’s ready to go,” she said. Indeed he was. He took flight so fast that the one shot I fired from my camera wasn’t even close.

 The second hawk had come to the Wildlife Center with a fractured wing but you’d never have known it this day. He took to the air and made a hard left. 

Some folks walked in his direction. Most stood applauding.

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