From a little ball of white fuzz found orphaned after his mother was killed, Frankie has flourished despite his once uncertain future.
The red tailed hawk was rescued in early July from a nest overlooking Highway 97 in Coldstream, above Kalamalka Lake.
Frankie and his brother were just weeks old, unable to fly or feed themselves, when their mother was killed after being hit by a semi-truck.
If it weren’t for Coldstream residents Denis and Gerry Marson, and their sister Pauline Cummings, witnessing the accident, the young hawks may have never survived.
The Marsons routinely watched the hawks, as their patio overlooked the highway and the hawk’s nest.
“Everyday I watched them,” said Gerry. “So the day she was hit I just cried and cried. It was awful.”
Unsure of who to call to help rescue the young hawks, the Marsons were put in touch with the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls.
Despite being located near Oliver, SORCO volunteers made the trip up to Coldstream, and with the help of Horizon Tree Services, erected a boom to reach the nest.
Unfortunately one of the young hawks had died in the overnight storm, but little Frankie was still hanging on.
“He was so cute,” recalls Gerry, whose husband Denis had actually named the bird Frankie.
As cute as Frankie was, SORCO executive manager Lauren Meads admits they were uncertain if he would make it.
“We were a little worried at the beginning,” said Meads.
“He was a little guy, only three weeks old. He had just lost his parent and one of his siblings.”
But Frankie proved to be a fighter, and after initially hand feeding the little hawk every three hours, he went from a mere 30 grams to weighing one kilogram a few months later.
“He’s very feisty,” said Meads. “He’s eating lots, and he’s hunting really well.
“We’re really happy that he’s doing well.”
And four months later, Frankie was finally ready to spread his wings over his home turf.
With the Marsons and the original SORCO volunteers who had rescued Frankie on hand Monday, a cage was set in a field in the Commonage.
After a little coaxing, a much larger, mature Frankie exited the cage, glanced around and then took to the sky.
“I know I should be happy for him but I’m not,” said Gerry, instinctively worrying it might be too cold or scary for her feathered friend.
Despite her concerns, Meads explains the location is perfect for the hawk – being close to his parent’s range yet away from the busy highway, over grassy fields with a variety of trees for shelter.
For more information on the work done by SORCO, or to donate towards its efforts and plans to open a new rehabilitation centre in May 2013, visit www.sorco.org.
Visit www.vernonmorningstar.com for a video of Frankie’s release.