Sep 17

Remembering Luka

Back in 1997, a young Swainson’s Hawk was brought to our Centre. She was sitting on the finder’s hand, had jesses (raptor leashes) on her legs, and was taking mice from the hand. Staff were told that they had recently found her and wanted to turn her into our hospital for care.

The bird was in good health, so she was put into an outdoor cage with the other hawks. It soon became apparent that something was wrong. The bird was overly friendly to humans and the other hawks showed aggression towards her. 2 years later, the young hawk turned into her adult colours. This was the final piece of the puzzle as Swainson’s Hawks take 4 years to reach their adult plumage. She had clearly been held in captivity illegally for 2 years. Her comfort with people now made complete sense.

During those first 2 years, we named her Luka, and began using her in education programs with great success. Executive Director, Carol Kelly, and Luka travelled all over Alberta to hundreds of schools for 12 years.

Luka became a bit unpredictable when, at the age of 14, she began to lay annual eggs. This lasted for only 3 years, but it was decided to put her into retirement and allow her to spend her last years relaxing. Swainson’s Hawks have an average life span of 16-19 years.

Last week, at the age of 23, Luka suddenly passed away and was buried on our nature trail overlooking the wetland. She may have started her life by being stolen from the wild but in the end she had a good, long, healthy life and influenced thousands of children and adults. 

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