Tuesday, July 5, 2022

One of the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledglings has passed away

I'm heartbroken to report one of the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledgings died on July 4. The cause appears to be frounce, a naturally occurring illness that afflicts raptors.

Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledgling with frounce

According to the Modern Apprentice (a well-regarded falconry site), frounce "is a highly contagious yeast infection of the digestive tract. Frounce is caused by a protozoan called Trichomonas which is frequently present in the crops of pigeons, but can also be in other birds such as sparrows or starlings." 
 
Hawks become infected when they eat infected prey. It causes white plaque to grow in the mouth and throat, and can lead to the inability to eat or breathe.

Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledgling with frounce

These photos were taken on the afternoon of July 3 and the hawk had no outward signs of the disease. It flew around the park with its siblings, and was also observed being active just hours before it passed.

Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledgling with frounce

The sudden death suggests the hawk may have been unable to breathe, but a necropsy will be done by the DEC to determine the actual cause of death. I'll post the results when they are available.

Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledgling with frounce

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