GRASSHOPPER: Swainson's hawk
Grasshopper is a male Swainson's hawk that came to the Center in March 2006, when he was about one year old. He was deemed non-releasable because of cataracts. The cataract on the left eye could not be completely removed, and adequate vision could not be restored, so Grasshopper can never see well enough to hunt. He is therefore non-releasable.
Grasshopper had been trained as an education bird for the Center. He stays extremely calm when out "on the fist" before an audience, and has participated in many off-site presentations. In addition, he is frequently brought out for visitors at the Center.
Grasshopper got his name not only because he seemed like such a "young warrior," but because Swainson's hawks will mostly eat insects for nine months of the year and are especially fond of grasshoppers and locusts. He is an extremely mellow bird and patiently stays on the fist, even helping us train new handlers.
Grasshopper is a wonderful ambassador to the public for the Swainson's hawk. And his story reminds us how important it is for all of us to become Good Samaritans—to report and rescue injured raptors whenever we find them and to get them quickly to licensed facilities with trained staff and appropriate resources.