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From fender to freedom, Gordon the Red-Tail has new lease on life

Clockwise, from top L: "Gordon", as he arrived at the Gordon Hotel in Eugene; flying off at Mt. Pisgah 65 days later; soaring over the trees at Mt. Pisgah.
Krystal Bliss, Brian Bull
Clockwise, from top L: "Gordon", as he arrived at the Gordon Hotel in Eugene; flying off at Mt. Pisgah 65 days later; soaring over the trees at Mt. Pisgah.

A red-tailed hawk found embedded in a car’s grille last fall has recovered from a broken pelvis. The raptor – named Gordon – was released yesterday at Mt. Pisgah.

The hawk got its namesake because it was discovered outside the Gordon Hotel in downtown Eugene, stuck to a guest’s vehicle. Front desk agent Krystal Bliss recalled a valet showing her the hawk’s situation that November day.

“I was like, uhm…what, excuse me?” Bliss told KLCC. She had the vehicle moved to a more private spot so not to draw passerby’s attention to the distraught bird.

“He was trying to…he would pull his wings up and be defensive, and it was kinda hard to watch.”

Bliss called the Cascades Raptor Center. 15 minutes later, Ulrike Streicher, director of rehabilitation, arrived, and carefully removed the bird over the course of two hours. Both Bliss and Streicher remember the situation being very fraught and tense for everyone.

After 65 days, Gordon the red-tailed hawk takes flight again

After 65 days of care, therapy, and training, Streicher released Gordon back into the wild on the west side of Mt. Pisgah.

“He was in perfect condition and today we could release him so, we wish him luck.”

Among those watching was Jared Tarr, the intern and volunteer coordinator for Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah. He told KLCC that the area is a supportive habitat for raptors like Gordon, and this is at least the second release they’ve had of a rehabilitated bird in the past year.

“It’s a great synergy we have with the Cascades Raptor Center,” said Tarr, watching Gordon glide across the treeline. “It’s heartwarming.”

Streicher said Gordon’s release was delayed due to the recent stormy and wet weather, noting that the red-tailed hawk’s ability to hunt and establish a territory was better in the warmer, drier conditions seen Thursday. She also praised the immediacy Bliss demonstrated in calling the Cascades Raptor Center, and considers this a great success story in how people can respond to an injured or distressed raptor.

After showing her the KLCC video footage of Gordon’s release, Bliss grinned.

“It’s so beautiful, and I like that….I like when everything comes full circle.”

©2023, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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