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Oklahoma State University
Center for Veterinary Health Sciences

Healthy Animals - Healthy People

Freedom Release

Friday, July 7 2017

3 people release a hawk

Just before the July 4th holiday several members of Oakcreek Senior Cohousing Community, located in Stillwater, joined Dr. Joao Brandao of Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences to release a red-shouldered hawk the group named ‘Freedom.’

“We don’t name wildlife under our care at OSU’s Veterinary Medical Hospital,” explained Brandao, assistant professor of avian, exotics and zoological medicine. “So when it’s time to release the animal and in this case a red-shouldered hawk, we let those assisting with the release name the bird.”

The hawk was just a baby when it was brought to the Hospital about four weeks ago.

“They sometimes fall from the trees when there is a storm or something that pushes them out, such as a sibling if the nest is crowded,” said Brandao. “We don’t know what happened. Our objective was to try to get him to an age that he would be able to fly well, be on his own, and hopefully survive in the wild.

“He’s a younger bird based on the color of his eyes and his juvenile plumage,” added Brandao. “We kept him for a few days until he was eating well on his own and then we transferred him to one of our flight cages where he could exercise his flight.”

Even though Freedom was a younger hawk, Dr. Brandao showed the group that the hawk’s talons were powerful and his wing span was wide. He also had a federal band on one leg which contains a unique number. Should the hawk be found again, that number would help trace information back to the Hospital as to the location and health of Freedom.

It was time to release Freedom. With Brandao in the middle, Dr. Sidney Ewing, Emeritus Professor, on one side and Ms. Pat Tweedie on the other, they held Freedom and, on the count of three, released the hawk back to his natural habitat. Special thanks to those attending with Ewing and Tweedie which included their spouses Margaret Ewing and Steve Tweedie, along with Ulrich and Karen Melcher, Kay Stewart, and Eve Barbaria.

The hospital treats more than 500 wildlife cases a year. To support the veterinary medical care provided to these animals, contact Chris Sitz, senior director of development with the OSU Foundation, at 405-385-5170 or

Contact: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences | 405-744-6740 |