Dr. Adamski works with New England Wildlife Center technicians and student interns to repair a red-tailed hawk’s feathers. This red-tail was admitted to the Center, unable to fly, with severely damaged feathers. The procedure they are performing to help this hawk fly again is called imping. Imping is the process of taking feathers from a deceased “donor bird” and epoxying them into the feather shafts of a live bird, who is in need of feather repair.
In order to complete this procedure, our staff and interns bought a live bamboo plant and cut strips from the woody portion of the plant. These strips were then dried over night and pressed between two pieces of construction paper with two heavy books placed on top. During the procedure, it was these bamboo strips that were inserted into the shaft of the donor feather and then into the shaft of the patient.
These feathers will help this red-tailed hawk fly again and will remain intact until she molts. In this case, the “donor” red-tail hawk arrived dead at New England Wildlife Center after being shot. The hawk in the video is the patient who is receiving the donated feathers. She is now doing very well and will be released.