Necropsy Summary

The final report did not add much to the preliminary results.  Here is a summary of the final necropsy report:

On 9/29/2012 volunteers with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory trapped and radio-tagged Lakota, a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk in the Marin Headlands.  On 10/04/2012 she was found dead on Angel Island by radio-tracking volunteers after several days of limited movement.  On 10/5/2012 she was brought to the California Animal Health & Food Safety Lab at UC Davis for a necropsy.  Despite some decomposition of Lakota’s body, the veterinarians provided some interesting insight.  First, Lakota had some muscle atrophy in her breast muscles.  This suggests some nutritional stress which is not uncommon for birds during long-distance migrations.  Despite that condition, she did have small fat deposits present, suggesting starvation was not imminent.  Although the results were not conclusive, the speculated cause of death was a 4-6mm hole in her back that pierced through the muscles and ended in one of her lungs.  Blood around the wound indicates she was still alive at the time she was punctured.  No exit wound was present, and no foreign debris was found in the wound, indicative that it was not caused by a bullet or from a BB gun.  The size of the wound is consistent with a Red-tailed Hawk talon; however, we cannot rule out other sources or predators.

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