Friends of the Feather -- Daryl Petry (left), a safety engineer at TAPG, and Chris Hill, engineering safety manager at TMNA R&D, joined forces to call attention to the habitat needs of red-tailed hawks at Toyota's vehicle testing facility near Phoenix.
Back in 2008, team members at the Toyota Arizona Proving Ground (TAPG) near Phoenix noticed they had some high-flying company.
A pair of red-tailed hawks had built a nest on a utility pole on the grounds. They became even more concerned when, somehow, one of the adult birds died, leaving a chick behind in the nest.
So TAPG called in the local experts: Liberty Wildlife. The nonprofit brought the fledgling hawk into their rehabilitation center and nurtured it for six months, then returned it to TAPG for release.
Bird of Prey -- This is one of the red-tailed hawks that call TAPG home. Eight of the birds have been born in the nest since team members moved it to a purpose-built pole safely away from utility wires.
But the team members didn’t stop there. For the safety of the hawks – and to avoid power outages at the track – they erected a 50-foot pole near the original nest, then transferred the nest to the pole. This was no small feat, as red-tailed hawk nests are tall piles of dry sticks, measuring up to 6.5 feet high and 3 feet across.
But it was definitely worth it. Eight hawks have since been born in the relocated nest.
Over the years, TAPG team members have continued to keep a close eye on their feathered friends. In 2015, they found another orphaned chick that Liberty Wildlife nurtured to adulthood and returned to the grounds. Today it soars above the desert and the Toyota facility’s 12,000 acres.
Outdoor Classroom -- Students from nearby Nadaburg School learn about the birds and their habitat at TAPG.
And TAPG has partnered with Wildlife Habitat Council to turn the site into an outdoor classroom for the benefit of 5th and 7th grade students at nearby Nadaburg School. This outreach program is part of a coordinated effort to achieve Wildlife Habitat Council certification in the near future and nine other Toyota facilities that have already earned that distinction.
“The hawks are amazing to watch,” says Daryl Petry, a safety engineer at TAPG. “It’s nice to know we had the opportunity to provide the hawks with a safe nesting location. Many thanks to the wildlife specialists for helping us make this a success.”
By Dan Miller