By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A young Red-tailed Hawk from the nest at the Franklin Institute has been released less than a month after he was injured in an apparent collision with a car. It’s a bright end to a difficult summer for the birds, and their fans.

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When the bird was taken to the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic, his chances were slim (see previous story). But the scrappy fledgling nicknamed Peanut defied the odds, despite a spinal injury. Assistant Wildlife Rehabilitator Michele Wellard says he healed more quickly than expected.

“As soon as he started getting well, he really started getting well,” said Wellard.

The hawk soon graduated to a 50 foot flight cage.

“We needed to know that he could fly well, and that he could catch his own live food,” said Wellard.

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Wellard says Peanut aced the tests, and was released last Thursday at a secret location with everything a hawk needs: places to perch, abundant prey, and, “most importantly, it’s a safe location where it’s not likely that he’ll be hurt by a window or a car, like he and his siblings.”

Birds are killed and injured every day. A small number are lucky enough to be taken to rehabbers, and some recover and are released. This year alone, Wellard says at least 100 hawks have come into the clinic.

Although he’s a wild animal, having been watched on the Franklin Institute Hawk Cam page from hatching to fledging, Peanut achieved a loyal following, some of whom felt slighted by the lack of notice about or details of his release. But Wellard says what’s best for the bird was the only consideration.

“It was time to let him go. We made the decision based only on his needs, his current and future well-being,” said Wellard.

Now he flies free, once again a wild bird.

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