You Never Know When you Will Meet an
Animal and it Will Change Your Life Forever.
Montezuma, a Bald Eagle brought to Hawk Creek for treatment in 2001, did just that. Montezuma broke her wing during a massive windstorm at the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge and was brought to Hawk Creek for care. From the beginning she was a very different patient; there was something very special about her. Montezuma refused to eat, and she refused to live. She sat motionless in her hospital cage facing the back corner. Our wounds were still fresh from the September 11th tragedy that happened only 3 months earlier. In a time of patriotism, the staff at Hawk Creek felt that by aiding this eagle, we would also be helping to heal our Country. Montezuma’s strong, almost sacred presence forced us to ask, why was she here? Here was our national symbol, damaged and without spirit. While we agonized over her apparent lack of will to survive, we maintained hope for her recovery.
During surgery, our vet deemed the wing irreparable. Hawk Creek’s Executive Director was faced with the impossible decision of whether to amputate her wing or to euthanize her. Amputation meant that she would be forced to spend the rest of her life in captivity, a life that she made clear she did not desire. Many of Hawk Creek’s volunteers were already overwhelmed with tears. With a burdened heart, our director called the vet and told him to amputate the wing, taking away her gift of flight that was everything to her. Montezuma, however, made her own choice— she stopped breathing the moment her wing was cut.
Montezuma’s spirit craved the freedom she would never achieve in flightless life. Montezuma came to Hawk Creek with a mission— not to live, but to die. Her death drove the director into action to realize the eagle sanctuary that she had always imagined: a large, natural enclosure to permanently house eagles who can never return to the wild. It is a place where these magnificent creatures can share their stories with the public, and inspire visitors to protect the natural world.