OBJECTIVE To evaluate gastrointestinal transit times in red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) by use of contrast fluoroscopic imaging and investigate the effect of falconry hooding in these hawks on gastrointestinal transit time.
DESIGN Prospective, randomized, blinded, complete crossover study.
ANIMALS 9 healthy red-tailed hawks.
PROCEDURES Hawks were gavage-fed a 30% weight-by-volume barium suspension (25 mL/kg [11.3 mL/lb]) into the crop. Fluoroscopic images were obtained at multiple time points after barium administration. Time to filling and emptying of various gastrointestinal tract organs and overall transit time were measured. The effect of hooding (hooded vs nonhooded) on these variables was assessed in a randomized complete crossover design.
RESULTS In nonhooded birds, overall gastrointestinal transit time ranged from 30 to 180 minutes (mean ± SD, 100 ± 52 min). Time to complete crop emptying ranged from 30 to 180 minutes (83 ± 49 min). Contrast medium was present in the ventriculus in all birds within 5 minutes of administration and in the small intestines within 5 to 15 minutes (median, 5 min). Hooding of red-tailed hawks resulted in a significant delay of complete crop emptying (no hood, 83 ± 49 minutes; hood, 133 ± 48 minutes), but no significant effects of hooding were found on other measured variables.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE These results indicated that overall gastrointestinal transit times are faster in red-tailed hawks than has been reported for psittacines and that the use of a falconry hood in red-tailed hawks may result in delayed crop emptying. Hooding did not exert significant effects on overall gastrointestinal transit time in this raptorial species.