Rescuers helping hawk hurt by RI landfill burners

A red-tailed hawk is being nursed back to health by wildlife rehabilitators after apparently suffering serious burns from methane burners at the Central Landfill in Johnston.

The bird, affectionately called Phoenix, was found near an area under construction at the landfill.

"It's amazing that he survived the flare. They're completely singed off. There shouldn't be any space between the quills he should be completely feathered," said Vivian Maxson of the Born to Be Wild Nature Center.

"It could have been burned while perching on one of the flares that burns off gas. It also could have been burned by flying over a flare that burned the gas. We're not sure," said Krystal Noiseux of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp.

It's not uncommon for birds to be injured by burners at landfills, power plants and other industries.

Noiseux said it is teaming up with a specialist in Massachusetts to make changes to protect the birds.

There are only about a handful of methane burners at the Central Landfill, and even though they're going to bring in a specialist, Noiseux said they can't do anything about the flares because they don't own them.

Broadrock Renewables owns the burners and it's up to the energy company to put protective devices on the flares.

Maxson said she hopes the energy company does so she can return Phoenix home once it recovers.

"His mate might be back there waiting for him. Because they mate for life, so I'm tempted to take him back there," she said.

But only if it's safe for Phoenix to soar.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.