Several years ago I had the unique experience of rescuing a hawk. I often saw them flying close to my home and even 15 minutes away at work. I admired their beauty and strength as they flew.
This hawk was not flying. He was in the driveway beneath my garage door windows on his back with his feet in the air. It appeared that he had attacked his reflection in the garage window or didn’t pull up fast enough while chasing some flying lunch. Thankfully I had parked outside my garage or I would have driven over him!
Since he wasn’t moving I had to check to see if he was alive. As I considered my options I imagined the morning news “Woman beaked or clawed to death while attempting to rescue a downed hawk!”
Since I had my shoes on I gently nudged him. He quickly stood up and just sat there on the concrete driveway dazed and staring into space. Being a nurse I recognized that this bird was in shock. I got a blanket to wrap him in to keep him warm as I explained to him that I wanted to help him.
I quickly did some research. On the garage window there were tiny feathers like the ones on the head of this bird; so that pretty clearly told the “what happened” part of his dilemma.
Next I had to find out who treats injured hawks. After calling a local vet I found out that because the hawk was a raptor he had to be taken to the local raptor center for help. I called the Raptor Center and was delighted to hear that they were about 30 miles up the highway from me, instead of in another state!
My next question was how in the world do I drive 30 miles with a majestic bird with claws and beak that could shred me to bits and who could suddenly wake up and be terrified?!!! The answer was quite simple.
The staff member informed me that he would be quiet and still as long as he was in the dark. Put him in a box with a lid. (Oh great, Where was I to find one of those that he would fit into!!)
Fortunately among all of the boxes in the garage I found just the right one. (I knew this worked for parakeets and canaries but a hawk? Well long ago royalty placed hoods over the hunting birds’ heads and they sat still, so that made sense.)
He hadn’t moved since I left him covered with a blanket. So I gingerly but firmly closed the blanket around him and put him in the box. As I drove the thirty miles alone (all my neighbors were at work) I kept peeking over at the box in the floor on the passenger’s side. No movement, not a squawk.
We arrived and I carried the boxed bird inside. I explained what had happened and donated what I could to the cause and left. I asked that they call me later to let me know how the hawk was.
About 4-6 weeks later I got a call from the Raptor Center. The hawk was a male who did have a concussion. They had cared for him and he had been rehabilitated and would be released back near my house. I was thrilled!!
Now every time I see a hawk in my general vicinity I greet them in my mind, and consider them to be “my” hawk. Often I wondered if he came back to my house or saw me or did he avoid the area considering his accident. I was so happy and very proud of myself for risking eyeballs, fingers and flesh to rescue that beautiful creature.
My only regret is that I did not take any pictures of him. But I did have a few other things on my mind at the time!
Fly and live long, bird of beauty and power.
Years later I have since had several encounters with hawks of a much less stressful, intimate nature. I moved to a city nearer Raleigh but far enough away for there to be wild life around. I still see hawks flying near by at different times. I used to volunteer at a cat rescue thrift store. One day I was leaving my car and saw a hawk flying over the shopping center where the store is located. He stayed there flying up high and I had to watch his graceful movements.
At least twice a hawk has flown in front of my car. One time I was at a stop light and one flew across at eye level about 10 or 15 feet in front of me! I was thrilled! Another time one flew across in front of my car about 30 feet away and about 10 feet high when I was driving.
The most impressive encounter happened when I was driving a friend out in the country along a country road with empty fields on the right side. A hawk flew a long beside us at about 50 yards away in the air about telephone pole top level. He flew along at that height and distance for about half a mile if not longer. It was hard to drive safely and watch it fly right there along with us. Fortunately there was not much traffic.
Most of these were either red tailed hawks or roadside hawks. I don’t know much about the different kinds because I claim the red tail hawk as my hawk. I know it sounds whimsical, but I think their flying so near me so many times is my reward for rescuing that one hawk over five years ago. I love hawks!