Saturday, August 6, 2011

Trauma Followed by Joy

I was working this morning in my office.  I heard a "clunk" and actually felt the house shake.  I figured something had fallen off a sliding stack in one of the kids' rooms, or a big limb had fallen.  I went around to investigate, and in front of our front kitchen window saw a hawk lying on his side, with a small prey bird inches from his mouth.  The hawk was still breathing so, following my normal routine with injured birds, I covered him with a big cardboard box.

I called all over the place, trying to find someone to come help this bird.  Raptors are in a special category -- you can't just take care of them yourself, you need to have permits. I couldn't get any live people just answering machines.

The clunk against the house had been so solid, I was sure this bird would die.  It was a beautiful Cooper's Hawk and I was really distressed.  We figure he had been chasing the little bird, probably caught it, but grabbing it, lost his flight trajectory and crashed into the window as he made the turn.

After about an hour, my daughter went to peek at him to see if he had stopped breathing (because I couldn't stand the thought).  She came into the house shouting, "He's standing up!  He's alive!" We both jumped up and down. She added, "His wing is at a weird angle, so I think he's injured."  We renewed our efforts to find someone to deal with him.

We called Raptor Conservancy -- answering machine.  Wildlife Rescue -- answering machine.  Exotic Animal Vet (takes care of our parakeet) -- they were willing to help if we could get the bird there.  They suggested trying the Animal Shelter for someone first-- Called the shelter -- they had just opened (hadn't been when we called earlier) and they told us to call the non-emergency Animal Control number at the police station.  SUCCESS!  They sent an officer out.

He uncovered the hawk and said, "Oh, he's fine" and clapped his hands to get the bird to move.  The officer said the bird was a full-grown, BIG, Cooper's Hawk.  In reaction to the noise, the hawk scuttled along the front porch to the corner.  He was still holding his wing at an awkward angle.  The officer (who had leather gloves on) said, "You don't want to go where I'm going to have to take you. Let's see if you can fly." He picked up the hawk (making it look simple), and lobbed it into the air.  The hawk immediately grabbed some air with its massive wings and flew up high into the tree tops above my neighbor's house.  Daughter and I cheered!

I love happy endings.  Watching a gorgeous bird recover and go back to what God designed it to do best is true JOY!  He'll probably be sore -- like me after one of my bike accidents -- but perhaps he'll remember not to do that again!

Even though we think he is gorgeous, the officer told us Cooper's Hawks are the nastiest of hawks. He said he'd rather pick up an eagle than one of them!  So obviously, beauty does not correspond to easy going temperament.  Big surprise there, right?

I didn't get any photos - it all happened too fast. But there are many beautiful photos of Cooper's Hawks on the net, taken by wildlife photographers and I don't want to 'steal' their photos to illustrate my blog.  If you want to see photos of Cooper's Hawks that look like the one in our yard, go to these sites:

Lloyd Spitalnik

E.J. Peiker


The Bug said...

I'm so glad he ended up being ok! I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been as resourceful as you were.

Sweet Tea said...

Beautiful story and like you, I love a happy ending too!