Okay, so technically this isn’t a post about my garden. But since my Garden Journal is all about plants and animals this seemed to be the best place to tell about today’s adventure with a hawk– a Cooper’s hawk, I believe. (Click here for a great image of a Coopper’s hawk.)
While driving home from the mall on a busy road, I spied a brown bundle on the verge. At first I thought it was a paper bag, but as I drove past, my mind registered a pattern on the brown item: feathers. It had to be a hawk. And in the same instant that I recognized the feathers, my mind also snapped to another realization. Hawks do not sit on the side of the road like buzzards. This one must be hurt.
I had already turned onto a different busy road, but I U-turned at the first opportunity. After another U-turn, I came to the brown bundle which was indeed a hawk. I turned on my emergency blinkers and slowed down to get a look. Yes, indeed. It was hurt. It’s head was bloody and one eye had swollen shut.
I put the car in park. Fortunately, the woman driving the car behind me figured out what I was doing and slowed to a stop several yards away. I grabbed a car blanket from the back seat and hopped out. The bird didn’t move. I threw the blanket over the hawk and scooped it up, gathering the ends of the blanket together in a pouch.
A sharp pain bit into my palm. A talon had pierced the blanket and sunk into my hand. With astonishing calm (I truly amazed myself), I disengaged the claw and carried the hawk to my car.
Now what now what now what!
I have an injured hawk– a big one– in my car. It may be dying; it may only be stunned. It may snap out of it’s shock, escape its blanket and fly at my face– beak! talons! giant wings!– while I’m driving in Houston traffic. To my immense relief and worry, the hawk didn’t move.
Had I killed it? Had I wrapped it too closely and smothered it?
I’m already a fan of TWRC (Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition) on facebook, but my brain was too rattled to look that up. They have moved since the last time I had to take an injured animal there–no drama, just a sparrow– so I wasn’t sure where they were located. With my trusty iphone, I looked up animal rescue. It popped right up.
By the time I got there, the hawk was starting to wiggle. When I carefully lifted the blanket, the hawk thrashed. I held the struggling bundle in front of me at arms length. I went in exclaiming, “Hawk here!”
Gratifyingly instant action. A woman came and took the hawk, blanket and all, into an examining room where she turned the bird over to a different woman, a man and another woman who turned out to be the vet. I couldn’t go in, but after filling out the required forms and having my hand fussed over, cleaned and treated by the woman who had taken the hawk from me, I got to peek through the window.
I watched the vet examine the hawk while her leather-gloved assistants held it down. After a thorough examination, the vet determined that there were no broken bones and the damaged eye looked like it would recover. She said it had probably been hit by a car while diving after prey.
I left a donation for the hawk’s rehabilitation and left feeling very happy. The hawk looked quite miserable, but thanks to TWRC, he’ll get over it.
Photo by Al and Elaine Wilson, from: www.birdsisaw.com