The Hawk that Led Me to the Crow

There are times in one’s life when wine tasting just has to wait. Take today, for example. I was on my way out the door to attend a wine-tasting event when the phone rang. I let the machine answer to see who it was. When I heard my dad’s voice, I picked up the receiver in the event that it was an emergency.

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George, the hawk spotter. (Photo by Cynthia Bournellis, 2014)

An emergency it turned out to be. “Hey Cindy,” my dad said excitedly. “You’ve got to come over and see what I have in the backyard underneath your Pippin tree!” He’d come across an injured hawk and wanted me to come rescue it. He knew I used to volunteer at a local wildlife rehab center and figured I’d take the hawk there—if I could catch him.

I grabbed my cat carrier, some gardening gloves and a towel and raced over to my parent’s house. There it was, a red-tailed hawk in all of its feathered beauty, just beneath my Pippin tree like my dad said. My father, who’s 90 keep in mind, said he tried to catch the hawk but couldn’t because it kept skirting away.

I tentatively approached the bird of prey, but it stumbled backward, flapping its wings. It obviously was in some sort of distress, but its wings did not seem broken. And, its legs looked fine. Just as I was about to throw a towel over the hawk, it flew up and rest upon the top of the fence. I tried to coax it down so that it wouldn’t go over the fence and into the neighbor’s backyard where a couple of dogs lived. The hawk allowed me to get close enough to touch it, but before I could grab the bird, it flew on top of my father’s shed, and from there launched into a tall pine tree in an adjacent backyard.

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Red-Tailed Hawk. (Photo is in the public domain courtesy of Mark Bohn-U.S. Fish and Wildlife)

While resting on a limb, a number of adult mockingbirds began dive-bombing the hawk. I assumed that the hawk was near a nest of baby mockingbirds. The adults pecked at the hawk’s wings until it flew from the tree and out of sight. I went to the house where the tree resided and asked the homeowner if I could check her backyard. She said she had seen the hawk earlier that day and had called animal control, which came out but failed to retrieve the bird. According to the homeowner, the hawk had been in the neighborhood for a couple of days.

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Black crow. (Photo courtesy of http://www.publicdomainpictures.net)

We searched her yard some more but found nothing. So I walked down the street hoping to find that the hawk had landed somewhere in plain view—still nothing. As I searched, I noticed a black crow hobbling on the grass. Its left leg was broken, and it was having difficulty getting flight. I slowly approached the bird and threw the towel over it. I gently lay the crow in the cat carrier, and as I removed my hands, our eyes met. The crow’s eyes were black as coal as it stared at me, quiet as could be. I can’t imagine how frightened it must have been, not knowing what its fate would be. But, I spoke softly to the beautiful creature, reassuring him (or her) that everything would be okay and he’d be up and around in no time. Hopefully, he sensed reassurance in the soft sound of my voice. The crow lay quiet until we reached the wildlife center, where I knew he’d be in good hands.

While I may not have saved the hawk—hopefully it’s not injured and was just having an “off” morning—I did rescue another keystone species. So, all in all it was a good start to my day. I think a glass of wine is now in order.

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