“Come quickly!” my wife hastened, “there’s a giant hawk lying in the middle of the road.”
What do you when you find yourself eyeball to eyeball with a helpless bird of prey.
The beautiful brown Cooper Hawk was too crippled to fly. His piercing yellow eyes showed fear and pain, but despite the rumpled condition of his body, there was no blood; he could barely drag himself, inches at a time, along the asphalt road.
The first thing I did was to carefully get him out of the busy street where, at dusk, he wouldn’t last long. His large, powerful beak or imposing talons could easily puncture human flesh. I grabbed the tip of his wing — he angrily craned his beak — and finally placed him in yard of my neighbor. Then I went to call for help.
Starting with animal control and the humane society, I encountered seven straight recorded messages — none with a number of how to reach a live person. It was so-called “after hours” and since I couldn’t hand-carry the bird
to transport him to safety, my only hope was to procure the services of a trained professional.
Meanwhile, Joni went back to check on the hawk.
We’d been having other hawk issues lately. One
neighbor who raises a few chickens combatively sshusshes hawks away regularly.
Recently we had heard a loud thump at the rear sliding glass door, only to find a juvenile hawk lying on the concrete. Later he had revived himself and flown away.
“It’s nesting season,” Animal Control had informed us, “and they see their own reflection in the glass.
Maybe that would explain the mystery of what happened next.
“It’s gone — must have flown away,” said Joni, returning from her mission.
I marveled at its resiliency but wondered how an animal so badly hurt could recuperate so rapidly. That night I went to bed feeling gratitude that perhaps one of God’s magnificent creatures had been spared.
But maybe it hadn’t. The next morning as I walked passed the house of neighbors Patty and Cliff Saunders, I noticed a clump of grey/brown feathers next to the shrub. As I approached the hawk, it lunged mightily to safe haven inside the branches. Its condition had deteriorated.
I knocked on Cliff’s door, mainly to warn him of the hawk’s close proximity to his driveway. Immediately he began dialing for help. When I returned later, Cliff had placed a bowl of water in the bushes and erected a cardboard shield to block the searing sun.
By this time I had become emotionally tied to the hawk — had even given him the nickname of “Maravich,” one of the Atlanta Hawks’ most remarkable players.
At 4:30 Cliff checked in and from the look on his face the news didn’t appear good. He had reached Dr. Michael Bowen of PAWS in Ocklawaha (352-288-3228) and the two of them had placed Maravich in a net to tender aid.
Once hooked up to an I.V., the hawk immediately flapped its wings and came to life, but was taken to emergency care.
“The hawk was badly injured. Dr. Bowen looked him over and didn’t see anything broken,” said Cliff. “Thought maybe he had suffered a concussion from hitting a car.”
A week later I called PAWS. Dr. Bowen said he had taken the badly dehydrated Maravich over to Happy Tails in Ocklawaha, where it had been nursed back to health by Dr. Lisa Bright, whom he said has worked for free seven years on these injured animals. “She’s treated everything from a bear to baby wild boar,” said Bowen. “She’s amazing and we all owe her debt of gratitude.”
Once they determined the hawk could fly again and forage for food, Maravich was released. “He’s back in the neighborhood, looking for squirrels and rats,” he said.
Bowen did say he would write the name “Maravich” on his file.