On Monday August 7th my son asked, “Mom, is that a hawk?”
I responded with, “Yes, it is. I’ve been hearing it all morning.”
The hawk is my favorite bird, with the bald eagle coming in a close second. I see them often, soaring in the sky above or being harassed by the crows or landing in a tree behind my house. I knew though, that there was something different about the hawk we were hearing that day. To me it sounded like a juvenile, like it was a young hawk calling out for it’s parents.
Early Tuesday morning I looked out my kitchen door and saw a bird sitting on my fence. At first I thought it was an owl but upon a second glance I knew it was a hawk. It was a fledgling. The one I heard the day before. Rain was forecasted and soon after taking my first photos and videos, the skies opened, and it poured for hours. The fledgling sat out all day exposed and vulnerable. He found comfort on my neighbor’s fence, close to her faux owl and when the sun finally came out he had the opportunity to dry his wings.
Wednesday came and went with no sign of my little fledgling. But on Thursday he showed up in my yard. I caught sight of him in the bushes by our pond and immediately grabbed my phone. I wasn’t the only one paying attention to our visitor. Mae, our dog and Magee our cat, were paying close attention. When I heard dog paws running down the stairs I knew it was time to act.
They were curious about the hawk and so was I. He moved from the grass to the fence and then up to my canopy where he stayed for a while. This was when I began to make some phone calls. I reached out to the Salem Animal Control Officer and Maria at Wings of the Dawn. Thinking perhaps this little guy was injured (he also had twigs stuck in his beak) I felt the need to do something. But before anything could be done, he disappeared when I wasn’t looking.
And that was that. Or so I thought.
Later that day I spotted him again in my next-door neighbor’s backyard. He was at ground level, moving from the ground to a pile of stacked bricks and then to a pile of pond stones. He wasn’t trying to fly at all. In the meantime I had learned that fledglings can spend several days at ground level as they learn to fly, but my intuition was telling me this was something more.
Once again the skies opened, and it poured. And once again that little guy sat out there, exposed to the elements. The darker it got, the more concerned I got. I prayed that little hawk made it through the night.
On Friday morning there he was in the exact same spot.
My husband and son were at work, and I was without a vehicle. My next-door neighbors, although I appreciate them and have enjoyed living next to them, they are not what you would call, animal lovers. They knew the hawk was there, but they wouldn’t have taken any action. So, the moment I heard them leave I ran out barefoot and wearing pajamas to assess the situation.
I got within a foot of the bird. He didn’t try to fly away. He opened his wings, opened his beak, and dropped back like he was sitting down. I nearly burst into tears. This little guy needed help.
I came back into my house and sat quietly with my hand on my heart, which was pounding out of my chest, and I asked for guidance.
Not only is it normal for fledglings to spend time at ground level as they learn how to fly, but their parents will continue to feed them as they learn. I hadn’t seen any large hawks besides one that had flown over the previous day. This was my dilemma. Let nature takes it course and hope the parents are coming to feed him or intervene and do what I can for this little fella.
I jumped up and ran for a towel and gloves.
Still barefoot, still in my pajamas, heart still pounding in my chest, I slowly approached the hawk and wrapped a towel around him. He attempted to fight for about a second and then became still. He didn’t have the energy to fight or to try and take flight. He couldn’t fly. He was weak. He wasn’t eating. He needed help.
Throughout all of this I had been texting and talking with my friend Inge. Inge is deeply connected to the earth and wildlife, and I knew she could help me navigate this experience. I had a call out to the Animal Control Officer who was unavailable, and I spoke directly with Maria from Wings of the Dawn, who confirmed I made the right decision by helping this little hawk. She was ready to help but that meant driving the bird an hour north and I didn’t have transportation. (I’m car sharing with my son) As I was leaving a message with NH Fish and Game, Inge called. She said, “I’m coming over and we’re driving this little guy up to Henniker.”
Anyone who travels north on I93 in New Hampshire on a Friday afternoon in the summer knows how bad the traffic can be. It took us awhile, but we made it. As nervous and anxious as we were, we made it to Maria’s doorstep. She had IV fluids ready to go and she immediately started nursing him back to health. Within a few minutes of receiving fluids, our little fledgling hawk started flapping his wing and acting more lively.
Maria explained that after a couple of days of tending to him, she would put him in a 50-foot-high enclosure where he will learn to fly and hunt. And in a month’s time she will release him back out into the wild. Both Inge and I felt so much gratitude for this woman who has dedicated her life to the rehabilitation and release of wild birds and small animals.
If you’d like to know more about Wings of the Dawn, click the link below.
Wings of the Dawn – Wildlife Rehabilitation Center & Bird Sanctuary
I put together a video of the experience.
You can watch it here!
My heart is full of gratitude for my willingness to help this little guy and for Inge who came to our rescue and for driving us north. And for Maria, who I called the following morning to see how the hawk was doing. She reported he was doing much better and that he was going to make it. Yay!
I have so much appreciation for this fledgling broad-winged hawk who came into my life and for the experience of helping him and for the message he brought me.
Shauna, it’s time to fly.
Self-Awareness and Transformational Coach, Inner Child Advocate, and Yin Yoga Teacher.