Last Saturday morning I took Sassy, our rescued 13 year old Shih Tzu, on her regular morning stroll in our backyard. We live on a heavily wooded lot with pine trees reaching up 90 to 100 feet. We were just about at the base of one when Sassy jumped backwards. I looked down and there was something on the ground covered in grayish down. I said, what the hell, and called my wife Deb to come look at it. I thought it was a gosling, since we live on a small lake and have both geese and ducks.
Deb picked it up to see if it was alive and it flapped its tiny wings and gave out with a god-awful screech. It didn't have webbed feet - it had talons. We had a baby hawk that must have fallen out of a nest somewhere way up high. We have hawks in the neighborhood since I've seen them attack squirrels and other birds. What to do on a long holiday weekend? The web said that it was best to leave it alone. A parent might come feed it on the ground if it hadn't been abandoned. If it had been abandoned, there was a local wildlife rehab agency that would probably take it, but that couldn't be done until Tuesday after Memorial Day.
Another problem is that we have 5 or 6 feral cats in the neighborhood that some idiot feeds, and an active fox that prowls around regularly. Saturday went by and we just kept an eye on him. He seemed to be sleeping, or perhaps recovering from a big fall. There were no visible injuries. It was going to be a cold night in the low 40's and we didn't want him unprotected from that and possible predators. Deb decided we should use Sassy's crate and bring him up on the deck next to the slider. I wasn't sure that was a good idea since he might screech and upset Sassy.
I explained to Sassy that we just had a temporary guest we were trying to help and she seemed to understand. She never bothered the hawk - just walked by and sniffed it. He was quiet all night and on Sunday morning we put him back in the yard where we found him. He moved around a little on his own and we appropriated a large laundry basket to cover him and keep the cats or fox away. We left him there Sunday night.
On Monday morning we took away the basket. In the afternoon he began moving around and munching on some greenery. We noticed he was being bothered by a bunch of flies. Maybe his plumbing had started to work and they were being attracted by that. The poor guy kept trying to swat them with his beak and little wings. We thought about trying to move him out into the yard, but decided to leave him. Early in the evening Deb thought she heard his mama calling and him answering.
On Tuesday morning he was gone!!!! There were no signs that he had been taken by a predator, so he must be back safely in the nest. It was a Red Shouldered Hawk, a common species in NC suburbs. The picture is from the web, not an actual one I took.
We were able to help save a life. If you don’t know CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver to save a human life, take a course. I took them years ago, but am planning to take refreshers soon.