Sunday, February 7, 2010

How to approach a wild hawk

Thursday morning a hawk appeared inside our screened-in porch.  What on earth?  It was annoying that stink bugs manage to somehow get inside, but this was ridiculous!  I called the kids to come see.
“That’s a hawk” my four-year-old informed me.
“Are you sure it isn’t a giant pigeon?”  I asked.
“I’m sure.”
“How did it get in there?”  Then I saw it had used the door – knocking out the top panel.  I would think the hawk was too big to fit through.  Clearly the hawk felt the same way.  He was smashing from one screen to the next, never quite finding the exit it had created through the door.
“It should find it’s way out.”  I commented.  I started making the kids breakfast.  My four-year-old sat down at the table while my two-year-old stayed by the glass sliding door watching the hawk.
 “I’ll go around and open the porch door from the outside if we have time before school, but we need to be really careful.  Birds of prey are dangerous.”
“Then shut the door, mommy," says my two-year-old.  I look up and realize that she is talking not about the porch door, but about the sliding door connecting the kitchen to the porch.  There is now nothing blocking the hawk from my baby girl.  Without any of us noticing, she had silently slid the glass door ajar.  What was she thinking?  A good way to get the hawk off the porch was to let him into the kitchen?  Now she is reconsidering and tugging at the sliding door trying to get it closed but she is only two and having trouble.  I dash over and pull the door shut.
I need to get my older daughter to school and stop for groceries before the major storm expected tomorrow.  When I return home the hawk is still there, dive bombing my screens.  There is a reason for the term bird brains, I think with frustration.  I'm expected for lunch and a play date with friends near Warrington and it is already time to pick up my daughter from school.  Surely the hawk will find its own way back out.

Late that afternoon, my husband returns home from a week working in England.  He finds no family in the house but a hawk on the porch.  Wisely he calls his sister who has worked for an animal rescue center and also volunteers at the National zoo.

"Put on a baseball cap and don't look the hawk in the eye."  My sister-in-law advised.  "When you look a bird of prey in the eye, it signals a challenge.  One of the workers at the rescue center forgot this rule once when she was taking out an owl.  She looked the owl in the eye and it clawed her face."

With this reassuring advice my husband set out to free the bird.  Our wonderful neighbors from across the street were outside and agreed to come over and help.  My husband opened the door and our neighbor clapped her hands from the opposite end behind the screen.  Out the hawk flew.

This is probably not as useful information as most of the other advice you find on this blog, but I like to file away this kind of knowledge.   For example, years ago a diver who enjoyed swimming with sharks told me, "you always want to be laying parallel to the ocean floor when swimming with sharks.  Sharks judge how large you are by your height, imagining that like other types of fish, your breadth from that height must also extend out behind you.  Therefore, the diver warned, do not stand up tall or the sharks will think you are huge and be frightened away.  From this I stored the advice: stand up tall if near sharks.   Probably we'll never need this information, but you never know.  Strange things do happen.