I Know I Left A Bird In Here Somewhere

One afternoon I was making myself a cup of tea, glorying in the fact that I had no critical care birds to worry about. Naturally, the phone rang. It was a man who had seen a young Red-tailed hawk bounce off the car traveling in front of him. He and the man driving behind him both slammed on their brakes, swerved, screeched to a halt and rushed out into the middle of the road, where one stopped traffic and the other managed to throw a coat over the injured hawk and put him into the back of his car. They then exchanged wide-eyed looks. Now what?

After making many phone calls, they reached me. “Please help us,” said the man desperately. “We’ll bring him to wherever you live. Please – he really doesn’t look too good.”

And this is the wildlife rehabilitator version of having a baseball sail over your head and into the stands, while you stand, slack-jawed, watching it go. The bird is injured, and the people want to help. There’s nothing we can do, because most of us can’t say no.

Two cars pulled into the driveway, and two guys jumped out. One opened his back door and there was the hawk, perched unsteadily on a blanket. I picked her up, her eyes closed, and she went limp. I looked up to see the men staring at me in disbelief: the Hawk Wizard had just killed their bird. “Uh-oh,” I said lamely.

We brought her into the house, where she regained consciousness. She had a concussion, a bloody leg wound, lots of bruising, and was very thin. But she wasn’t dead. The men gave me their phone numbers, then exchanged them; a friendship forged by an auto/avian almost-calamity. The hawk needed intensive care for a couple of days, so instead of putting her in my clinic, I put her in a crate in the extra bathroom.

Two days later she was feeling much better, and I wanted to give her crate a thorough cleaning. I put her on the floor and closed the door, thinking she was too sore and skinny to get off the ground. Major wildlife rehabilitator miscalculation! I returned and couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out where she went. Then I looked up.

They say you should save water by showering with a friend, but in this case I’m a little leery.

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About suziegilbert

I live in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley and have been rehabbing birds for over twenty years. I’ve written a memoir about the slippery slope all rehabbers eventually slide down, called “Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings,” published in 2009 by HarperCollins; and a children's book called "Hawk Hill," published in 1996 by Chronicle Books. I also write all kinds of freelance content. Please see my website, www.suziegilbert.com
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5 Responses to I Know I Left A Bird In Here Somewhere

  1. Thomas says:

    Suzie, just wonderful! As a suggestion and as a newbie here, I hope someday you can find someone who can do a follow-up to the Exxon-Valdez tragedy. I’d love to hear from someone who has continued the ongoing effort to rescue and save the birds who continue to suffer from that horrific mess caused so long ago. It’s the side to these stories we never get to hear about from our “media.” Thanks for inviting me. ♥

  2. Cronin says:

    Great blog idea. Great piece. Keep them coming, Suzie.

  3. suziegilbert says:

    Thanks, John!
    And thank you, Thomas, and great suggestion. I’ll see if I can get one of the rehabbers who was in the thick of it to write something. Best of luck with all your rescues, too …

  4. Barbara Glanz says:

    Hope is the thing with feathers… so glad to have come across your blog and your work. You have a new fan from Long Island! My “rescues” have been of the backyard-nature; more funerals than fly-aways, but we keep trying. Bless you!

  5. suziegilbert says:

    It’s those fly-aways that make it all worth it. Welcome to the group!

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