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.