The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

We have 4 Cooper’s hawks that were born in our neighborhood some time ago. They’re adolescent birds now, so they’re spending a lot of time hunting and squawking at each other.

Typically, only 1 or or 2 make it to this age from what I’ve heard from our tree guy. So to have four is a big deal.

Last night I came home and 3 of them were in the same tree when the fourth arrived with something in his talon. The others figured it must be dinner time and rushed over. They all picked at it until finally the one dropped it. Turned out to be a pine cone. Wah wah.

I did a little research on these birds and they are one of the most common type of hawk. They’re a medium sized bird and mostly hunt other, smaller birds and critters. We have a ton of hummingbirds around us too, and surprisingly, they make a a lot of noise too.

Another thing I learned about these hawks. They evidently shit white paint, all over my car.

These hawks remind me of a funny-ish story from about 10 years ago. It was in our old neighborhood in Chicago.

I was out walking my dog and noticed my neighbor Margaret looking at something. It was a small hawk on the ground. It was about the age of the ones around me now. It was old enough to be out on it’s own, but not full-sized and it was being stalked by a cat. Margaret was worried for both animals and said she thought the hawk might have an injured wing and wanted to help it out.

So I went back to my house and grabbed our dog’s metal crate. I came back with the crate and a pair of yard gloves. The hawk hopped around Margaret’s yard a little bit, but wasn’t hard to catch. I gently wrapped both hands around it like I was Jim Fowler taking it to the “Tonight Show.”

I held the surprisingly subdued raptor and admired its sharp talons as inserted it into the dog crate. That was all it took to bring the bird back to life. It went berserk and flapped it’s wings and shrieked. Worried it might hurt itself more in the cage, I yanked it out and let it go and it flew up onto another neighbor’s roof. Apparently the wings were working.

I took the crate home, and grabbed the dog to finish the walk we had started earlier. When I came back around the block, the hawk was back on the ground hopping around again. So I took the dog home, got the yard gloves and brought the hawk to our backyard where I thought it would be safer.

The poor bastard I should have left well enough alone.

Then I started Googling trying to figure out who to call to come get the bird, and possibly hand me some kind of honorific for being such a great steward of wildlife. Instead, I learned that I had broken several laws and could be sentenced to 2 years in prison and subject to a minimum of $10,000 in fines for violating the migratory bird act.

I eventually got a hold of someone at a bird sanctuary about 2 hours from Chicago. I lied and told him the bird just happened to be in the backyard and appeared injured. He told me I could bring it out to them and they could nurse it back to health. Since it was just a Cooper’s hawk, and not rare at all, they probably wouldn’t bother.

It was a little bit of a downer to find out I wasn’t saving an endangered species. At least I could get on with my day of not doing anything useful for the environment.

I went to check on the hawk, and he had keeled over and died. I felt terrible, and yes, I probably accelerated his inevitable death by a day or two.

So I put the gloves back on, and wrapped my hands around his rigid body. Figuring such a majestic bird deserved something better than a garbage can funeral, I tossed him in the creek behind our house for the closest thing to a burial at sea.

So, if those 4 hawks in my neighborhood are reading this, just know that if something happens to you here, you’re on your own.