Friday, July 20, 2007

Expect the Unexpected

Now, most folks would not expect an adventure from the monthly meeting of their favorite local quilting group, "Designing Women". My friend, Patty Phillips, and I expected to be attending a pizza party at Harriet's lovely home in the Tanoan subdivision of eastern Albuquerque. All seemed normal until my cell phone rang. The distraught woman on the other end said she had an injured hawk and would someone please help. My mind wandered to the rest of the Hawks Aloft staff that might be available to respond since I was already obligated and enroute to the meeting.

Then, I asked the woman where she was located. The answer, Tanoan East, set in for the the theme for the next few hours. Off we headed to our new destination to catch, yes! catch, the fledgling Cooper's Hawk, that was still on the lam, although unflighted. A small group of neighbors awaited our arrival in the upscale neighborhood. The woman pointed to the small hawk, perched on a low wall beneath the shade of a pine tree. I assessed the situation, knowing that even an unflighted hawk can run really fast, and at an average height of 12", would be able to run under, through, and around obstacles that my 5'5"frame could not manage.

Satisfied that help had arrived, all the neighbors disappeared into their homes and closed their doors, leaving Patty and I to solve the problem alone. It felt a little like the Stepford Wives movie as we faced a now abandoned neighborhood and one small bird. I grabbed a sheet and Patty chose a towel for our capture tools. As expected, the resulting chase might resemble a Charlie Chaplin movie, with two humans in pursuit of one small bird. Over walls, through shrubs, across the street, up the stairs and, finally, into a courtyard where Patty and the Hawk joined hand and foot.

Now, with bird in hand, we set off for the quilt meeting. Raised eyebrows greeted our unorthodox arrival. But, ever the trooper, and used to Gail's Life with Birds, Harriet and Susie found a box. I gave the hawk a drink of water, and we set him aside in a quiet room. At the same time, I was calling wildlife rehabilitator, Meg Dahrling, to see about getting the hawk to her. Ordinarily, this would be the end of the story, but . . .

Only her voice mail answered, and I was to leave the following morning for a quilting trip. We tried again, unsuccessfully, to reach Meg. I believe I left a message like, "Meg. I have an early morning flight, and I am getting depserate. Please call!".

Later, at the Hawks Aloft office, we thawed a frozen mouse and fed the hungry little fellow, and decided that our only option was for Patty, a project manager for the US Army Corps of Engineers, to assume custody. (Imagine for a moment, the look on her husband's face when she walked in with their house guest).

In the end all was well and the hawk was delivered to Meg the following evening after work, along with the seocnd Cooper's hawk that Hawks Aloft delivered to the Corps of Engineers building the following morning, but that's another adventure. Patty became the focal point of office activities, and now several of the staff at her office are more well educuated about the plight of fledgling hawks that get into trouble once out of the nest and poorly supervised by their parents, much like the errant human teenagers that run afoul of human determined social restrictions.

At last report, the little fellow and his female counterpart are doing well, and eating voraciously at Meg's rehabilitation facility. Both have some sort of injury that prevents flight, but as of this writing, the cause has not been determined. For this human, the only badge of honor is the large slash and scrapes across her her calf when the hurtle over the large rose bush failed.

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