A Winter Rescue

By Kaz Skoczylas

The score was Green Bay Packers 7, Chicago Bears 0 in the NFL divisional playoff when the phone rang. It was my sister Wanda D’Agostino asking if I could respond to a call from someone who had reported an injured hawk by the side of a road.

As I neared the location, there was a police car and another car pulled over to the side near a five foot high snow bank at the edge of an open field. The caller, Ara, had noticed the injured hawk on the side of the road. As I exited my car, I saw the hawk now hopping away on the frozen snow, heading for the woods. While it did not break the crust of ice on the field, I was not so lucky. As I followed it, each step caused me to crunch down through the ice crust and into the three feet of snow below. Each step was getting harder and harder, especially carrying a pet carrier in which I hoped to place the injured bird.

After 10 minutes of walking and sinking and an occasional fall to a sitting position, I silently beseeched the hawk not to hop any further. My weight seemed to double in the ice/snow mixture and each step became more difficult than the last. As I was about to abandon any hope of catching the bird, Ara began to trudge through the snow between it and the woods. The hawk stopped hopping and I got a renewed hope of catching it.

A few more minutes and I was next to the injured bird. It opened its mouth in a sign of defiance, yet I had the feeling it knew I wasn’t there to harm it. Throwing a towel from the carrier over it, I gently lifted it up and placed it in the carrier. Now came the long trek back to the car and warmth.

Ara had joined me now and we began walking back toward the road and car. I asked her if she could carry the carrier and if I could follow in her footsteps. When she told me she was a hiker and a dancer, I knew providence had chosen the right person to report the injured hawk. I gladly followed her footsteps and slid down the snow drift onto the road.

After thanking Ara for her call and wait for assistance (about an hour total), we were off to Wanda’s house in East Hartford. I silently asked that the hawk not die in the car after all we had done to rescue it. It lay quietly after its ordeal.

Wanda determined it was a juvenile red-tailed hawk, probably hit by a car. She then took it to Bolton Veterinary Hospital where they placed a pin in his wing, hoping this would fix the break. There would be several weeks of care and many, many mice to eat before he could be returned to the wild. As of this writing, the hawk is recovering well and, with eating four or five mice a day, is gaining strength and weight. We will take him back to where he was found and release him within the next few weeks. Hopefully, he will remember two important things: stay away from moving cars, and not all people want to harm him. I look forward to seeing him released back into the wild in the early spring. We plan to record his release and post it here.