— Nan Sterman
One early October afternoon I sat at my computer working on a script for an upcoming episode of A Growing Passion. The house was quiet when I heard a “whoosh” overhead. I looked up just in time to catch a glimpse of speckled feathers. I ducked as a small hawk grazed the top of my head – IN MY OFFICE!
I jumped up and ran out, slamming the door behind me so the bird wouldn’t escape into the rest of the house. I also needed some time to think.
Help for a Hawk
I grabbed my cell phone to make calls in search of someone to come get the bird. In the meantime, I could hear “thump, thump” as the hawk flew again and again into the clear glass pane of the bay window in my office. To him, it no doubt looked like sky and freedom
I’ve had small birds fly into my house before. I usually corner them, toss over a towel, then gather up the bird in the towel and carry them outside.
But a hawk? It was a small hawk but it was still much bigger than the other birds. And I was concerned about upsetting him more than he was already upset.
My heart raced as I called the wildlife rescue people who unfortunately didn’t answer the phone. I called my vet who referred me to animal control. A woman at animal control’s emergency number encouraged me to go back into the office and push out a window screen so the could bird escape.
I pushed out the side window screen, but the hawk kept flying into the fixed glass pane instead. I stood at a distance and used the long edge of the window screen to gently guide him towards the open window. If he moved just a few inches to his right, he’d be free, but he couldn’t see beyond the wood frame that separates the window panes – and no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t encourage him to move past it.
Gloves to the Rescue
Clearly, I had to pick up the hawk. I had to release him out the open window, but how? This was an anxious bird with a sharp beak and talons.
Then, I remembered a pair of thick garden gloves in the kitchen. They are long gloves that cover my forearms much like falconer gloves. I use them when I prune and when I weed around cacti and other succulents. My husband had been nagging me to put them outside but I hadn’t gotten around to it. Those gloves would work!
I threw on the gloves.
Back in my office, the bird was wearing out. He was leaning against the window to rest and breathing hard enough to fog up the glass. Gently, I used my gloved hands to wrap his wings snugly around his body. I picked him up, and released him out the window.
The Flight Path
After I calmed down, I thought about the experience from the hawk’s perspective.
He flew through my densely planted garden, under the canopy of a large flowering mulberry tree, beneath the shade cloth atop the patio cover, in through the kitchen door, past the dining room, into the dark entry hall, and turned left into my office. If he’d turned right, he would have ended up in a bedroom, so it’s good he turned left. But still, birds usually fly towards the light. Why did he fly into the dark area of the house?
Later I thought about how that was not the way I expected to use my garden gloves but they worked perfectly. So now, the gloves live permanently in the kitchen and my husband doesn’t object. After all, you never know when another hawk might come to visit!