Yesterday afternoon, Hubs went for one his hard-target walks. He does those alone because he walks farther than I do and faster, and his stride is longer and well, it's his thing. He does about 2.5 miles and it usually takes him about 45 minutes.
So, he was gone about 20 minutes and I was sitting in the living room, reading Agatha Christie and watching Dr. Pol when the phone starts ringing. I glance up at the TV and the caller ID has his cell phone number on it.
Oh, crap, I think, because he never calls here. He only carries the phone for emergencies, so this had to be an emergency. I hop up out of my recliner and scurry to the phone on the other side of the living room. All is well and Hubs is fine, but he needs my help.
As he was walking, he heard a flapping sound along the fence row in one of the old cow pastures. When he investigated, he found a hawk trapped in the barbed wire.
I got dressed in 'outside the house' clothes, then grabbed up a couple of towels and a pair of gardening gloves and a couple sturdy sticks (with which to occupy its talons, if need be). I boogied my buns out to the car and went down to where Hubs had said he was.
And there was the hawk, hanging upside down from the fence where his breast skin had become entangled in the barbed wire. Mouth open in a standard pissed-hawk hiss, wings spread wide, talons out. Right then, I took over. It's what I do. I'm the bird nerd.
I pulled on the gloves and tried to cover the hawk with a towel to calm it down. Nope. He wasn't having any of that and the effort was making him struggle harder. So, I reached in carefully and got his wings tucked against his back with one hand, then I grabbed his two legs above the talons and held them together. (Lucky for me, by that time, he'd grabbed onto the fence wire with both feet.) Then I ran the hand that had been supporting the wings up over the back of his head and eased his beak toward his chest so he wouldn't bite anyone. Once he was secured, Hubs took out his pocket knife and gently cut through the skin where it was attached to the fence.
Yay, the hawk was free, but I wasn't sure he was fine yet. Holding it by his legs and supporting him underneath its wings, I walked out to the little cow driveway right there and looked the bird over. He was an immature red tail. The wings appeared unharmed. The wound on its breast wasn't bleeding anymore. A small wound on one foot was bleeding a little, but not overly bad.
I tilted the hawk upright and let its wings go, while still holding its legs. It started to flap, so I was pretty sure it was time to go. Up he went and down he went to the ground, onto his back. He laid there with his winds spread wide, staring up at me, pretty damned pissed. But I couldn't just leave him there ten feet from the road and unsure whether he could actually fly.
So, I reached down toward him again, attempting to tuck his wings and grasp his legs again. Of course, he did this nifty little ninja move - HI-YA! - and slashed my arm, but I managed to get him secured again. I picked him up, petted him for a couple more minutes, and then tried to put him upright again. This time, he flapped his wings hard. Man, those wings were strong. And he took off into the air. Off he flew toward the nearby woods.
Then I went to the first aid kit in the car while Hubs picked everything up. I managed to get two shallow talon slashes, one little dig, and a puncture on my right arm. Lucky for me, Junior Hawk didn't actually latch on, Band-aids in the field, a really good washing with antibacterial soap and hot hot water, then Neosporin when we got home. They're uglier than they are hurty.
They don't matter, though. We saved a hawk.
Thankfully, he wasn't hurt worse. The last time I tried to find help for an injured bird, I learned no one would come out here and the closest bird rescue is a couple hours away. We couldn't help that heron, but we helped this hawk. Yay.
You know, we're probably been watching his parents for years now. It was a good thing to help their offspring have a chance. If Hubs had decided he didn't want to walk today, that guy would probably have died hanging from that fence.
Fly and be free, bud.