Defenders of Wildlife

Ode to a Hawk

Ode to a Hawk
Ode to a Hawk

I am a Wildlife Biologist with a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation group in northern California. Our most pressing problem here is loss of habitat due to rapid urban growth. This is a story about one of my encounters.

I first saw her in a yard on the ground. An Animal Control Officer and I had been looking for her for almost an hour. She was in the corner formed by two wooden fences where she had pulled herself, foot by painful foot using only her wings. As I looked around, I saw the power lines she had hit, injuring her back so badly she fell to the ground.
I bent over her and she looked up at me, her eyes filled mostly with fear, but also saying, please help me, please don't hurt me anymore.
Gently picking her up and placing her in a carrier, I knew I would do my best to help her, but feeling deep down as I have far too often in the past; this bird is hurt too badly. Damn those power lines. This bird is going to die.
There was a fire in her eyes that night, the will to live was strong. Her legs were motionless, warm but without feeling. I held her, gave her fluids, protected her and prayed for a miracle.
The next morning, she was still with me. Giving her more fluids, I changed her position regularly to keep the circulation going in her useless limbs. The hours wore on. I hated seeing this majestic creature lying on her stomach, hurt and helpless.
That night, as I held her and gave her more liquid, I could see the fire in her eyes start to dim. It was as if to say, "Please let me go, please don't let me be like this. I need to fly, to play with the air currants, to feel the wind on my face. One way or another please let me be free."
The next morning the x-rays told the story. Her back was broken. The veterinarian and I gave her her wish. It was a peaceful end. She was free now, without pain.
And I thought to myself as I drove home without her, I did my best. I had known her only two days. But her soul, her spirit, her being touched me.
I will keep trying. Maybe failing. Maybe not. Maybe, just maybe, she'll be back.

Aaron Bendavid


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