flappy the cooper’s hawk, 2011-2011

major sad face, you guys. our hawk didn’t make it. i’m pretty bummed, because this is the third bird i’ve taken in with a broken wing, and the third bird who has had to be euthanized. all three (the other two were a pigeon and a seagull) were difficult to catch, but settled okay once in the box, and all three had their wings broken “in the wrong place” so there was “nothing [they] can do.” aaargh.

but here is the story of flappy the cooper’s hawk, because you’re vegans and you probably want to hear it anyway, right?

on saturday, we went to my dad & stepmom’s house for some socializing and some chili, and early on my dad left to pick up several family members to bring them over to the house. he was gone maybe 5-10 minutes when he called my cell, asking if i knew whether there was a raptor rescue in the area. awwww. he had seen this small/young hawk in a driveway on the way, and assumed he had just caught his dinner, but then he saw him still there on the way back, and he was very obviously injured. he was hopping around, trying to fly, and it just wasn’t working. poor sweetie.

i got off the phone with my dad and started doing some research; of course this was saturday at 5.30pm and every viable option is either already closed or will be extremely soon. i feel like that’s always the way (kind of like how our own animals only get sick after the vet has closed)… but i talked to the humane society where i volunteer, and they gave me some good advice and also a rehab to aim for (already closed, but would be open in the morning). i also called a random woman whose name and phone number were listed on the web as a bird rehabber in the area. she was also very helpful; recommended the same rehab place and gave me some tips on how to catch the hawk and what to do (and not do) once we had him.

by this time, my dad was back, and my sister was excitedly planning our trip for the Great Hawk Rescue. we gathered our supplies: a smallish box lined with paper towel, a large beach towel (didn’t use), a full-sized sheet, some heavy gloves, a jacket (for arm coverage), and five people. heh. my dad, sister, brother-in-law, husband, and i piled into the truck and headed back to where my dad had seen the hawk, but he was missing when we got there. my dad rang the doorbell at the house of the original driveway sighting, but they hadn’t seen him. they were super nice, though, and offered to let us comb the property (and one even helped himself).

having five people was a good move here, because we could split up and cover a lot of ground. we talked to a couple of additional neighbors (yet another who joined in looking for awhile, and then another who, very frustratingly, said, ‘oh yeah, i saw that he couldn’t fly, and then i went back inside’) and canvassed the area. eventually i saw my dad running back toward the truck, so i hurried over to meet him, and he said my brother-in-law had found the hawk quite a ways up the street. we got in the truck to drive the Great Hawk Rescue Supplies closer to the action, and when we got there my sister and brother-in-law were standing in someone’s side yard, some distance from the hawk. he was trying to get away, hopping and flapping and trying to fly, and it was really sad. he could flap enough to get some lift (and get away from us), but not enough to actually do anything like get up into a tree. i felt terrible for him.

my dad, as the pre-determined wrangler, put on the jacket and the gloves, and the rest of us started to walk toward the hawk in an effort to surround him. it didn’t work. he kept flapping enough to get away, and we had to go through some crazy backyard shenanigans to keep up with him, including going down a relatively steep hill. by this time, my dad and i had opened up the sheet all the way, so now we were a random band of five people, stalking through people’s backyards, two of us carrying a giant sheet in a slightly menacing fashion, one of us wearing big gloves. i’m sure we were a sight.

eventually, and sadly, the hawk flapped up a hill and landed at a funny angle, which meant that he tumbled over and landed on his back, and because of the bum wing, he couldn’t right himself very quickly, so we were able to get the sheet over him. i felt awful, and i was worried that he would injure himself even worse, but we were able to get him back upright pretty quickly, and my sister gently put him into the box. he flapped around in there a little, but then quieted down.

we drove back to the house keeping as quiet as we could, and then got him settled in the garage for the night. you’re not supposed to give them any food or water in a situation like this (they can aspirate), so we just poked a bunch of holes in the box, took his picture, named him flappy, took a tiny bit of video before closing up the box, and then secured it with tape. he stayed calm and quiet through the whole ordeal (he was in shock), and in the morning my dad & stepmom drove him to the rehab.

they were extremely nice, very grateful for what we had done, and they told my parents they could call the next day for an update. well, yesterday was the next day, and unfortunately the update wasn’t good, as you already know. they said his wing was broken at the shoulder, and that in situations like that there’s really nothing they can do. they also said he was a baby from this year, which makes me even sadder. poor little thing. i’m obviously still glad that we caught him, because being euthanized in a wildlife rehab is a better end than starving to death or being hit by a car or eaten by a cat or something… but man, i hope this streak of bad luck is over. i want a happy rescue story next time! i’m very sorry, flappy.



  1. Aw, I am so sorry Flappy didn’t make it and it’s a shame there was nothing they could do. Sometimes we would still set the wing anyway and a wildlife carer would take them in.

    You and your family did a great thing by taking him in and caring for him 🙂

  2. Sadly, many birds don’t recover in rehab, but at least they have a chance. Where a wing is broken and how badly broken really does make a difference in recovery. I am sure if there was a chance of recovery, they would have set the wing. Hard decisions! Glad the hawk had you to help though!

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