A few weeks back I got a call out via email from Toronto Wildlife Centre that a small Hawk in the Richmond Hill area was in need of a ride to TWC. The species was unknown as were his injuries.
With Angie in Florida, it was Saturday morning and I had nothing going on... I phoned in offering my time and truck to pick him up.
The funny thing with this is the Hawk was actually picked up in the Keele and Langstaff (Concord) area by some contractors who were on their way to a job site in Richmond Hill. The bird was just sitting out in the middle of the street. They put him in a plastic garbage can, covered him with a moving blanket and away they went to the site, where one of them made the call in to Toronto Wildlife. Even though they went in the opposite direction of TWC, gotta commend them for stopping and helping out.
There was no other details for me as mentioned, so I got the address and away I went. Small hawk? Hmmmmmm... Sharp-shin? Maybe a Kestrel or a Merlin as some mistake Falcons for Hawks?
I arrive on scene and there was some confusion at first. I asked to see the owner of the house, not knowing the guys (contractors) were actually the ones I needed to see. I waited 10 minutes or so before the man of the house came down to meet me, looking awfully puzzled at who this soaking wet mess of a long haired guy was standing at his door wanting to speak with him. It was a wet snow/rain mix coming down as I waited out front. From there, it all came together, and I was led into the back of an old cube van and shown a mid-sized garbage can with a blanket over it.
I was under the impression the bird was contained and ready for immediate transport, hence me not really dressed for standing outdoors for very long in the precipitation. I've only done a few pick-ups since signing on as a volunteer driver, and only once did I have to do something more than take the animal already in a box and go.
At this point, seeing the garbage can, I'm still under the impression it is a small hawk. Buddy removes the blanket slowly and reveals something not small at all. It was an adult Red-tailed Hawk! He was freakin' huge! I had my carrier with me and we feared it wasn't going to be suitable for the bird. My concern was more about getting him in it as the door is small, or so I think, for such a bird. The man was concerned that the bird was going to shred us. I asked how it was when he grabbed it, and he said it gave no fight. Would it tear us apart if we tried to move him again? Perhaps, perhaps not. But nobody wanted to chance it.
My heart sunk looking down at this bird. He did not look well at all. My heart still sinks looking at this photo one of the guys sent me.
This was all new to me on how to deal with this, as it was for the guys who picked him up. After some humming and hawing and pondering, the head contractor told me to take the can and blanket, and not worry about returning it. I asked if he was sure despite how old and used the items appeared; and he assured me it was all good. So off I went with this Hawk in a trash can. Thank goodness for having the GMC as this would not have sat well and upright in most cars!
I made a quick post on social media about having a Hawk in a trash can on route to TWC and of course it got people wondering. I should have added to that as many thought someone shoved him in a garbage can for some cruel reason. Nope, this wasn't cruel at all. But today, I learned something cruel with the story... why the Hawk was down on the street and unable to fly. Someone had shot him through a wing with a pellet gun! What the hell is wrong with some people?!?!?!
It's sad to know that there are many cruel acts committed to animals almost daily in our city. It's best not to relate the many I already know, for your sake to read them, and for mine to type them out.
So, anyone reading this, please send him some love and well wishes, hoping he may return to the wild once again. I feel bad being the one who brought him in as my "return to the wild" ratio is not good at all. It's a sad reality that many animals brought in are at the point of near death, most try to conceal their sickness as a defense, and only when they get too sick or weak, do we find them or are able to catch them. But euthanizing to end their suffering is better than what they will face in their finals days in the wild.
I should add that TWC relies a lot on public support, through volunteers and donations. Angie and I are monthly donors plus I've signed on to help with emergency drives when needed. Maybe some of you reading this would consider helping out some how? They also have a wish list on their website.
Here's a happy healthy Red-tailed Hawk I am often seeing with my drives to and from Toronto Wildlife...