The Wilds of Manhattan

Life can be strange in the wilds of Manhattan.

More specifically, on the sidewalk of 87th Street off Broadway.

I found a wounded Cooper’s hawk on the curb this morning, breathing but motionless with right wing splayed and tail half spread.

Two men were already there, holding phones out and trying to figure out who to call. We tried to think which veterinary practice was the closest or whether to call the city hotline at 311.

Luck (or serendipity) has it that there is actually a Wild Bird Fund clinic just a few blocks away. One man tried calling them and got the voicemail, so I said I’d take the bird there myself immediately.

A passerby stripped his coat off to donate his sweater to cover the bird. Not only talons and beak to worry about, but birds of prey can die from stress–it can help keep them calm to have them covered. The good man then ran to the closest store to bring a box to put the bird in. The hawk rose in alarm when one of the other men leaned close to take a photo of it, but it was too wounded or too in shock to move away.

We shushed and covered the bird, then placed it in the box, and I left with it for the clinic. The hawk lay quietly in the empty Avocado carton, resigned or hopefully knowing someplace that I was doing for it. I sent calm thoughts of healing its way, just in case. Intention matters.

As soon as I walked into the Wild Bird Fund, I was greeted by clucky hens of various colors, outfits, and dispositions (one white hen donned blue Band-Aid socks), a couple of ducks, and a curious seagull, all promenading on the clinic’s floor, pecking happily from a shared bowl. I felt transported and a little giddy. I had hens and ducks growing up, and I have a special connection to seagulls, especially curious ones …

The amazing staff attended to the poor hawk immediately. The bird was conscious but not very responsive and too timid. They checked for bleeding, administered IV ‘bird-Gatorade,’ and put it in a quiet cage on a heating pad (“Where is a warming blanket?”, “They’re all over the place. I think the Kestrel had it…”, “Yep, just took it from the Kestrel … he doesn’t needs it anymore.”).

First order of the day is to let it regroup. De-stress. Hopefully it will recover some before the bird rehabilitator comes in the afternoon and can take a more thorough look at it.

I said goodbye to a little red hen (sans apron but just as officious) who wove between everyone’s legs the whole time, to the seagull and the ducks, to the robin Annie, who seemed mighty glad to be behind the bars of a cage with a hawk one foot away, took the sweater to return to the good Samaritan, and left an island of wilderness and barnyard, feeling a bit surreal.

This is New York.

You really do not ever know what you’ll run into, or see.

Get well fast, little Cooper’s hawk!



Wounded Coopers’ Hawk, NYC Jan 16, 2017