May 22, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 23 February 2012 14:02
Garages usually hold cars and assorted gear. They can also hold surprises, as Michael Drobney of Ridgefield discovered recently.
Michael caught a Sharp-shinned Hawk in his garage, as the amazing photograph accompanying this column demonstrates.
“I was working on my garage door openers — had one door open and the other closed,” Michael said. “He flew in from behind me, probably thinking he could fly straight through, but noticed the closed side window just in time to land on it.”
“Since I was between him and daylight, he flapped at the window for a few seconds then settled down.
“I just walked slowly, so he wouldn’t get any more agitated, and he let me just put one hand on his shoulders and another behind his legs. I wasn’t sure it was a smart thing to do, with no gloves or anything, but really wanted to show my kids.
“As it turned out, he was really very calm in my hands. What a thrill to have the chance to hold and observe up close such beautiful little creature.
“He also appeared to be appreciative after I let him go. He flew just to the first tree, sat down in it, turned around, and just looked back at us.
“Of course, the little birds in the surrounding trees weren’t so thrilled to see him on the loose again and set about making their collective displeasure known.”
Michael’s adventure reminded me of the story my son Ben sent me last winter when a somewhat larger Cooper’s Hawk became trapped in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building. That bird eluded captors for a week.
Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library’s weekly staff newsletter, The Gazette, said the library finally summoned help from a three-person team from the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia.
“The team put a pair of starlings — Frick and Frack, according to their owner — in a trap on a ledge inside the dome and waited, hidden beneath a tarp,” Mr. Hartsell said.
“The starlings saw the hawk poised nearby and froze. But the noise of a truck passing by the Jefferson Building startled the pair and caused them to move.
“The motion drew the attention of the hawk: She immediately flew onto the trap, where its talons entangled in the nylon nooses attached to the top of the wire cage.”
The raptor team grabbed the hawk, weighed and banded the bird, and put it in a covered box. The bird was in good health, but was dehydrated and had lost weight. It was released nearby.
How did the hawk get into the huge library reading room? Matt Raymond of the Library of Congress said officials there were uncertain. “The working theory is that there was an open or possibly a broken window high in the building,” he said. “We monitor those kinds of things closely, but storm breakage can sometimes occur. That might have allowed the hawk in. Pigeons sometimes congregate on our roof areas, and hawks often find them irresistible hors d’oeuvre.”
While Michael may not have had a building the size of the Library of Congress to deal with, he did manage of capture his hawk “single-handedly.”
Birding at Tarrytown Lakes, wintering ducks and more, Saturday, Feb. 25, 9 a.m., Saw Mill River Audubon, 914-666-6503, office@sawmillriveraudubon.
First Sunday Bird Walks at Greenwich Point (Tod’s Point), March 4, 9 to 11 a.m., spotting scopes available, free, sponsored by Wild Wings, Bruce Museum and Audubon Greenwich, for info, Meredith Sampson, 203-637-9822.
Cuba bird study, trip with Connecticut Audubon, survey work involved, March 3-15, 860-767-0660
Family Bird Watch, review winter birds, bird feeding and first returning migrants Saturday, March 10, 1 to 2 p.m., Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, RSVP to Ted at 203-869-5272 x230.
Family Nestbox Workshop, hosting bird families in your yard, kits can be ordered, Saturday, March 17, 2 to 3:30 p.m., Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Ted at 203-869-5272 x230.
Woodcock Watch, one of the rites of spring, Saturday, March 17, 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. $5, RSVP to Jeff at 203-869-5272 x239.
Seals and Seabirds cruises, two and a half hours around Norwalk Islands, Saturdays, March 17 at 1:30 pm, March 31 at noon and Sunday, April 1, at 1 p.m., $20.50, Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk, 203-852-0700, ext. 2206, maritimeaquarium.org
Eagle Viewing Trips, on Connecticut River, through March 18, 9, 11:30 and 2 on weekends, and 10 and 1 on Thursdays, $40, Connecticut Audubon, 1-800-996-8747
Copyright 2012 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] gmail.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
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