An Unintended Visitor


Last Tuesday, a hawk showed up on my patio. It was directly below a hanging plant, a long drapey succulent. Hidden underneath the thick spongy leaves was a dove nest with two babies. The gardener and I assumed the worst, and when we saw one little head moving up there, thought the hawk had killed the sibling and was hanging around to get the other.

I went inside and took this closeup through the window. I banged on the window to get the hawk to leave, but it just sat there.

Before too long I began to worry that it was abnormal for a hawk to just sit there on the ground without leaving.

I put in a call to the local wildlife rescue that specializes in birds. I have brought them quail chicks, doves, and pigeons in the past. But nobody called me back. I made some other calls and posted on next-door app. I was finally able to talk to a second wildlife rescue. They said to let the bird sit there overnight because it might have a concussion. If the bird was still there in the morning I was supposed to call them back. A concussion made sense because there was a window right by the plant with the dove nest.

While they first assumed it was a juvenile bird that was afraid to fly, one of my daughter’s best friends volunteers with raptors in Tucson. I showed her photos and she said it was an adult red-tailed hawk. That was helpful information because the rescue paid attention when I told them that it was an adult bird, so that the lack of flying was abnormal.

Next morning the bird was still on the patio, but in a different spot, and looking more bedraggled. About a half an hour after I got up, the bird stepped into the pan of water I had put out for it the night before and just stood there cooling its feet.


Through a series of events it ended up that the first rescue group that I called sent a volunteer to capture the hawk.

The hawk actually escaped twice after the events of the video, but was quickly recaptured each time. That afternoon, I wrote a poem about the hawk, making it a female.

The next day, the volunteer texted me and said that the hawk turned out to be a female (but I already knew that!). She wanted us to look for a nest. The thought of starving baby hawks motivated the gardener to search our neighborhood and me to post on next-door app asking people to look for hawk nests. We found two, but not hers so perhaps she didn’t have a nest after all. The volunteer said that if there wasn’t a nest close by it’s doubtful that she had one because she would have done anything to get to the nest, even if she couldn’t fly. She would have walked!

You might wonder how she’s doing. I sure do, but they don’t let people know. That is frustrating, but I’m satisfied I did what I could for her. What a magnificent bird. An interesting note: I read up on red-tailed hawks, of course, and discovered that they generally don’t go after cats and dogs, although they are huge and their wing spans can be six feet.

By the way, both dove babies are still alive!

57 Comments

Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Writing

57 responses to “An Unintended Visitor

  1. We get them occasionally here. They are very majestic but as soon as they come all the birds disappear. They will hang around watching for a long time before they move on. I think they are great mouse catchers too.

  2. Fascinating – with a reassuring last sentence

  3. A happy ending! Just what I needed today.

  4. We have a lot of red-tailed hawks in our back yard. They like to hunt to birds that frequent our feeder. I think your visitor came to the right house!

    • I wonder if you have hawk nests near you! Funny you should mention coming to the right house. I have to say that I can’t imagine not helping the hawk, but judging by the number of people on next-door app that thanked me I have to believe there are a lot of people who wouldn’t do so. Or at least people assume others wouldn’t. That saddens me.

  5. Luanne, this is such a wonderful example of your never failing rescue instincts for all creatures. I am deeply moved by your efforts for this visitor who couldn’t have landed on a better patio. Bless your hearts.

    • Aw, thanks, Sheila. I think anybody who cares about others and the world around them would do the same although I admit it’s come to my attention since then that there are those who would not. I can’t understand that. Hope your week is particularly good!

    • My sentiments exactly, Sheila! I was also moved by Luanne’s care for the hawk’s well-being.

  6. What an adventure, and such an auspicious visitor!

  7. I hope she recovers. She seems quite listless. You’d expect her to struggle a lot more to avoid being netted. I wonder if she flew into your window and stunned herself. Poor thing. Anyway, it’s good that you got some help for her.

    • That is what they were thinking. Apparently if they get a concussion they can’t fly. The other worry would be rat poison, but it seems odd she would camp out by us to die.

  8. I just love birds of prey. We see a lot where I live in rural France. We have two buzzards who regularly circle our property. I loved your tale and glad that the hawk was OK.

  9. The rescue was impressive, and your actions equally impressive. Tri-Bird Rescue is near me, and it has national status. Regardless, these bird lovers are doing great work. Congratulations on your efforts to save one of nature’s majestic creatures.

    • Oh, wonderful to have a big bird rescue near you! Yes, the one here is good. They used to be very close to my house, but then were able to build a facility past the airport that is more state of the art and has an ICU unit! Thank you, Sally!

  10. Well, clearly there was something wrong with that bird. Such a shame the rescue doesnt send a message to the people who initiated the rescue. She knew where to go for help though and thank goodness you were paying attention – and glad the doves got to grow up unmolested as well 🙂

    • Although I hate the expression, it is definitely a win-win situation haha. The hawk got help, but the dove babies grew up and flew off into their lives! Makes me happy!

  11. Yes, you did the right thing. The fact that the hawk couldn’t fly to get away from being captured showed something was wrong. Hopefully, something can be done. Looking at the photos and video the hawk looked to be an older bird. This may be the reason.

  12. I’m so glad you shared your adventure and your lovely photos of the hawk! You did your best to help her; as others have noted, she came to the right patio. 🙂

    • Yes, she did come to the right patio also because ours has a fence around it so it kind of protected her for the night. I couldn’t help but wonder if that went into her decision to stay there! Thanks, Jennifer!

  13. Thanks for doing what you could for the hawk. Hopefully it will be okay.

  14. Loved the video as I have never seen a hawk close up except in photos. Animals usually know who has a good heart and will help. They are passing around your address. So glad it tuned out well.

    • Lol! We used to have a joke that a dog had put a mark on our fence like the homeless used to do during the Great Depression when they found a lady who would feed them. Then when we found more cats than dogs we said it was cats that were doing it. Maybe it’s birds now.

  15. You are amazing. All creatures deserve love otherwise God wouldn’t have created them. Thanks for helping them.

    • I agree! At first I was so worried about the dove checks and then I started worrying so much about the hawk while still worrying about the dove babies.

  16. Amy

    Wow. Thank you for doing your best to ensure her safety and good health.

  17. What an event! Glad it worked out well. Nice photos.

  18. I’m so glad you were able to help the hawk and that the baby doves are fine. I hope you do find out how the hawk got on, eventually.

  19. I feel like she chose the right yard, you know? She sensed it was a safe place, poor thing. I do wish they’d let you know how she is. These encounters are so meaningful to humans, hm?

  20. That is just fascinating. We have so many hawks here, but I’ve never seen one land on the ground, much less just sit there. So glad you realized something was wrong and got help, and that they responded. And how frustrating that you don’t know how she is doing….

    • I guess I have to learn to help when I can and then let things go. Every time I walk past the place she was hanging out I expect to see her.

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