Wildlife Warriors


I took a short stroll one recent morning to check the early-morning mail. Near the mailbox, I saw what I thought was an owl on the ground near the lane. It was not an owl. It was a hawk, and it appeared to be in some discomfort. My steel-trap mind seized on that assumption because the bird not only allowed me to approach closely, but it also showed no indication of flight.

What to do, what to do? First, let me say it was a beautiful bird with piercing talons, piercing beak, and piercing eyes that helped me realize it was a hawk, not an owl. Also, it was of good size and presented a somewhat intimidating appearance. Finally, I was at a loss as to how I should proceed. I couldn't leave it damaged and defenseless on the ground for some four-legged predator to take.

After some thought, which I try to avoid on a daily basis, it occurred to me that there might be a local wildlife organization that could intervene, so I went to Google and found "Wildlife Rehab" and gave them a call. I was put in touch with a nice lady who said she and her husband would come and get the bird if we could capture it, suggesting we throw a sheet or towel over it because that calms them down. Those approaches seldom calm me down, but when my LSW expertly tossed a white sheet, the bird stayed put. After that, an upside down laundry basket and a chunk of concrete secured the capture.

An hour later the couple from Wildlife Rehab showed up. The man simply picked up the bird by the talons and examined it without any concern for damage the raptor might inflict with that beak or claws. A close examination revealed a wound, maybe a gunshot or damage from being hit by a car, in the bird's underside that had become infected.There were flies and necrotized tissue. The woman identified the bird as a juvenile red-tailed hawk. When they left, there was optimism that the bird could be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

Lisa and I named him, guessing on gender, "Raymond the Red-Tailed Raptor." Seemed dignified, somehow, for a predator of his lofty demeanor and appearance.

Yesterday morning, as we were enjoying our cappuccino/coffee morning beverage, I saw from my sitting position in the living room, a turtle making its way across our driveway that leads up an incline to the mailbox. Springing to my feet lest the beast sprint away, I capture a young box turtle, took him in for Lisa to admire, then released him into the wild near our woodpile, the direction he was heading. A male, we have named him "Bernard the Box Turtle."

And that's my report from Lisa and me, conservatores of the natural environment.

Wait! Is that crying sound from deep in the woods behind the Carenen Cottage a rattlesnake needing rescue? I don't think so. Maybe something soft and fuzzy; a bear cub that needs cuddling. Maybe I could pick it up and bring it back to the cottage and nurse it back to health. Stay tuned. I'm going to jog out and take a look. Be right back.