The Wounded Hawk

The majestic Red-Tailed Hawk

The Majestic Red-Tailed Hawk

I was walking down Kearny St. in downtown SF yesterday running an errand, when all of a sudden I looked up to see a wounded red-tailed hawk falling from the sky, into the middle of traffic on Pine St. between Kearny and Montgomery. Needless to say this is not your everyday occurrence, so I stuck around to make sure the bird was alright. Below is a retelling of the story to a friend which pretty much explains it all:

Me: You’re not going to believe what just happened
You: Ha, this sounds good
Did you meet an alien?
Me: No, I was walking down and the street and huge hawk fell from the sky
it landed in the middle of the street, and I went to move it, but it had huge talons and a sharp beak!
It’s wings were sprawled out and they were about the same span as my arms
You: wow
Wait, when you say it fell…did it like fall down dead, or did it land?
Me: It was badly injured. It’s eyes were cloudy and it was twitching and writhing a little bit. It kept sticking it’s head straight up in the sky and opening it’s mouth.
At first it was pretty still, so we blocked traffic and I called animal control
You: awww, poor thing
Me: It finally got up and flew into the front window of a McDonald’s and laid there for a while. A couple of homeless guys were staring at it when I walked up.
Some idiot was walking down the street and didn’t even notice it, and almost stepped on it!
You: That’s awful
Are they going to be able to help it?
Me: Well, after the guy almost stepped on it, the hawk got up and ran a little bit, screamed, and went blindly flying into the busiest street in downtown (Montgomery)
It finally ran straight into a building and fell about four stories into an alcove
A cop finally showed up, and she took one look at it and decided she wasn’t gong to touch it. There was a coffee shop next door and I warned all the customers/employees not to go outside and disturb the bird. I had to leave as soon as Animal Control pulled up to get back to work.
You: Cool,  I’m glad animal control got there before it like got hit by a bus or something
You: Hopefully they can help it
Me: Well, I think a bullet to the head would be the best thing – but who knows, maybe a blind bird can live a healthy, productive life
You: Oh, so he’s blind…i missed that part
Me: Well, I’m not sure, but the whole cloudy eyes and flying into walls kind of made me think he was.

The after-effects of seeing such a beautiful and majestic animal in the middle of downtown (of all places) was quite profound, as you can imagine. I’m taking this as a sign to pursue the spirit of the hawk because it is wounded and blind within me. Even if that’s not what I’m supposed to get from all of this, I think the hawk’s intervention into my life at least warrants some sort of deeper questioning of myself. I feel a connection with this creature, and I wanted to stay longer and make sure it was ok. From what I could gather things were not going to be ok for this hawk and it would have simply been for my own amusement and curiosity that I stayed and watched. By calling animal control and following the bird until they showed up I felt my usefullness had reached it’s end. Plus, I just think it wanted to be left alone to die in peace, I hope the hawk found that or is at least recovering.

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4 Responses to “The Wounded Hawk”

  1. pnk Says:

    Dude, that is a heavy story.

    Hawks are amazing creatures, and it’s pretty hard not to be moved in some way when their lives and ours intersect. It sounds like you did the right things, if that’s any comfort.

    A hawk can teach us a lot even in death, especially around here. The Golden Gate Raptor Observatory operates right over the Bridge, in the Marin Headlands. They band and release hundreds of hawks every year, most of which are only recovered when the hawks die. The data collected at the time of mortality can tell us a lot about the health of the species, and of the broader environment as well. Hawks are at the top of a food chain, after all, and can be very trenchant icons for the health of the whole chain.

    Maybe you should go volunteer over there, experience that first-hand! I did it back in the early nineties, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.

  2. cjonesplay Says:

    Thanks for the information, Paul. Just curious, what did you do as a volunteer? I think my feeling towards the hawk was part reverence and awe, but the other part was fear. Perhaps better understanding these creatures could influence a new perspective of respect for myself.

  3. 2010 in review « cjonesplay's blog Says:

    […] The Wounded Hawk July 2009 2 comments […]

  4. get more Says:


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