On my last load yesterday, I had just turned north onto Highway #99, one of the local freeways in western half of the Fraser Valley. Going only a short distance I noticed what at first appeared to be some sort of stuffed animal left alongside the freeway. As I passed I realized it was not stuffed, but real! I braked as much as I could without upsetting the horse I had on board, and ran back to find a full grown red-tailed hawk sitting thoroughly dazed on the shoulder of the road. He made no effort to avoid me whatsoever, but looked to be otherwise in good condition. After a brief inspection for broken wings, etc I picked him up carefully & carried him back to the truck. A light sweep mark along the shoulder indicated his path as he skidded to the side of the road; obviously a result of an impact with a vehicle. A client who was behind me had stopped as well, & offered a large Rubbermaid container for the bird. We placed him in the container, then made a secure spot for it in the tack room of the trailer before continuing on.
I made several calls while en route, only to find that placing an injured raptor in need of care is no small feat! At length I determined the best option was to try the local owl rescue; although I was unable to contact anyone there I struck out for their place after delivering the horse. I was concerned about the bird coming to in the confines of the tack room alone, so elected to move him up to the cab with me, where I could keep an eye on him. Maybe it was just time, perhaps it may have been the warmth in the cab, or just the fact that he wasn't alone any more ... for whatever impetus, things began to get real interesting, real fast ... as I drove along, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye & turned to see the hawk now perched on the top of his rubber condominium, facing me. His visage was understandably difficult to read, but were I a bird man I might have guessed that look to mean one of the following:
"Dude! Like, what was in that mouse I ate?"
"Hey! You bear a striking resemblance to the dirtbag that HIT me!"
"Are you ... dinner?"
The prospect of having a wild raptor loose in the cab of my truck was becoming a very real possibility, and one that had my nearly undivided attention (after all, I WAS still driving!). As I mulled over how this little scene might play out, the bird settled for hunching down on the dash & pondering the world as it whizzed past the windows. I can only hint at what must have been going through his head ...
On arriving at the owl rescue, I was met by a gentleman who became quite curious as to why a large horse trailer had just backed into their driveway. The ensuing conversation went something like this:
Owl Guy: "Kin I help ya, Mister?"
Me: "Hope so, I got a hawk here"
Owl Guy, looking at the trailer: "I see that; heard they're pretty nice trailers. How long ya had yours?"
Me, confused: "No, I mean I have a real hawk, like the bird ... he's in my truck"
Owl Guy looks in through the windshield to see the bird glaring back at him from his perch on the dash. Then he turns to me & asks: "Did he come with the trailer?"
Me: "Forget the trailer; can you help the bird?"
Owl Guy: "Maybe, what seems to be the trouble?"
Me: "I think he's been hit by a car or something. Pretty dazed when I found him, but he's come around some on the way out here."
To accentuate this statement, the bird opened his beak & ruffed up his wing feathers.
Owl Guy & I decide haste being the better virtue get big bird back into his rubber condo & hustle his birdie butt into the house.
OGW (Owl Guy's Wife) checked the bird over very carefully & announced that he didn't appear too much the worse for wear & tear, but did caution that internal or head injuries were exceedingly difficult to diagnose in birds, so they would keep him there for a few days to assess the nature of his injuries, and what could be done to help him recuperate. Once they determine if he is well enough to be let out into one of the large "bird runs", he will stay there until he is either well enough to be released, or may join a regular population of other birds of prey in permanent residency. If he becomes fit enough for release, I will be invited back to be the one to release him back into the wild!
We've decided to call him Freeway, obviously as that's where I found him. Freeway is doing OK today; not moving around much, but definitely more active today than last night.
Here’s Freeway & I at the side of the road last night ...