The picture quality from my phone is only so-so, but you can see on the left that its wing is at a weird angle. At first we thought it was a baby hawk. We tried calling 311 with mixed results, and the ASPCA apparently doesn't answer its phone on the weekend. Then I started calling all the animal-lovers, dog rescuers and vegans I know in the hopes that someone would know what to do with an injured bird.
My sister called and told me that there was actually some big Mama Hawk that lived in the park nearby that kept the local pigeon population under control, so it was probably her baby. Who knew a hawk-clutch grows in Brooklyn?
Then my friend Lil' D tracked down the number of a Bird Rescuer (yes, there is such a thing) through the Audubon Society but she couldn't really help me other than to suggest I leave food for it (FACT: birds of prey like dry dog food soaked in a little water, FYI) and track down the number of an organization called Volunteers for Wildlife to find out what to do for the little guy.
But then NYC Animal Control actually called me back -- I was convinced they wouldn't even bother to show, much less call -- and said they would be there in 20 minutes. After talking with the guy for about 5 minutes, he figures out from my description that Mr. Birdie was actually a kestrel, not a baby hawk. Apparently a lot of them have been turning up injured in the city lately because its their annual mating season and their hormone-addled birdbrains get a little confused. Or exhausted. Go figure.
SIDEBAR: Kestrels are AWESOME. The little one hanging out with us all day was an American Kestrel. They require a slight headwind in order to hover, hence a local name of Windhover. And they believe in green nesting -- they recycle other birds nests as their own.
Okay, now here's where it gets a little weird. I was so relieved that Animal Control was coming and I wouldn't have to figure out a way to bundle up the little-taloned-sharp-beaked-freaked-out-bird-of-prey and take him to the vet myself, I went inside the shop to actually sell something. I came back about 20 minutes later and the bird was gone.
I ask, has anybody seen the bird? Everyone's like, he was just there. Customers are going up the block, looking under cars. People are looking up in the trees, under the eaves of the building. No kestrel.
So now I'm thinking, maybe the Animal Control guy came and got him real fast. We lock up, everyone goes their separate ways....and 10 minutes later I get a call from the Animal Control officer. He's at the spot and wants to know where the bird is.
Uh-oh. I explain the whole story about the bird vanishing and everyone thinking he had already come. He was cool about it, though seemingly irritated that I didn't call. But then he said usually the calls he gets are about pigeons, so maybe he was disappointed not to get to pick up a "real bird" for once.
All of which is to say...Little Kestrel, wherever you are, I hope you're safe and warm and happy.
I wish you good flying.