Sunday, February 21, 2010


Today I’m led to relate a tale of something that happened to me years ago. It involves a hawk, disability, community, and fear.

One day I was out walking the canyon in back of my home. It’s a long shallow canyon that follows a creek path. People have lived along this creek for hundreds of years; there are always artifacts to find from native populations of centuries past. Indeed, I have the occasional citizen from those days pass through my house. I’m now used to the sight of an older Native American man who stops by from time to time. “Hi!” I wave. He has taken to waving back before dissolving into mist. He used to startle me. Now I just wave. “Hi!”

Anyway, back to the canyon. I was walking along the top rim and approaching the gate at which one enters to descend to the creek level and a path that proceeds along the creek bank. People were flowing up and out and admonished me not to go down – there was danger! One was holding a small dog and couldn’t move quickly enough. “What is going on?” I asked. “There’s a hawk down there!” someone answered. Well, I thought that unless it was some were-hawk from a fantasy movie I was hardly in any real danger so of course I went against the flow of people and hurried down the canyon slope to the grassy stretch that preceded the creek. My friends will hardly be surprised at this.

And sure enough there he was. A magnificent young hawk, just sitting in the path. His feathers gleamed in the sun, and his gaze was steady and sharp. He was incredible! And about ten feet away from him stood two people as rapt in admiration as was I. They related that the hawk had been sitting there for over an hour. Well something was clearly wrong. I went over to him and crouched down, respectfully. He glared at me with his sharp eyes. I reached over ever so slowly and he allowed me to touch his head feathers. His eyes never left me, and I lowered my gaze to reduce the threat he may have felt. I took off my sunglasses to reduce the Big Eye appearance. I narrowed my own eyes, well aware that this young hawk could have blinded me in a second. But he didn’t. I will never forget his energy and his soul. It was indescribable and magnificent.

The three of us humans started phoning every agency we could think of. Finally the Harbor Police referred us to a raptor rescue organization and one more phone call led to the assurance that a hawk whisperer was being dispatched. By now it was getting dark. As twilight descended the hawk loped off, trotting with his wings outstretched. We attempted to follow him, but lost him in the tall grasses. So we climbed up to the road and shortly the Hawk Whisperer arrived.

“We lost him!” we mourned.

“Where did you last see him?” the Hawk Whisperer asked.

“There” we pointed in the darkness. The Hawk Whisperer donned a pair of heavy leather gloves, scanned the pitch-dark canyon for a moment and walked out. Within a few minutes he returned carrying the hawk. How he found him in that tall grass and the pitch dark I do not know. That is his wisdom. He gently placed the hawk into a large animal transport crate and left.

A day later the raptor rescue organization called with an update. He was young and unskilled they told me. He was starving and had no strength left. Had we not rescued him the coyotes would have killed him that night. It happens a lot, they told me, with hawks and eagles and falcons. The raptor rescue people were teaching him to hunt, and planned to release him into the wild in a few weeks. That was the last I heard.

These events caused me to reflect on a number of things. Of fear, for one. Why were the people scrambling up the canyon wall afraid? They were actually the ones who endangered the hawk. He was nearly powerless against them, had they chosen to engage him. Yet they did not know that. They ran in blind fear. I also reflected on community. It took the three of us strangers calling around on our cell phones to find the necessary help. I never saw those two people again.

And then there came the Hawk Whisperer. He came from where I do not know to help that young hawk. He came because a message went out over invisible pathways, summoning him. Did the hawk, once disabled, ever conceive of him? Or in what form, or indeed whether help would come? Did the young hawk know Hawk Whisperers exist? Or did he just send out a message of despair and hope? And, perhaps, of expectation?

To this day when a raptor cries to me from the sky I wonder whether it is My Hawk. And whether he remembers.

And I am reassured that Angels exist. That help is always at the ready. Help that we cannot conceive of in our little imaginations. And that all we need to do is put the message out.


  1. I absolutely love this story. To help the hawk without humiliating it was a brilliant thing. It shows a sensitivity to the nature of the creature. People sometimes think of other beings as just dumb animals and have no respect for the dignity of the individual. I am very proud of you.
    E. le D.

  2. Really lovely story - thank you for sharing it with us :)