Multi-Agency Response Saves Red-tailed Hawk That Crashed Through an Apartment Window

By Hope Bidegainberry on August 20, 2019
California hawk in flight.

A multi-agency response from the Coastside Fire Protection District, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA) on August 16 resulted in the rescue of an adult Red-tailed hawk that flew into a second floor apartment window, shattered the glass and became stranded in the apartment.  The incident occurred at an apartment complex in Half Moon Bay around 7:45 p.m.

“Our rescue staff received a call from a man and his fiancée who were outside with their three month old baby on their way to get married in San Francisco when they witnessed a hawk fly into a neighbor’s window at their apartment building and crash through the glass,” said PHS/SPCA’s Communications Manager Buffy Martin Tarbox.  “The hawk was stuck inside the bedroom, and there was great fear he would attempt to fly out through the shattered glass and injure himself.”

The resident of the actual apartment the hawk flew into was out of town, but PHS/SPCA were able to contact the resident and obtain permission to enter the apartment to rescue the bird.  PHS/SPCA called Coastside Fire Protection District and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office for assistance.

“Coastside Fire Engine 40 raised their ladder to the second floor broken window and safely removed the damaged glass.  They then entered the apartment and unlocked the front door, where our staff were waiting to provide the hawk with whatever help proved necessary,” according to Tarbox.  “We thoroughly examined the bird and discovered, happily and frankly surprisingly, that he had suffered no injuries. Our rescue officers, specially trained to help all animals including native wildlife, released him back into the wild.  Bird strikes are a common call we receive, but we have never had a hawk entirely break through a window.  It’s a miracle the hawk wasn’t injured.”

About one billion birds a year die in the United States from striking glass windows. Window decals, stickers, sun catchers, mylar strips, and/or masking tape on the outside surface of the window can greatly reduce bird strikes. Birds are sometimes attracted to whatever they see through the (for them) invisible glass surface, or what they see reflected in it: either way, such products applied to the glass surface act to break up the appealing illusion.

PHS/SPCA’s Wildlife Care Center successfully rehabilitates 1,200 to 1,400 animals each year.

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