A strange encounter with a hawk

It was late afternoon on Sunday Feb. 13, 2011. I was driving to Palo Alto to meet a friend to go to a concert in Stanford University. I was on the beautiful hilly segment of Highway 84 off of 680 heading west. Suddenly I heard a very loud BANG on my side window right near my head. Something sizable slammed into the window and it was so fast that I didn’t see anything. It caught off me guard. For a moment I thought the window broke but it was fine. I slowed down and looked in the rear view mirror and noticed something on the road so I turned around.

It was a big hawk! He had just taken a kamikaze style dive into my car. I assume my car got on his way of reaching a prey on the ground, unless he was going for my head! Regardless things certainly could have gotten quite ugly if I had my window open. I stopped on the narrow shoulder and got off the car. He seemed unconscious at first but he slowly started moving. He was definitely injured. One of his wings didn’t look quite right. The road wasn’t busy; only a couple of cars passed and I waved to make sure they don’t run him over. Then he got up and hopped to the side of the road. I don’t think he could fly any more. He sat there and just stared at me — injured, but still very alert, laser sharp focus, proud and intimidating.

A hawk that took a dive into my car

I wanted to help him but didn’t know how. I called 911; they said they couldn’t do much. I thought of somehow picking him up and taking him to an animal hospital. But I wasn’t sure how to handle him and I didn’t think it would be safe to ride with him, even if I could manage to get him into my car. Friends tell me that I should have called Animal Control which I think I also tried but couldn’t get a live person on the phone. I am not sure if I had the right number.

It was a strange and unfortunate incident that will stay with me. I can’t forget his piercing look right into my eyes and camera as I took a couple of shots of him. I feel some guilt for interrupting his hunt and foremost not being able to help him. I hope he made it. I have a lot of respect and love for nature and the wildlife. Ever since this accident that sentiment is even stronger.

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