Hawk Survives Crash Through Window

Bird trips burglar alarm, authorities respond

By Hannah Chanpong
|  Friday, Feb 18, 2011  |  Updated 2:00 PM CDT
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Jack Whigham recieved a call that his burglar alarm was going off on Monday afternoon. Sut he couldn't believe someone would be breaking in to his Indian Head Park home.

He was right.  His alarm went off when a red-tailed hawk flew straight through his living room window, talons first.

"We were shocked,” said Whigham, who speculates the raptor was after a crystal bird sculpture that sits on a table near the window. "[She must have crashed] like an aerial cannon ball out of the sky."

Even more shocking: the bird survived the crash.

The hawk, a female with a 3-foot wingspan, suffered unusually minor injuries, according to Chicago Bird Collision Monitors director Annette Prince, whose organization received a call from Whigham's daughter, Cindy.

"They're hitting the glass with a lot of force," she said. "Even from a dead start, a bird can fly at 30 miles per hour."

CBCM recovers thousands of birds every year in downtown Chicago and sixty percent of those don't survive collisions like this one.

Cindy said this particular hawk seemed more scared than injured. When she entered the home she had discovered the rather large bird standing underneath the dining room table, weary of the strange environment and a little scared. Cindy returned the sentiment.

She told her step father that she opened a few doors with the hope that the bird would fly out, but it wouldn't budge. That's when she called the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors for some help.

Cathy Patrick, a volunteer who also lives in Indian Head Park, arrived within minutes.

Patrick captured and moved the hawk to the Willowbrook Wildlife Center, where many stunned and gravely injured birds go for rehabilitation.

This feisty hawk was lucky. After a few days of monitoring, veterinarians gave her a clean bill of health and Prince released her back into Whigham's neighborhood, much to the chagrin of the neighborhood ecosystem.

"All the little birds that were in the neighborhood were aware that this predator was back," she said. "They spotted her right away."

Even in areas that are residential or heavily urban, it's common to find hawks' nests. Because of this year's blizzard, Prince said more birds are desperate for food.

"They are looking for food in every location and situation they can," she said. "Maybe this bird did see something inside."

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