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East Villagers Fly Into Action to Save Hawk Trapped in Building

By Patrick Hedlund | January 5, 2011 9:08pm | Updated on January 6, 2011 6:43am

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

EAST VILLAGE — Talk about winging it.

Tenants of an East Third Street building helped free a trapped hawk Tuesday that got caught in a narrow air shaft and couldn't fly its way out.

A resident of the building between First and Second Avenues caught a glimpse of the majestic red-tailed hawk outside his window Monday and sent photos to the local blog EV Grieve.

The next day, realizing the creature was stuck, residents and the building's superintendent flew into action, calling in a hawk specialist to help with the rescue.

"I have to deal with pigeons all the time, but this bird was something else," said Fabian Rodriguez, 60, the building's super for the last two decades, who helped wildlife rehabilitation specialist Bobby Horvath save the hawk.

Rodriguez explained that he and Horvathwho recently helped care for an injured baby hawk found in nearby Stuyvesant Square Park — were able to shoo the bird up to a fourth-floor ledge, where they reached out and grabbed it just in time.

"It was just a matter of quick timing, and I was able to snatch the bird off a windowsill when it landed in the right spot," said Horvath, who brought the hawk back to his Long Island home after the rescue for rehabilitation.

He said the bird suffered minor injuries to its wings from knocking into the narrow shaft's walls, but was otherwise fine and should be released sometime in the spring after healing.

Rodriguez said he was excited to meet the feathered beast face to face.

"I've never seen one alive. I wanted to have that feeling," he noted of getting to hold the hawk once it was safely inside the building.

"Once you grab it from the legs, it's like a little pet," he said. "You can kiss it."

Horvath explained that the hawk got trapped because it didn't have enough space in the skinny shaft to fully spread its wings and fly to the open air.

"In a day or two, who knows, it could have starved to death," he said.

Another hawk, likely the trapped bird's sibling, was also been seen perched on top of the building, Horvath said. Its partner likely dove into the shaft to feast on the many pigeons that congregate there, he added.

"He was hungry, I guess," said Rodriguez, who had never encountered such an exotic animal before.

"It's a good feeling, especially when he opened his wings," he added. "It's beautiful."