Kate and Quinn were walking back from lunch, when they glanced up at the screen porch and saw this shape outlined against the broad expanse of the west-facing screen.
The only way into the screen porch is through the Main Lodge. We were pretty preoccupied with work that day, but not so busy that we would have missed a hawk flying in the front door, careening through the gift shop and restaurant, then out onto the porch. We at least would have noticed the part where the hawk used its bird feet to open the porch door. It was definitely a mystery.
And then there was the problem about what to do with a hawk on the porch. Somehow he managed to get into an enclosed porch, but he clearly didn’t have a good plan to get back out. The hawk was futilely beating himself against the metal screen, a hopeless endeavor.
So what to do? Get a fish net? That’s the usual plan when flying critters turn up in a cabin, but it never quite goes as well as you imagine it will.
Bob said, “I’ll use my falconer skills.” (Geez, it’s surprising what you pick up when you teach 5th grade for 30 years–who knew?) He reached towards the bird and it didn’t move, just calmly let Bob pick it up. Bob carried it out through the Lodge, then gently set it on the front deck railing. There was a worrisome fraction of second when the hawk sat on the railing looking dazed before it flew off into a towering white pine.
We think the bird was a Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus), although we’re open to identification thoughts from an expert. (Over time we’ve decided that was wrong; it was probably a Merlin.) How did it get into the porch? Through this hole, which it must have made by slamming full blast into the screen:
This isn’t wimpy plastic screen. It’s the heavy-duty, metal, squirrel-proof version, the kind you put on a porch with 7 foot tall windows that routinely get hit with flying branches. This bird was cruising. There wasn’t so much as a pin-feather stuck in the screen.
If Quinn & Kate hadn’t spotted the hawk on their way back from lunch, we probably never would have noticed it was there. Screen porches are for spring and summer; with an ice-covered lake and a few remaining knee-deep piles of snow, we have no reason to go anywhere near the screen porch now. Somewhere, perched in a pine near Bearskin Lodge, is a very lucky Broad-winged Hawk, saved by two observant animal-lovers and a falconer wannabe.