rb hawk 012915 1The bird makes a break for freedom under the watch of a decoy owl. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


rb hawk 012915 5Red Bank volunteer firefighters rescued a juvenile hawk trapped in an open-air tower Thursday morning just as the animal appeared near starvation, an amateur ornithologist said.

The bird, a Cooper’s Hawk, had apparently been up under the peaked roof of the tower at the Medieval-style Courts of Red Bank office complex for days, having somehow bypassed steel netting installed just last fall to keep out pigeons.

  rb hawk 012915 6The hawk flying under the tower’s peaked roof, above, while George Sourlis, left below, and Second Deputy Fire Chief Pete DeFazio discuss rescue efforts on a tower stairway. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb hawk 012915 7Brothers George and Jim Sourlis, whose family owns the Courts project, learned of the bird’s presence Wednesday, and pried open a gap in the netting with a long ladder. When the bird didn’t fly out, they left the ladder leaning against the netting overnight, hoping that in the quiet of night it would discover the escape route, George Sourlis told redbankgreen.

But the agitated hawk was still there Thursday morning, when the Sourlises called the fire department for help.

Flying in circles, pacing on the net and returning to the remains of carrion it had apparently brought in with it, the hawk wasn’t going to be able to survive much longer, said falconer William Jasionowski, called to the scene by the complex owners for advice.

The Cornell Ornithology Lab describes the Cooper’s Hawk as “among the world’s most skillful fliers,” animals that “tear through cluttered tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds.”

This one, however, a female that appeared to be about eight months old, was in peril, said Jasionowski.

“See those green mutes?” said Jasionowski, pointing to the vivid splotches at his feet. “That means she’s starving. Her body is eating its own muscle. Another day or two, she’ll be dead.”

As he spoke, fighters working outside the tower from a ladder truck widened the opening in the netting that kept the bird in.

“Come on, baby,” said Jasionowski. And just like that, the bird made for daylight, and flew out. The half-dozen or so onlookers erupted in applause.