I have a friend, “Holly,” who is truly an amazing person. He is very well educated with college degrees, by trade credentials, and by serious self-education. He subscribes to my blog and not one grammatical or typographical error has slipped past him. The moment the blog comes out, if there is a mistake, he often fires off an e-mail immediately so that I may correct my errors. For this, I am very grateful.
Holly is a natural born adventurer. Additionally, he and his wife, “Mrs. Holly,” have a couple of the biggest hearts I think have ever been possessed by human beings.
One of the things I like about Holly is that he is also a pilot. Not a professional pilot, but one of those purist pilots who flies for sheer personal enjoyment and fun.
OK, now that I have written enough great things about Holly, I must say he finally did something that left me scratching my head. I did not realize the man lacked the common sense to fear heights; I just have to come out and say it. He is a nut! I can’t believe he did what he did. Then again, I was not surprised at all.
There he was enjoying his late afternoon at work when campus security called (he works at another nearby college). It seems there was a problem down at the ballpark in need of his attention. (Whenever anyone has a problem needing fixing, they always call Holly, because he can fix almost anything and everything.) Holly jumps on his trustworthy little golf cart and heads off to the ball field.
What he finds is campus security, state wildlife officers, and a bunch of onlookers. One of the wildlife officers is holding a canvas bag from a grocery store. In it is a red-tailed hawk chick. (For more on raptor nests, see Easter and the Decorah Eagles).
Evidently, the chick had fallen out of its nest and now the assembled entourage was trying to figure out how to get the chick back into the nest, on top of the light pole, 75 feet above the ground. So, Holly, the fix it man, simply says, “Well, climb on up the pole and put it back.”
What followed next was pretty funny. The security officer says, “Not me. Not in my job description.” He turned and looked at the wild life officers.
“Don’t look at me,” the first said. “I don’t climb poles.”
“No,” said the second.
Now, I have to tell you I believe these men were very wise men. As one who suffers from acrophobia, I can also say I would have been one of those in the chorus chanting, “No! Not me!” I may be a pilot, but I am still afraid of heights.
There was murmuring within the crowd. The discussion with the wildlife officers boiled down to a comment that if they could not get the bird back in the nest, it would die. Holly, always having a practical solution to problems and having raised birds himself before, takes the bird from the agents and says, “Let me take it home and I will raise it myself.”
“Oh no,” said one of the wildlife agents. “You have to have a Federal permit to even touch these birds.”
“What do you mean,” Holly said. “I’m touching the bird now.”
“This is different,” the head agent says. “You’re with us now.”
Holly rolled his eyes and handed the bird back to the agent. He grabbed his ladder off his golf cart so that he could reach the lower rungs on the light pole. Then he turned around and said to the agent, “Gimme that bird.”
It was at this point Holly looked into the bag at the bird for the first time. What he saw, really was no “chick.” The bird may have been young, but it was big! Holly would later explain the bird weighed about two and a half pounds and had a wingspan of about four feet.
Undaunted, he slung the bag over his left shoulder and started climbing.
No safety gear.
The man has a lot of guts. I don’t think I could do what he did.
What Holly found at the top of his ascent was the nest, the bird’s sibling, and mama. The two birds already in the nest started screaming! Mama was big, she was mad, and Holly expected her to attack him and throw him off the pole at any moment. What he remembers most about the hawks, were their lips. They actually had lips.
Now he had a real dilemma. He had to hang onto the pole, take the bag off his shoulder, and somehow get the chick out of the bag and into the nest. All with mama and brother screaming. And flapping their wings. And baring their …lips!
He finally got the bag off his shoulder and faced his next problem. Mainly, how was he going to get the bird out of the bag and into the nest? What he finally had to settle on, was essentially dumping the bird in the nest.
Something amazing happened a few seconds later. When the mama hawk saw the feet and feathers begin emerging from the green bag, she stopped screeching. It seemed as if she knew what Holly was trying to do.
Moments later, after reuniting the baby with mom and brother, Holly was able to climb down the pole to the accolades of the onlookers. High-fives, back-patting and slapping, and congratulatory remarks flew around a little group. Until one of the girls looked up and yelled, “Lookout!”
Luckily, everyone was able to get out of the way, successfully dodging the stream of hawk scat.
© 2011 J. Clark