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Red-tailed hawk is rescued after following St. Louis County woman around her yard

Margaret Dennis says the bird landed in a pile of leaves she was raking, and even followed her into the garage.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — An unusual bird story from a viewer in our Moment of the Day, which airs daily at the end of 5 On Your Side at 4 p.m.

Viewer Margaret Dennis sent photos of a juvenile red-tailed hawk sitting on a car in her south St. Louis County garage.

Dennis tells us the weather was warm when the bird started following her as she was raking leaves on Tuesday, Jan. 11, even landing in her pile of leaves at one point.

He got so close, Dennis could see he was wearing a leather strap on one leg and a bell on the other.

Credit: Margaret Dennis
A red-tailed hawk sits on a car in the garage of St. Louis County resident Margaret Dennis on Jan. 11, 2022.

So she called the non-emergency number for St. Louis County police, and they referred her to the World Bird Sanctuary.

The sanctuary has an injured bird hotline, and thanks to Dennis' call, the organization quickly dispatched Lauren Young, a rehabilitation technician, to Dennis' home.

At this point, the hawk was sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. 

Credit: Margaret Dennis
A red-tailed hawk sits in a tree in south St. Louis County before being rescued by a technician with the World Bird Sanctuary on Jan. 11, 2022.

When Young arrived, she put a glove on her hand and arm, looked up at the hawk, and then gave the glove two pats. The bird immediately flew to her and was given a treat of a dead mouse.

According to Young, the hawk had scratches and was underweight. She believes he either got lost while learning how to hunt or was released into the wild by its owner.

One of the missions of the World Bird Sanctuary is to rescue injured birds of prey. The sanctuary has already rescued 21 birds in just the first 13 days of 2022.

Last year, in 2021, the sanctuary set a record for rescues. It helped 631 injured birds of prey. Most of the birds it takes in are barred owls, also known as hoot owls. The sanctuary rescued 189 of those birds in 2021 alone.

If you see a bird of prey in distress, the World Bird Sanctuary asks that you call its Injured Bird Hotline at 314-337-8889.

Margaret Dennis says Young was very friendly and knowledgeable, and she's so grateful to the sanctuary for rescuing the bird.

The red-tailed hawk is now at the Sanctuary and will be released back into the wild in the spring.