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Rehabilitated Hawk Released on NCC Campus

by Mallory Vough
November 25, 2009

Joe Homay, an electrician who has worked at Northampton Community College for 19 years, is having a heroic year.

In late June, Homay saved two fishermen whose boat capsized on Ranger Lake in Egypt, Pa.

Earlier that month, Homay also saved someone else, but it wasn't a human that needed his help.

Homay was walking near the rear of College Center on NCC's main campus around 6:30 a.m. when he saw something out of the corner of his eye.  When he looked closer, he realized it was a red-tailed hawk hunkered down in a corner.  "I thought the bird was eating something, but as I got closer I didn't see any other animal," Homay said.

Homay slowly walked closer to the hawk and knelt down next to it.  "I started petting her on the head, trying to see if there was blood," he said.  "I felt around her feathers and looked for signs of broken bones.  I couldn't find anything physically wrong with her."

The bird never tried to fight or struggle, according to Homay.  "She was just looking at me," he remembered.  "She didn't try to bite or anything.  She just turned and looked at me."

Homay knew something was still wrong with the bird.  "I thought to myself, 'Well, I know you can't get this close to this type of animal and they'll never corner themselves.'"

He immediately started making phone calls, which was no easy task at 6:30 a.m. when not many people are in their offices yet.

Finally Homay reached the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center.  He was instructed to put a box over the bird to keep it contained and calm until someone from the center could get to campus.

After the hawk was taken to the center, Homay continued to wonder what happened to her.  "I started bothering them maybe three days later," said Homay.  "I wanted to know what happened to the bird.  Did she die?  Will she be OK?"

Homay was told the immature red-tailed hawk was severely dehydrated and had eaten something poisonous.

According to Barbara Miller, a capture and transport specialist from Pocono Wildlife, it is suspected the hawk ate a mouse that had eaten poison.

Pocono Wildlife kept the bird, which now has a U.S. Geological Survey band around its leg, for five months.  "Joe acted so quickly that we were able to treat her before the poison destroyed her internal organs," said Miller.  "We gave her care and support until we were sure she didn't suffer from permanent organ or brain damage."

In all, the cost to rehabilitate "Josephine," who was affectionately named after her rescuer, was $800.

Homay presented Miller with a check for $100 to be put towards the cost of Josephine's care on November 25 when the hawk was released on the NCC campus and back into the wild with Homay by her side.

"I will be sending another check in December and another in January," added Homay.

Homay was more than thrilled to watch the hawk fly away, although she chose a lamp post as her first landing spot instead of the nearby trees.

"I really wanted to see that bird again, but under different circumstances," he said.  "I'm such an animal lover.  As soon as I see their faces, I'm done."

Watch the event unfold at WFMZ.com.

© Northampton Community College 3835 Green Pond Rd Bethlehem, PA 18020 610-861-5300