The explosive burst followed by the sound of shattering glass in Drew Arnold’s bedroom probably meant one of two things: Either an intruder was entering through the window, or a tree had smashed through his roof.
Sitting a few feet away in his living room, Arnold, who had just rolled out of bed a few minutes earlier, had no choice but to investigate.
He crept toward his bedroom door and opened it cautiously.
“Was he wearing any pants?” you may be wondering. The answer — which becomes relevant — is no.
Arnold peered into the room, then cursed loudly and slammed the door shut. Someone was in the room. Not good, he thought. Also: Incomprehensibly weird.
“He was just sitting on his butt with his feet splayed out, looking around,” the 23-year-old Kansas City resident told The Washington Post. “He looked dazed, with a sort of ‘Where am I and how did I get here?’ look on his face.”
“He” was a bird. A very large one, with a four-foot wingspan and two-inch knife-like talons and a frightening look of confusion on his feathered face.
As Arnold confirmed when he logged onto Wikipedia moments later, it was a red-tailed hawk, a species of raptor that uses its talons to tear into its prey, with some birds exerting as much pressure through their feet as an Olympic gymnast does on rings, according to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal.
This is the point when you suddenly recall that Arnold was not wearing pants (although he did have on a pair of boxers) and would have to venture back into the room at some point. Sharp talons and bare thighs are a precarious combination, which explains why his father’s casual instructions, shared by Arnold in a lively Reddit thread the next day, weren’t going to, um, fly.
“My dad was like, ‘OH HE’S PROLLY NOT THAT BIG, JUST THROW A TOWEL ON HIM AND TAKE HIM OUTSIDE BEFORE HE WAKES UP,’ ” Arnold shared on Reddit. “He failed to realize that the hawk was awake the entire time, and that I didn’t have any pants on.”
The thread got even more interesting when a Reddit user who claimed to have worked in wildlife rescue highlighted the potential danger of handling big birds, writing:
“Its funny, as someone who worked in wildlife rehab (which included going on rescues for situations like these), throwing a towel over it and gripping its legs so it couldn’t nab us with the talons is really all we did. and holding it away from your face. I know a girl who was holding a bald eagle with its back to her chest (how you’re supposed to hold one, just not close to your face where they can reach) America came up and bit straight through her cheek.”
According to Arnold, “Chris” from animal control arrived 45 minutes later, walked over to the animal and placed his baseball cap over the bird’s head to calm it down.
By now, Arnold explained, the animal was fairly exhausted. He’d just spent the previous 45 minutes knocking pictures off the wall, breaking the ceiling fan, ripping up the curtains, clawing the woodwork near two windows and coating the room with hawk poop.
As if to add insult to injury, the bird even knocked over a basket of freshly folded laundry.
“Chris just walked in and was like, ‘Hey, buddy’ and called him diminutive names and just picked him up and kept him calm,” Arnold told The Post.
Arnold took the whole thing in stride. Because he works with children at a pediatric psychiatric residential treatment facility, he said he’s used to having excrement thrown at him; in fact, he said, he has developed a sense of humor about such things. His main concern, as previously mentioned, was the razor-sharp talons in conjunction with the lack of pants.
The bird didn’t peck or claw at the animal control expert, but he did puff up a few times in an effort to intimidate. The tactic wasn’t particularly effective, because it looked more like the bird was proudly posing after his violent rampage, his face flashing a delinquent smile.
Arnold was still finding glass around the house a few days after the Feb. 6 incident. He found one large chunk in his bathroom 18 feet away. Even so, the powerful impact, which shattered two panes of glass, left the hawk mostly unscathed, he said. The bird, who was estimated to be 2 or 3 years old, was treated for leg injuries and three missing tail feathers and was expected to be released back into the wilds of suburban Kansas City, Arnold said.
Only one question remains: Of all the places a wild hawk could fly, why did it opt to fly through his bedroom window?
“It’s quite possible that that was my spirit animal and I let it go,” he said.
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