Eighteen year-old Nicholas Maille has worked on the family farm for his entire life. But what he saw in the barn last Saturday shocked him.
"I was cleaning up the leftovers and the cows got spooked and I saw this dark shadow and I was wondering what's going on," he said.
Turns out a large hawk had somehow gotten stuck in the barn. Unusual because all the doors and windows were closed. Nicholas immediately opened the barn door. "It didn't want to go out, but I threw a blanket on it and I actually held it and I actually pet it a couple of times and I took pictures cause I gotta show my parents, cause my dad is never going to believe me," Maille said.
Maille has seen hawks before in the fields surrounding the farm but this was his first close encounter. "To see him in a barn, it was a different story. They are a lot bigger -- their talons were like -- that big. I had to get my gloves -- leather gloves -- because I was like, there was no way I am going to try to touch this without some protection," he said.
And the experts say, handling the hawk was a gutsy move. "Although we don't encourage people to interact with wildlife, that was probably the right way to handle it with the blanket -- having an animal covered up tends to calm it down," said Steve Parren with the Vermont Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.
The hawk was so calm in fact, Maille was able to walk it outside on his arm. "I took it outside and it perched on my arm for a good minute or two and I was waiting for it to leave but it didn't want to, so I gave it a good boost and it flew off into a tree," he said.
And then eventually, the hawk flew off.
"I would think it was compromised somehow -- maybe starving or maybe injured," Parren said. "But my guess is it could be a young of the year, and it is tough to make it through your first winter."
Parren said Maille's visitor was likely a young Cooper's Hawk -- which preys on smaller birds.
At least the hawk got a second chance, thanks to a young dairy farmer.
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