HUDSON — Leslie Kleinert said she was doing was some weeding in her front yard when she discovered an unexpected visitor had come down from above.
"I finished one side of the flower bed and went around to the other side and spotted this little guy ... just sitting on the mulch," said the Canterbury Boulevard resident.
The "little guy," as it turned out, was a juvenile hawk that had apparently fallen out of its nest the first week of June.
"Then I heard all this chatter and looked up in a tree and there was a nest — a hawk nest — with two little babies moving their heads around," said Kleinert.
Kleinert said she thought the bird on the ground was a hawk, but took a photo of it and sent it to some "bird loving friends" who confirmed it.
Kleinert said some people advised her to put on gloves, place the bird into a box and take it to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary in Mansfield.
But the bird appeared active and she had seen the parents feeding it. Plus, the sanctuary’s website said it would likely survive if it was being fed, adding that she was also a little concerned about the bird’s sharp beak and claws.
"So we just left it alone because they are certainly not birds to fool with," she said. "It gives us the evil eye ... It is a hawk, for heaven’s sake."
Jamey Emmert, wildlife communications specialist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District 3 office in Akron, said Kleinert did the right thing.
Emmert said that a photo of the bird appears to be that of a juvenile red-tail hawk, but noted identification can be difficult because the distinctive red tail feathers don’t appear until adulthood.
She noted the bird’s wings are not drooping and it appears healthy and well groomed.
"Kudos to her," she said. "It does make them vulnerable to predators, but this lady absolutely did the right thing. It’s the best thing to do: Let the parents continue to take care of it."
Emmert said she does not believe any neighborhood cats will go after it, especially since the parents are around, and she thinks a coyote might even be hesitant. The biggest threat, said Emmert, would be a large dog.
"A domesticated dog, a lab or retriever, could definitely destroy this bird really easily," she said.
She said the hawk may have fallen out of the tree when it went out onto a branch in a spirit of adventurousness, stretched its wings and out of a natural clumsiness, fell. It may also have fallen out of the nest itself, with some help from a sibling.
"They get into a little bit of a squabble, just like any brother-sister combination, and sometimes they accidentally get knocked out of the nest," she said.
Emmert said grassy medians between a divided highway are favorite hunting grounds and the 2-3 pound birds typically eat rabbits, mice, squirrels, and the occasional snake. They will supplement their diets with insects and grasshoppers. They are typically around 2 feet head-to-tail, with wingspans of around four feet. They generally stay in the nests around six weeks after hatching.
"They’re probably our most common hawk," Emmert said. "They do really well in areas of human development and lots of activity.
"It will be on its own, probably within the next week. The parents might still dote on it a little bit. They’ll try to encourage it to feed and and show it how to feed, but within a couple of weeks, it will be completely on its own, 100 percent independent."
Kleinert said the bird’s favorite perch is a rock in her garden.
"I was going to go do some weeding in the flower bed, but now that it’s back, I think I’ll wait," she said.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP.