Red Tail Hawk Freed From Lexus Grill

Maria Nikias
ABC News Blogs

In Texas, mechanics are not surprised to find critters in car grills.

“We’ve seen some bats, sparrows, things like that, and occasionally rodents and squirrel rats. Time or two we found snakes,” said Matt Whitehead, a mechanic at Grapevine’s Park Place Lexus.

But Whitehead was surprised last week when a customer came into his shop with a red-tailed hawk jammed in the radiator grill of the car.

“When I walked over and peered through the grill, that’s when I saw his eye and he blinked,” said Whitehead. “At that point I knew he was alive.”

The 2012 460 Lexus, a $54,000 car, was going about 60 mph when it collided with the hawk, Whitehead said.

The mechanic and two of his co-workers used pliers to break apart the already broken grill, while others huddled around taking pictures and videos.

After a few minutes, enough room was made for the hawk to be pulled out.

“When I took him out, he immediately started flapping his wings,” said Whitehead.

The bird kept attempting to fly, but wasn’t able to glide more than 20 feet at a time.

“He couldn’t fly, he was obviously hurt,” said Whitehead.

He and a co-worker took the hawk to an animal hospital where veterinarians told Whitehead the bird had no broken bones and only suffered a mild concussion along with internal injuries. They believed the hawk could have been hunting by the roadside when he got hit. The bird will remain at the vets to convalesce for at least a week, he said.

Whitehead was thankful he got to save the life of the red-tailed hawk, a  bird he only got a distant glimpse of while growing up in Texas.

“I’ve never been that close to one in my life. Never been that close to one ever,” said Whitehead. “Last time I saw one I was on top of a tall tree by a river, probably 10 or 11 years old. I just remember my grandpa pointed it out to me.”