When Majestic flew the coop, Chatham heard the call.
The unusual bird – a five-year-old Harris hawk – took off from home on Father’s Day.
The red-and-black plumed bird, owned by Chatham’s Ted Hastings and his daughter who engage in the ancient art of falconry, had just had a backyard shower and was resting on a perch, tethered on a clip Hastings thought was 100-per-cent foolproof.
But it wasn’t. The bird, affectionately known as “M-J,” decided to go for a jaunt, broke the clip and flew away.
Hastings, who says he has a “symbiotic relationship” with the hawk, immediately posted her disappearance on social media.
The news went viral and soon eyes in Chatham were scouring the skies in the hunt for Majestic.
A sighting of the hawk was reported to Hastings and his daughter Gocalin within 24 hours, but even though he went right away and sat beneath the tree M-J was in for five hours, the bird wasn’t yet hungry enough to come to the bait.
“In the spring, their weight has to come down for them to fly and hunt,” Hastings said, adding he was just getting started on the bird’s summer makeover when she took off.
Just like humans, a bird of prey’s activity is increased in warm weather and the food is decreased to get them fit for hunting again.
Hastings said people continued to message him with sightings over the next week but was he unable to catch up with her.
The worried Hastings said he didn’t sleep well for nine nights, but on the 10th day, something magic happened. He received a call from Chatham resident Steve Kubica on Gregory Drive East who said he thought the hawk was in his backyard.
Majestic was finally hungry enough to come to her owner and Hastings had her in tow within five minutes.
“I was so happy,” he said, adding he and Gocalin were extremely grateful for all the tips they received from across the city.
Hastings said Kubica’s neighbours all came together to help him retrieve Majestic. One man went and got a ladder to help and everyone stepped away quietly to allow Hastings to retrieve the bird.
Another big plus for Hastings was the fact nobody would take the $500 he had offered for a reward.
“There are some really nice people here,” he said. “Steve and the other neighbours told me just to pay it forward.”
Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice