image-hawk crash
The Peninsula Humane Society, with an assist from the Coastside Fire Protection District and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, rescued a red-tailed hawk that crashed through a second-story window in Half Moon Bay on Friday. Photo courtesy Peninsula Humane Society

A red-tailed hawk flew into a second-floor apartment window in Half Moon Bay requiring a multi-agency response on Friday. In the end, the bird was rescued and released into the wild unharmed.

The Coastside Fire Protection District, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, and the Peninsula Humane Society/Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals responded to the trapped bird at around 7:45 p.m. on Friday. It was not immediately clear exactly where the incident took place but photos and video of the incident show the bird inside a second-story window.

“The hawk was stuck inside the bedroom, and there was great fear he would attempt to fly out through the shattered glass and injure himself,” said Buffy Martin Tarbox, the PHS and SPCA’s communications manager in a press release.

A couple was outside the apartment with their 3-month-old baby when they witnessed the hawk fly into a neighbor’s window, according to the release. The unidentified couple, which the PHS said was on their way to San Francisco to be married, stopped long enough to call the PHS and SPCA, which responded. The animal control agency subsequently contacted the Coastside Fire Protection District and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office for assistance. 

The resident of the apartment was out of town, but emergency crews were able to make contact to obtain permission to enter the apartment. Coastside Fire Engine 40 raised its ladder to the second-floor broken window and removed the broken glass before entering the apartment and unlocking the front door. 

The PHS and SPCA staff then entered to retrieve the hawk. 

“We thoroughly examined the bird and discovered, happily and frankly surprisingly, that he had suffered no injuries. Our rescue officers, specially trained to help all animals, including native wildlife, released him back into the wild,” said Tarbox. 

“Bird strikes are a common call we receive, but we have never had a hawk entirely break through a window.  It’s a miracle the hawk wasn’t injured.”

Approximately 1 billion birds die every year in the United States from striking glass windows, according to the PHS and SPCA. 

The agencies recommend putting window decals, stickers, sun catchers, mylar strips or masking tape on the outside surface of your windows to reduce bird collisions. 

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