A hawk that was rescued by a fast-acting Metro-North engineer who came to its aid after it was caught on the tracks in Connecticut was released back into the wild in Fairfield County.
In May, Metro-North engineer Larry Allain was operating a Danbury branch train in Fairfield County when he spotted a large bird on the tracks.
A bird enthusiast, Allain was able to slow the train safely and on time, at which point he said that he realized it was a red-tailed hawk that was injured and unable to fly off the tracks.
Officials said that Allain stopped the train inches from the injured hawk, was able to get out of the train, got down on his stomach on the track, and coerced the hawk to move toward him, though it was unable to fly.
As Allain reboarded the train, he notified a rail traffic controller at Metro-North's Operations Control Center, who contacted the MTAPD Stamford District office.
MTA Police Sgt. Anthony Ferrara and Officer Roman Somko responded and found the hawk lying on its side. Somko was able to safely remove the hawk from the track area and place the hawk in his vehicle.
The bird was taken to the Stamford Animal Control facility and taken to the South Wilton Veterinary Group for x-rays that found it had a fracture in the ulna of the hawk’s left wing.
Vets agreed that the hawk would not need surgery and the fracture would heal naturally, and it was taken to Christine’s Critters in Weston to begin rehabilitation.
MTA officials said that the hawk spent five months at Cristine’s Critters healing and maturing, and since it was rescued, it is now fully grown.
“When we heard of this bird that had been hit by a train, we knew that we wanted to help,” Christine Peyreigne, founder of Christine’s Critters said.
“And I just want to say that it's thanks to Larry stopping the train that this bird was able to be rehabilitated,” she added. “We can't do our job as rehabilitators if it weren't for kindhearted people that stopped their car or in this case, stopped the train.”
On Thursday, Oct. 21, the hawk was deemed healthy enough to reenter the wild and it was released at the Brinckerhoff Nature Preserve in Redding.
“For me to watch this bird fly away today was incredible,” Allain said. “I was operating a passenger train full of people and, and I saw something large it almost looked like a chicken.
“So I slowly brought the train to a stop within probably a foot of it, and I got down and I knew that it was obvious something wasn't right,” he added. “It was looking up at me but it wasn't moving. So I climbed back up, got on the radio with the Operations Control Center, and then MTA PD responded.”
Catherine Rinaldi, the President of Metro-North Railroad, said that “this story embodies the spirit of the Metro-North family. It is thanks to the immediate action of these three men that this hawk is alive and back in the wild. We hope this celebration shows our appreciation for their efforts.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.