ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A woman driving in Albuquerque’s foothills picked up an unexpected passenger near Tramway – a hawk. 

“I drive a lot, and I mean I end up seeing wildlife kind of wherever I’m at.” Katie Cornell-Poulter is an animal lover. “I saw a hawk on the side of the road, but it was almost in the middle of an actual car lane,” she said.

The hawk – tired from heat and dehydration – was on Tramway near Paseo in danger. Without hesitating, Cornell-Poulter decided she needed to do something. “I just grabbed it with my bare hands, and you know, opened my door real quick and put it on my passenger seat without really thinking it through.”

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Cornell-Poulter drove more than twenty minutes to the wildlife rescue of New Mexico to get the hawk help. She says employees at the wildlife rescue were surprised she made it with almost no injuries. “He got me a little bit on my finger, but you know, it was really superficial. It was bleeding a little bit, and then it pretty much stopped, so that was his warning – I listened to his warning, went inside, and I had the professionals take care of it.”

The hawk was treated for dehydration and gained enough energy to fly away back into the wild. Wildlife rescue staff told Cornell-Poulter her bravery saved his life. 

Cornell-Poulter has some advice for fellow New Mexicans who live around the foothills. “Carry gloves in your trunk, have a towel or a blanket of some sort because you never know when you’re going to – especially by the mountains, and we have a lot of mountains here.”

An expert we spoke with said if you’re going to rescue a bird — be sure to cover it with a jacket or a towel first to protect yourself from those talons. Or just call a wildlife rescue organization like Hawks Aloft, which has a raptor rescue line.