New York man drives one-handed to rescue hawk that crashed into MTA bus

Only in New Hawk, kids. 

A majestic red-tailed hawk collided with an MTA bus this week but was saved when a good Samaritan ripped the shirt off his back, wrapped the bird up and drove one-handed to a wildlife rescue while clutching the fowl.

“Don’t worry papi I’m going to make sure they take care of you,” Juan M. Zorilla, 37, told the bird Tuesday afternoon as he held it in one hand and drove to the Wild Bird Fund on the Upper West Side in the other, video shows. 

Zorilla told The Post he was cruising northbound on Broadway during an enormous downpour when the hawk “just swooped down” right over his car and crashed into an MTA bus headed in the same direction. 

“I got out of the car and saw the bird, took my shirt off, and proceeded to apprehend it,” Zorilla, a general contractor who lives in Manhattan, explained. 

Zorba the Red Tail Hawk is released back into Central Park
Zorba, red-tailed hawk, was released back into Central Park.
Matthew McDermott

Luckily, this wasn’t Zorilla’s first wild encounter and he knew exactly what to do. 

“This is not only my second encounter with the red-tailed hawk, but I’ve had previous encounters with other species,” Zorilla explained when asked how he knew to bring it to the Wild Bird Fund, which helps an assortment of winged creatures that get injured in the Big Apple. 

When he arrived at the rescue, the hawk — which turned out to be a female who is now dubbed Zorba — was soaked to the bones but following a thorough examination and a check for concussions, she was in fine shape, said Rita McMahon, the fund’s director. 

Zorba was cared for by WBF animal care manager Ray Yampolsky.
Zorba was cared for by Wild Bird Fund animal care manager Ray Yampolsky.
Matthew McDermott

“She was completely healthy,” McMahon told The Post. 

“The main discovery was that she was very heavy and she was caught in the storm as she was chowing down.”

When asked about Zorilla’s fowl-wrangling methods, McMahon said he did the right thing by wrapping the bird up and holding her at the base of her tail “like an ice cream cone.” 

If he didn’t — “it would have been talons first,” McMahon said. 

“The bird would’ve been flying around in the car,” McMahon explained of the hawk, which counts small dogs and cats among its prey. 

The raptor rescuer let Zorba rest up for two days and after she aced a “fly test” in the fund’s basement, she was ready to head back into the wild by Thursday afternoon. 

Joined by Zorilla, who held Zorba inside a taped Bounty paper towels cardboard box, McMahon helped him set the fowl free north of the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir in Central Park.

Zorba was released back into Central Park with the assistance of Rita McMahon, Director of the Wild Bird Fund, and Juan Zorilla with his 7-year-old son Michael. Juan rescued Zorba last week after she struck a MTA bus.
Zorba was released back into Central Park with the assistance of Rita McMahon, director of the Wild Bird Fund and Juan Zorilla with his 7-year-old son Michael. Juan rescued Zorba last week after she struck an MTA bus.
Matthew McDermott

“Tilt it a little bit. Allow the bird to fly on its own,” Zorilla explained as Zorba stretched her wings and flew towards the afternoon sun. 

Zorilla carried the cardboard box with him out of the park, just in case the wild incident happens again. 

“I’m being nice,” he said. 

“Just carrying it for the next bird.”

Metro | New York Post

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