South Seneca Central School District bus driver Don Covert assisted in the rescue of a red-tailed hawk that became trapped at the front of a school bus.
The Finger Lakes Raptor Center, which responded to the 911 call on May 26, posted details about the incident on its Facebook page.
“As bad as the sight was when I got to that school bus, this turned out to be a relatively easy rehab case,” a Center representative wrote. “The real story is the compassion and dedication of the South Seneca Central School district driver and transportation department.”
Covert was transporting nine special needs students at the time of the incident. The Center commended Covert’s steady handling of the bus after the hawk got caught on the bus grille, noting that the hawk escaped serious injuries. The Center relayed that Covert immediately reported the incident to his supervisor, and the children were transferred to another bus and were shielded from the potential traumatic experience of seeing the trapped bird.
The hawk was only ensnared for about 20 minutes before it was safely removed and taken to the Wildlife Hospital for treatment. Lance Heitmann, South Seneca Central School’s transportation supervisor, and another district employee helped Center staff with the rescue by pulling the grille bars apart so the hawk could be safely removed.
The hawk was in rehabilitation for 15 days before the Center allowed Covert to release it back into the wild. Other South Seneca Central School District staff including Heitmann, bus monitor Melodie Post, and Transportation Specialist Donna Boyce were also in attendance.
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The Center added that the incident occurred during nesting season and that the male hawk was most likely attempting to provide food for his mate and offspring.