WAXAHACHIE — Rarely does one with intentions of purchasing home goods or produce do anything other than walk, or in some cases, roll into the Waxahachie HEB.
There are, however, those with feathers and other intentions.
After a Hawk — and not the Red Oak kind — flew into the store for a five-day stay, Waxahachie HEB Manager Bruce Galves presented a $500 check to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Inc., a bird sanctuary after the nonprofit nursed their "mascot' back to health.
“We wanted to say thank you for what Rogers Wildlife did for our hawk,” Glaves began. “We appreciate them so much for taking care of him [the hawk].”
Going through the nonprofit’s website, the HEB team gave an additional $250 in HEB gift cards to help supply the shelter with needed items.
“I’ve seen the worst and the best of humanity in this job,” began Kathy Rogers, owner of the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. “We see the people who want to harm them, and we see the people who want to save them, and you guys did just that – you saved him [the hawk].”
Arriving on Tuesday, Aug. 8, the hawk soon became part of the HEB family as it lived in the store for the next five days before it was eventually rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
“The hawk followed another bird into the store, and of course it couldn’t find its way out,” Glaves explained the rare occurrence. “We have paneled windows in our cosmetic department, so he [the hawk] tried to get out of those windows, but couldn’t.”
“At first it was little frightening because we didn’t know if this was a bird that would attack people or if it was a calm bird,” chimed in Michelle Munoz, HEB’s Cosmetic Manager. “But once I figured out that hawks don’t generally swoop on a person as long as you keep everything calm, we were good with him.”
“We kept customers from agitating the bird, kids from screaming at it, but for the most part, he was fine. We just felt bad for him,” she added.
Elevated high in the rafters, the hawk stayed out of reach of onlookers, remaining uncatchable.
“Hawks are notorious for chasing things into warehouses,” Rogers noted. “We get those calls almost daily. And when they’re flying around, it’s virtually impossible to catch them.”
Because the HEB company strives to be environmentally conscious through conserving natural resources and being energy efficient, Glaves carried that standard as he searched for the best way to help to remove the hawk carefully.
“We wanted to get him out safely, but you can’t mess with a hawk unless your license to do so because they are federally protected,” Glaves acknowledged.
“It was interesting because we had so many people involved because we wanted to do it safely,” Glaves recalled the almost weeklong rescue. “We had a couple of independent volunteers who were licensed, the game warden came, and the Fort Worth Zoo offered to help as well.”
“So many customers were coming up to us like, ‘You have a hawk in here,’ and we were like, ‘We know,’” Munoz laughed. “Most of the customers were just concerned about him, and they were like, ‘What are you guys doing?’ And I would tell them all the people we contacted and that we’re taking the proper steps to help it.”
As the community lent its support and sent out licensed individuals to try to rescue the hawk, Glaves recalled one night they almost succeeded.
“We actually got the hawk out one night, but it flew back in,” Glaves chuckled. “And we think it’s just because the lights in the store might’ve confused him for daylight.”
Though time went on and the bird grew weary, Lone Star Law's Ellis County Game Warden, Jeff Powell, was called to the scene, finally able to catch the worn-out traveler in its tired state.
“So the poor little bird hit the window pretty hard, dazed itself, so the game warden was just able to grab it. I mean after five days he [the hawk] was just tired,” Munoz described.
“As silly as it sounds I cried when it left because we had gotten so used to having it around,” she admitted.
On Sunday, Aug. 13, the hawk looked far better than expected after its five-day fast and was escorted out and on his way to being rehabilitated before released.
Quickly transporting him to the Rogers Wildlife Center in Hutchins, the hawk turned out to be a non-compliant patient.
“We had to force feed him for several days because he was just not having any of it,” Rogers recollected the bird’s recovery process. “We tried mice, birds, meat - we tried everything, and he would just hang on the door and squawk.”
“And then we thought we could hold onto him for a few more days, but he started picking up on his own and throwing himself around,” she included.
Though the hawk was not an easy keeper, he became physically sound within a couple of days and was later released to fly free.
“We don’t make anybody leave until they’re ready to go, and he was ready, so we open the door, and he flew out,” Rogers described the moment.
And as many customers and onlookers grew familiar of the feathered HEB mascot, Glaves and his team are glad for his safe return back into the wild.
“We already miss him,” Glaves said to Rogers.
“You know, he may be back,” Rogers joked.
To connect with Waxahachie’s HEB, visit heb.com or call (972)-923-2283.
For more information about Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc, visit rogerswildlife.org or call (972)-225-4000.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer