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Injured ‘Arrow Hawk’ Makes Full Recovery, Released Locally



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Newtown resident Diane Costallos and her 10-year-old daughter Aspen had a full circle moment on May 13, when they got to witness the much-anticipated release of a red-tailed hawk they helped rescue earlier this year.

The compassionate mother-daughter duo were the first ones to spot and report the injured hawk on Boggs Hill Road on the evening of April 7, as originally reported in The Newtown Bee’s article “Hawk Rescued With ‘Arrow Skewering His Body,’ Believed Intentional” published April 16, 2021.

“We were at the right place at the right time and Aspen noticed. I’m just so glad for that — so thankful. She has a good eye,” Diane said.

The hawk had been impaled with an arrow, causing it to suffer multiple injuries and infections, and was thus nicknamed Arrow Hawk by many who were captivated by its story of survival.

Thinking back to that moment when she realized the bird of prey needed help, Aspen said, “I felt special, and I was proud of myself for noticing the hawk that’s alive today… he could have been up in a higher tree, but he was meant to be there.”

“I’m proud of you, too,” Diane said to her daughter.

If not for Aspen’s determination to have her mom pull over to help the bird, the domino effect of assistance would not have come to fruition the way it did.

The team effort consisted of Newtown Animal Control staff coming out multiple times, local falconer John White catching the hawk on April 9, Christine’s Critters taking the hawk in, and South Wilton Veterinary Group giving it life-saving medical attention.

Diane and Aspen followed Arrow Hawk’s statewide news coverage and social media posts for weeks to stay up to date on the bird’s progress. They even attended a public Zoom conference led by Christine’s Critters about the beloved hawk.

Then, in early May, after a 34-day rehabilitation, the two were personally invited to join Christine’s Critters in a small, private gathering for the Arrow Hawk’s official release at Holcombe Hill Wildlife Preserve. The 86-acre preserve is owned by the Newtown Forest Association and located on Great Hill Road.

Dr Raina Schunk, of South Wilton Veterinary Group, did the honors of opening the crate and releasing Arrow Hawk into the wild.

“He seemed healthy and strong,” Aspen said when remembering him soaring through the sky. “His wingspan was stretched out all the way, from my point of view… his wings were straight out, and he flew. Then he found a tree and watched us.”

Diane recalled how seeing the hawk “majestically” fly out to a tree reminded her of how far the bird of prey had come from when they first witnessed it fly with the arrow stuck in its wings.

Seeing Arrow Hawk healthy and released into a safe habitat was a moment the two said they will remember for the rest of their lives.

The hawk was not released in the location where it was found due to the fact that it is still believed someone in the area intentionally shot it. If anyone has information about who may have shot the bird, contact the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) at 860-424-3011 or e-mail deep.wildlife@ct.gov.

Christine’s Critters posted to its Facebook page the day of the hawk’s release and said, “What happened to this bird is heartbreaking. We wish that the person had been found, but our hope is that the person responsible for this despicable act has seen and heard the outcry and the pain and suffering that was caused to this beautiful hawk by his/her senseless act of cruelty. We hope that the person has learned to respect our wildlife and the critical role wildlife plays in our ecosystem. We hope they spread the word to others to never do something like this again.”

While there are still questions surrounding Arrow Hawk’s origin story, what is not a mystery is that the hawk now has a second chance at life and a community of people rallying for it — all thanks to a young girl’s good deed to stop and help an animal in need.

“It’s such a happy ending,” Diane said.

Diane and Aspen both encourage others to keep important wildlife contacts on hand, even programmed in their phone, in case they come across an injured or distressed animal. No matter what age someone is, they can make a positive difference to help animals in need.

Phone numbers they keep on hand are the for the Newtown Animal Control Center, 203-426-6900; Christine’s Critters, 203-856-5596 and 203-810-7864; and Wildlife in Crisis, 203-544-9913.

Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

At left is Dr Raina Schunk, of South Wilton Veterinary Group, releasing the red-tailed hawk that survived being impaled with an arrow. Ten-year-old Aspen Costallos watches it soar around Holcombe Hill Wildlife Preserve on May 13. —Diane Costallos photo
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