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Ellicott City falconer gets Christmas miracle

Posted at 5:40 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 18:55:06-05

ELICOTT CITY — A hawk that got away found its way back home just in time for Christmas.

Mike Thorn is a falconer. A falconer is licensed to raise, take care of and hunt with raptors. Like us, we use dogs to hunt a fox, he uses these beautiful birds to hunt small prey like squirrels, rabbits.

This sport has been around for thousands of years, Egyptian kings and pharaohs hunted that way.

"It's a very popular sport and it's the oldest sport known to man," said Mike.

Mike was out hunting with Bella and Brenda, his too Harris Hawks. They live in warmer climates. They captured a squirrel and Brenda came back to Mike, but Bella did not.

"I couldn't retrieve her down because she was fat and happy with that squirrel," said Mike.

It was a lot of panic that set in, so Mike put the word out on social media to look for a Harris Hawk named Bella.

When they are out hunting, the hawks have bells on their talons. 8-year-old Graham Keenan, an avid bird lover, three blocks away, heard the bells and saw Bella and then called Mike.

"Again she was in a tree so I couldn't get her down, she wasn't hungry," said Mike.

Now a snow storm was predicted for the area, time was of the essence. Days went by and Mike was trying to keep his faith and hope alive.

"I was right at the end of my hope and prayers. After six days in the wild she could have easily been taken out by a great horned owl or another predator," said Mike.

But, the phone rang and a family about 15 miles away heard the bells, and it was Bella.

"She came right to the glove, no hesitation at all because she was hungry," said Mike.

Instead of pictures of sitting on Santa's lap, these six kids had a picture with a Harris Hawk.

The last week for Mike has been filled with a lot of confusion, uncertainty and anxiety, much like 2020 for many of us but, maybe we can learn a little lesson here.

If we just keep our hope and faith, things will come back home and everything will be back to normal again.