Red-tailed hawk crashes through Half Moon Bay apartment window

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A Half Moon Bay couple on their way to get married was met with a slight delay after a red-tailed hawk smashed through the window of a neighbor's home.

The Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA) said last Friday a man and his fiancée were outside with their baby, on their way to their wedding ceremony, when they witnessed a large bird shatter through the glass of their neighbor's second story unit.

The concerned couple contacted the PHS/SPCA to help rescue the animal. 

"The hawk was stuck inside the bedroom, and there was great fear he would attempt to fly out through the shattered glass and injure himself," said PHS/SPCA's Communications Manager Buffy Martin Tarbox. 

It took some work for rescue workers to access the unit where the bird was stuck because the resident who lived there was not home. 

They eventually managed to contact the resident and got permission to enter the unit. PHS/SPCA also reached out to the Coastside Fire Protection District and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office for assistance. 

Fire crews arrived and used a ladder to access the second floor window. They safely removed the damaged glass, gained entry to the unit and let animal care workers in through the front door.

Workers managed to secure the hawk and to their relief found the bird may have been quite rattled but was unharmed.

"We thoroughly examined the bird and discovered, happily and frankly surprisingly, that he had suffered no injuries," Tarbox said.

Once rescue workers determined the bird was okay, they released it back into the wild.

PHS/SPCA officials said it's not uncommon for birds to slam into a building window, and often the outcome is not good. 

In fact, they estimated that every year, about a billion birds die in the U.S. after flying into a window.

Wildlife care experts said people can help prevent strikes by adding decals, stickers, sun catchers or masking tape on the outside surface of their windows. 

They explained that sometimes birds will be attracted to what they see through a window or may even be attracted to the reflection on the window and won't know there is glass in front of it. 

Officials said adding stickers or decals to windows can help break up the appealing illusion. 

As for the rescued hawk in Half Moon Bay, it was the bird's lucky day. 

"We have never had a hawk entirely break through a window," said Tarbox. "It's a miracle the hawk wasn't injured."