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Patrick Varine

When he walked past the Level Green Elementary batting cages on Tuesday, Brian Montgomery of Level Green probably expected to see a young man practicing to try and make it into Cooperstown someday.

What he surely wasn’t expecting was to see a Cooper’s hawk, unable to find a way out of the netted cage.

“I’ve seen other birds in there and helped them get out in the past,” Montgomery said. “There’s a small hole in the net on one side, and I’ve seen robins and other ground-feeders work their way in. But I can’t figure out what possessed a hawk to get inside there.”

Montgomery finished walking his dog and returned to the cages armed with a broom handle, a second long, thin piece of wood and some zip ties. He lifted up bottom of the net, used the zip ties to secure it and tried to coax the crow-sized adult hawk out.

“With a mourning dove, I just tossed some birdseed and led it right out,” he said. “The hawk’s instinct, though, is to go high. I thought it would get caught in the netting and we’d never get it out.”

Eventually, Montgomery decided leaving the raptor alone was the best plan.

“We had that big rain come through on Tuesday, and that was on the way when I was doing all this,” Montgomery said. “I thought, ‘Well buddy, you have about 15 minutes to figure this out for yourself.’”

He returned about an hour later.

“The storm had come and gone, and so had the hawk,” he said. “The craziest part is that just a few minutes prior to all that happening, I was thinking to myself about how difficult it is to get a good picture of a hawk.”

When he came upon the batting cages shortly afterward, he had to laugh to himself.

“I said to the hawk, ‘I’m going to try and get you out, but I have my good camera, so let’s get a few pictures first,’” he said.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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