Preston family speak of hawk drama

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A Preston family have had an unusual visitor - a harris hawk which swooped into their house.

Pervez Akhtar spotted the bird of prey standing on a car in his drive in Lower Greenfield, Ingol, when he went out for a walk on Tuesday night.

Pervez Akhtar with the harris hawk

Pervez Akhtar with the harris hawk

“At first I heard jingling and then I spotted this huge bird”, said the network engineer, 60.

“It was staring at me, so I thought I’d better get back inside, but he swooped down and followed me.”

Noticing the bird had jesses - leather straps used to handle tethered birds - Mr Akhtar held out his arm for the bird and brought it inside his home.

He added: “I thought with the straps on that it must be a lost pet and was looking for shelter. I was trying to get it like it was a chicken, but ofcourse it wasn’t.

“It was calm and friendly enough, but its talons were so sharp it pierced the top of my finger. If I’d have had it on the palm of my hand it would have been a mess.”

Mr Akhtar kept a tight hold of the female bird and his grandson fed her bread while police arrived to capture the bird 30 minutes later.

Lorraine Ellwood, the police’s wildlife and rural crime co-ordinator, said: “It is likely to have flown off from its owner having either been blown off course by wind, distracted by prey or was full (they are usually trained to return to the glove for a food reward, which they won’t do if they’ve just eaten.”

Police cared for the bird overnight and were expected to transfer it to a specialist centre yesterday.

Barnowl Bill Higham, an expert from the Barn Owl Bill Sanctuary in Leyland, received a call about the bird from another Ingol resident who spotted it on his roof on Tuesday, but it flew away before action could be taken. He suspects it belongs to someone local.

He said: “The man is very lucky he was not seriously injured because of they sink their talons into you it hurts - especially when they are hungry.

“I believe the bird followed him because it was hungry. They are getting more and more common because people buy them, and give up looking for them after two of three days if they escape. I think people who buy birds of prey should have to have a permit.”

Mr Akhtar said: “It’s certainly very ususual around here, we only usually get seagulls and ducks.”