The red-tailed hawk who was recently found injured outside the U.S. Attorney's building in Brooklyn, was successfully released on Sunday, taking flight back into the wild by way of Central Park. Blair—named after The Exorcist star Linda Blair because of his ability to turn his head 180 degrees—had been receiving care at the Wild Bird Fund following its rescue by wildlife rehabilitator David Karopkin.

The hawk spent a few days recovering under the care of the Fund's veterinarian before returning to his "feisty" self, and once deemed healthy, Karopkin was reunited with Blair; on Sunday he did the honors of releasing him—just watch this magnificent moment:

"I feel reasonably good about my life right now," Karopkin, in a deadpan tone, told Gothamist, before adding: "It was awesome!"

The journey began on January 28th, when staffers at the U.S. Attorney's office noticed that a hawk had slammed into the side of its building, and then remained standing at the loading dock. They called Karopkin, who managed to capture the hawk:

"He was in truly bad shape," Rita McMahon, the director of the Wild Bird Fund, said of Blair.

His eyes weren't able to track movement, one leg was "terribly weak," and he was spitting up blood, she added, so they sent him to Dr. Sachar Malka at Long Island Bird & Exotics Veterinary Clinic & Hospital for a CAT scan. It turned out that he had a concussion and a contusion to his lungs.

After 48 hours, however, Blair—who has "a stunning red tail" and is believed to be a little over 2 years old—was in much better condition, "tearing up his cage."

Karopkin, McMahon, and others ventured to Central Park, just north of the reservoir, for his big release on Sunday. Karopkin carried a paper towel box with Blair inside, and said the hawk was "hopping around," anxious to get out.

McMahon suspects that Blair is a newcomer to the city, based on his injuries and the season. "Resident birds and raptors, they know their neighborhoods and where the buildings are. But this time of year, many birds are migrating south through New York City," she explained. "We think another raptor drove [Blair] into the glass" in order to protect its territory in Downtown Brooklyn.

Blair hit the building, but he also fell from a distance onto the ground.

Staff at the Wild Bird Fund marvel over Blair the red-tailed hawk, who is being held by a staffer.

Blair gets a lot of attention at the Wild Bird Fund.

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Blair gets a lot of attention at the Wild Bird Fund.
Courtesy of David Karopkin

"I’m just so impressed with the entire staff the Wild Bird Fund," Karopkin said, a long-time animal rights advocate. "It's amazing how quickly they were able to rehabilitate him."

Blair was Karopkin's first hawk rescue (he'd only rescued smaller animals and ducks and geese before, nothing with talons), so to aid him with future rescues, McMahon gave him tips. "I practiced on a chicken and then a gull," he revealed.

Two photographs of wildlife rehabber David Karopkin holding a chicken and a gull, his "practice" birds

David Karopkin at the Wild Bird Fund

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David Karopkin at the Wild Bird Fund
Courtesy of David Karopkin

"This is not the first time a hawk needed to be rescued," Karopkin said, adding that he hopes more people develop an understanding and respect for all creatures, whether they are urban wildlife or domesticated animals. (He spoke to Gothamist on Monday morning while heading to Albany for a State Senate committee vote to ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores; the vote was 7-0, and now it'll head to the full State Senate.)
"New Yorkers deserve a Wild Bird Fund outpost in every borough," he declared.

Actually, McMahon is working on that: The non-profit is looking for space in Brooklyn "because that's the number two borough" (after Manhattan) "where most of our cases come from." She's hoping for a space with foot traffic. While they do have a space they've outgrown in Queens, there wasn't a storefront, the way their Upper West Side location has, so "no one knew we were there... We need foot traffic, word-of-mouth, to have a visible presence," she said.

McMahon also stressed the importance of their desire to educate New Yorkers—"We'd like a public space to have classes, host school groups... we want to tell people about wildlife in New York City and let them see they are sharing this city with a great amount of wildlife," she noted, adding: "We have 50,000 acres of parkland, abandoned land, and marshland. And the birds were here before us."