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Aggressive hawk attacks Forest Hills woman

| Sunday, June 1, 2014, 10:00 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Eileen Bridge, 64, of Forest Hills was attacked by a red-shouldered hawk that has nested in a tree in her backyard.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
A red-shouldered hawk that has nested in a tree in Eileen Bridge's backyard along Filmore Road in Forest Hills. The hawk attacked her, injuring her eye.

Despite the warm, sunny weather on Sunday afternoon, neighbors on Filmore Road in Forest Hills watched the skies with apprehension.

A pair of red-shouldered hawks have been swooping at residents of the 400 block for the past two weeks. An attack on Saturday sent Eileen Bridge to Forbes Regional Hospital when one of the raptors crashed into her head as she washed her car in her driveway.

“All of a sudden, he came at me at 100 mph,” said Bridge, 64, who had a blackened right eye, a cut above her eyebrow and scrapes on her head and ear. “He hit me and knocked me down on my butt... I was a bloody mess.”

She lost consciousness for 15-20 seconds after the collision, and went to Forbes for a head scan to make sure she didn't have a concussion or some other injury, she said.

Bridge said representatives of the Pennsylvania Game Commission told her they'd try this week to climb the 70-foot pine tree on the hill behind her house to possibly move the hawks' nest and two or three chicks, leaving her afraid to use her back deck or front yard for several more days. A backyard cookout with her mother, son and grandchildren was moved indoors, she said.

Game Commission officials could not be reached.

“We've been keeping our kids inside after yesterday,” said neighbor Cathleen Perry, 44, who said the hawks have swooped low several times and intimidated her and her children, 6 and 2 years old.

“We're all kind of scared, because there are a lot of young, really small kids in the neighborhood,” Perry said. “I've been telling my 6-year-old to wear a hat when he goes outside, for all the good that will do.”

Sara Gorney got home about 2 p.m. Saturday and saw Bridge holding a towel against her head, with police cars around her.

“I thought she got hit (by a car). (Another) neighbor told me it was a hawk,” said Gorney, 38. “It's ridiculous. I live five minutes from the city. We've seen them out.”

“We've had hawks in Forest Hills for five or six years now,” said Mayor Marty O'Malley, who said he saw one in the top of a nearby tree.

Kurt Hundgen, director of animal collections at The National Aviary on the North Side, said the swooping was typical behavior for some types of hawk, especially as their chicks get older and prepare to leave the nest. It can take six to eight weeks for the chicks to leave the nest and the parents to move on, so it could be mid- to late June before Filmore Road residents can go outside without checking the skies and treetops.

“There's really not much advice for people; just to stay away from the area because it's a natural behavior,” Hundgen said.

Matthew Santoni and Bobby Kerlik are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Santoni at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com. Reach Kerlik at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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