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A rare great black hawk that has become a celebrity for bird enthusiasts in Maine was rescued by visitors at a Portland park after they found the animal on the ground and suffering from frostbite Sunday morning, according to a local bird rehabilitation center.

The hawk, which is native to Central and South America, was expected to be examined by a veterinarian on Monday, according to a Facebook post by Avian Haven, a Freedom, Maine-based organization that cares for injured and orphaned birds.

“The bird’s obvious difficulty was frostbitten feet. After some emergency care for that condition as well as general debilitation, the hawk was settled into an ICU for the night. This morning, he was alert and standing,” Avian Haven said in the post.

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A great black hawk had not been seen in the US until 2018, when one of the animals — with its distinctive black body feathers, a white tail with black bands, and a yellow cere above its beak — was spotted in Texas, bird specialists have said.

A great black hawk being treated at Avian Haven in Freedom, Maine, after being rescued from freezing conditions Sunday.
A great black hawk being treated at Avian Haven in Freedom, Maine, after being rescued from freezing conditions Sunday.Avian Haven

In August, hundreds of bird watchers flocked to Biddeford, Maine , to look for the hawk at Fortunes Rocks Beach, causing traffic jams and parking shortages. By November, the hawk had moved onto Deering Oaks Park in Portland.

It is believed the hawk sightings in Texas and Maine are of the same animal.

On Sunday morning, the injured hawk was found by the park visitors, including a skier experienced with raptors who recognized the hawk.

The bird was placed in a box, and the skier took the animal home with her and called Avian Haven, the group said.

A group of volunteers with the organization transported the hawk to Avian Haven in Freedom.

The 90-mile trip from Portland to Freedom is normally about an hour and a half, but in Sunday’s severe weather conditions, it took about four hours to bring the hawk to the rehabilitation center.

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“The hawk seemed nearly dead when it left Portland, but was provided with plenty of heat for the trip and had its eyes open when checked at the Topsham hand-off. The hawk was active when it arrived here around 5 p.m.” Sunday, according to the post.

Monday’s examination will include radiographs and bloodwork, Avian Haven said.

The group said it would post updates about the hawk’s condition on Facebook, and asked people not to call the center about the animal.

“Avian Haven is a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned wild birds. If there is an hawk in need of help, we will do whatever we can to help. And we would do the same for a sparrow,” Selkie O’Mira, the group’s Facebook manager, told the Globe in a text message.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.