A TikTok video posted by a San Diego woman has gone viral, generating more than 20 million views. In the video, Amber Smet is recording herself as she rescues what wildlife experts identified as a juvenile red-tailed hawk.
It was like any other day for Smet last Sunday. She was out walking her dog Ruby in her Mission Hills neighborhood when suddenly, a scene that started above the telephone wires caught her attention.
”Saw this bird trying to land on a telephone pole, definitely missed its mark and smacked right into the front porch." Smet said. ”It sounded like the wind came and smacked the door shut.”
It took no time for Smet to step in and help.
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”I just ran up and was like, I had to help," Smet said.
So she did, recording the entire rescue on her phone. With ease and calmness, Smet slowly unhooked the talons and gently carried the red-tailed hawk to the patio of the home it flew into.
”I just felt like it was going to be OK," she said.
She had to be sure. So, she called San Diego Humane Society and was connected with Project Wildlife.
"They were like, Usually, we wait three hours to see if it can kind of get its balance back, I guess," Amber said. "Then we’ll come out if it’s necessary if he has any injuries or anything."
She waited to see if the bird would fly away. After more than three hours of watching it closely, and even giving it some space, it took off.
"Just flew away and it was like, oh, I felt like a mama bird. OK, you’re good now," she said.
Little did she know, the rescue of the hawk would accrue more than 20 million views over the course of five days.
"For being kind of a more shy person, this is like, woah," Smet said of the TikTok success.
Project Wildlife Outreach and Admissions Supervisor Fred Addesso told NBC 7 that Amber did everything right.
”She followed some very clear, safe steps to protect the bird’s safety and health, and to protect her own," Addesso said.
Addesso said San Diego Humane Society's dispatch center has been busy responding to calls across the county about wildlife.
"Around 19,000 calls about wildlife in just the last few months," Addesso said. "It's a staggering number but that's how many calls we've been getting."
The home the bird flew into appeared to be vacant, so no one else would've heard the impact.
”If someone had not intervened in that scenario, there’s a chance that bird would’ve died. It was flipped over, it was caught, it could’ve broken a foot, could’ve broken a wing. Those are injuries that may not be fixable," Addesso said.
It was almost like a fairytale ending.
”I felt like a Disney princess, it felt like I was living in a Disney movie," Smet said. "It felt magical.”
Addesso acknowledges that not everyone will find themselves in the same situation as Smet. If they don't feel comfortable handling what could be an injured animal, there are several resources across the county you can utilize.
Some organizations that can help are Project Wildlife, San Diego Humane Society, Department of Animal Services, California Fish and Wildlife or even SeaWorld's Rescue Center.