SOUTHLAKE - The Carroll school district may be known for its dragons, but everyone here Tuesday morning was rooting for the hawks.
The three red-tail hawks - a federally protected species - were rescued from their nest atop a defective 130-foot light pole overlooking Dragon Stadium.
Shortly after 9 a.m., a crane pulled a bucket holding a veterinarian, a school district official and a worker to the nest. They found the three furry chicks cuddled together in the center of it, said the veterinarian, Greg Moore.
The chicks, one female and two male, didn't flinch as Moore snatched them one by one and placed them inside the bucket, he said.
"The babies look good," he said after the rescue.
The light pole, which has hairline cracks at the bottom, is one of several in North Texas that has shown signs of potentially falling. The poles were manufactured by Fort Worth-based Whitco, which has declared bankruptcy.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave Carroll ISD permission to remove the chicks because of worries that the pole could collapse before the 2-week-old hawks could learn to fly.
"If the tower fell and they were up there, it could have potentially killed them," said Derek Citty, a Carroll ISD associate superintendent who rode in the bucket.
Onlookers crowded a parking lot next to the stadium to watch the rescue. Workers in the district's transportation department, who have watched the parent hawks soar around the stadium for the past three years, hauled patio furniture from their nearby building to the parking lot.
The crowd looked on as a male adult hawk watched the proceedings from 100 yards away. He spread his wings and soared toward the nest, swooping past the rescuers several times.
Bus driver Cecily Holstrom was moved by the hawk's apparent parental instinct. "It's a little sad, you know," she said.
On the hawk's last approach, he extended his sharp talons and plummeted toward a crane worker in the bucket. The man ducked, and the talons struck a steel cable hoisting the bucket.
"I could hear the wind rustling through his feathers," said Moore.
The rescued birds were immediately given to Kathy Rogers, who took them to the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Hutchins. The hawks will be released in a few months, when they are old enough to fly.
After the chicks were brought down, their parents sailed over and landed above the empty nest. They were homeless by Tuesday afternoon, when workers used cranes to lower the poles.
"I hope the pair returns," Citty said.
School officials said they plan to install new light poles before high school graduation at the stadium in early June.