Sheepshead Bay paramedic helps injured falcon found on the Belt Parkway

Medic: I want to name the bird ‘lucky’

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Photo gallery

Big man, little bird: NYPD Housing Inspector Vincent Salermo made an unlikely friend when he helped this wounded falcon off the Belt Parkway on Nov. 30.
Bird-loving brothers: FDNY Paramedic Matthew Giancalone (right) and his brother-in-law Joe Lombardi (left) came to the falcon’s aid after noticing NYPD Housing Inspector Vincent Salermo trying to prod the bird off the Belt Parkway with his nightstick.
Sir, you’re blocking traffic...: A highway patrolman from the 61st Precinct stopped by the Belt Parkway to check on the wounded fowl.
Drink up: The gentlemanly trio stayed with the injured falcon for two hours, occasionally petting the bird and offering it water.
A friend in need: Highway patrolmen from the 61st Precinct arrived with a dog kennel and the bird was safely transferred to an animal clinic in Manhattan.

A first responder is always willing to help a New Yorker in need — regardless of species.

An FDNY paramedic busy repairing his Hurricane Sandy-damaged Sheepshead Bay home took time to help a wounded falcon found in distress on the Belt Parkway.

“I heal people, not birds. But I’m still a New Yorker, so I decided to help it,” Michael Giancalone said. “That’s what I do.”

Giancalone said he and his brother-in-law was on a Home Depot run on Nov. 30 when he spotted an NYPD housing officer trying to shoo the disabled raptor off the highway near the Ocean Parkway exit. The cop was trying to prod the apparently injured bird into action with — of all things — a nightstick.

“I stopped and said, ‘put it under the bird’s chest and see if he’ll step on it, like a perch,’” Giancalone remembered. “That didn’t work, so I just kind of put the stick between the birds legs and made him walk till he was off the highway.”

Once the bird was out of danger, the kind-hearted trio went about examining the apparently flightless falcon.

“There was something wrong with it,” the medic said. “It seemed like the right wing was stinking out a little farther than the left one, like it was maybe busted, but I couldn’t tell.”

After making calls to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and local zoos — all of which refused to take the falcon — a Manhattan animal hospital agreed to accept the bird of prey.

The falcon seemed appreciative for their help as the trio stroked the bird and gave it water from the bottom of a Poland Spring bottle.

“He was just kind of hanging around,” said Giancalone. “He was letting us pet him. He was very cool.”

The paramedic said he hasn’t heard from the hospital — or the bird — since a police cruiser carried it off. He’s eager for any news regarding the falcon’s prognosis, and said he’d be happy to take it if nobody else claims the bird.

“I would love to take it,” he said. “I’d probably have to call him lucky, because, lets face it, that’s what he is.”

Giancalone’s falcon wasn’t the first fowl found stranded on the Belt Parkway in recent weeks. Last month, a driver spotted a wayward swan waddling across the Belt Parkway. Police officers spent the afternoon ushering the bird to its new home in Plumb Beach.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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