A Highlawn Road resident was jolted by a surprise "passenger" Sunday afternoon when a red-tailed hawk flew into his car as he was driving on the Merritt Parkway.

According to Animal Control Officer Paul Miller, Don Caitlin was traveling south on the parkway in Trumbull around 1 p.m. when the hawk flew into the windshield of his car, then bounced off the side window and fell into his lap. Caitlin drove for a short distance with the stunned hawk in his lap, before pulling over and putting the raptor into the passenger seat.

When he got home, he called the animal control staff, which picked up the injured hawk and kept it overnight before bringing it to a local veterinarian.

Miller said that while the bird was hurt by flying into the car, it is not known if it had suffered an earlier injury or illness that caused it to collide with the vehicle.

He said if the hawk survives, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's wildlife division will be contacted for possible follow-up care or release.

In March, town officials had to call in a falconer from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to capture a male red-shouldered hawk, one of a pair of territorial raptors believed to have been attacking people in the area around Fairfield Ludlowe High School, not far from the birds' Barlow Road nest.

At least five people reported being attacked by a hawk, including several students.