Last year, Athena and her mate, Atlas, nested on an elbow-shaped drainage pipe on the underside of the Triborough Bridge approach.
One day in July, after her offspring - known as eyases rather than chicks - had left the nest, neighborhood residents found Athena lying unresponsive on the sidewalk underneath the bridge.
She was dehydrated and anemic, and exhibited neurologic symptoms indicative of poisoning.
Athena "was helpless," said Bobby Horvath, a firefighter at Engine 264 in Far Rockaway who was called in to care for the hawk after lab tests confirmed she was poisoned by an unknown toxin.
Horvath, 45, moonlights as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. He has cared for hundreds of hawks, falcons and owls out of his Long Island home.
He fed Athena, and gave her antibiotics and fluids.
Though it is "very uncommon" for birds to survive poisoning, Horvath said, the plucky Athena perked up eight days later.
Wildlife rescuer Bobby Horvath saves Astoria's red-tailed hawk from poison