News release
Public Information Office   SLU 10880   Hammond, LA 70402   phone: 985-549-2341   fax: 985-549-2061 Spring 2004 news releases Public Information home News archive

Contact: Christina Chapple
Date: 1/22/04
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HAPLESS HAWK – A young red-tailed hawk huddles in a tree on the Southeastern Louisiana University campus recovering from an unscheduled visit to a campus office building. Early Wednesday morning the hawk startled campus employees when it crashed in one window and out of another in the Tinsley Hall annex.

HAWK DAMAGE – Southeastern Louisiana University Center for Faculty Excellence staffers Dane Bounds, Gail Campbell and Cindy Vernon survey one of the broken window left behind by the unexpected visit of a red-tailed hawk.

      HAMMOND -- Cindy Vernon didn’t expect to begin her workday Wednesday nose-to-beak with a bird of prey.
      It happened just after the Southeastern Louisiana University secretary arrived at her office in the annex to Tinsley Hall, where she works as administrative secretary for the Center for Faculty Excellence. A small one-story structure on Friendship Circle, Tinsley Annex has offices flanking one long hallway with doors and full length windows at each end.
      Vernon had just clocked in when she heard a loud crash in the still-empty building. Peering out of her doorway on the hall’s east end, the startled secretary saw a large -- and equally startled -- hawk eying her from west end. The dazed bird, surrounded by glass shards, was still clutching the squirrel it had nabbed for breakfast. 
      When the hawk flexed its wings for flight, Vernon rapidly retreated. Slamming her office door, she excitedly phoned the center, located steps away in Tinsley Hall. “I told them not to come in here, because there was a huge bird in the hall,” she said. Colleague Dane Bounds, accompanied by several students, wasn’t about to heed such an intriguing warning. “Being a guy, of course he came right over,” Vernon laughed.
      Bounds found that the hapless hawk had already flown the coop -- hallway, that is -- this time crashing through the east end window.
      “It was there on the ground and just flew up in our faces,” he said. Vernon, he added, laughing, had to be coaxed out of her office. “I wasn’t going out in that hall,” she said. “That bird was much too big for me!”
      Maintenance workers quickly arrived to assess the damage – “There was glass halfway down the hallway,” Vernon said – and to dispose of the hawk’s abandoned squirrel.
      The hawk made it as far as a tree just outside nearby McGehee Hall where it remained all day, nursing what appeared to be an injured beak and providing a topic of conversations for neck-craning passers-by. 
      Among those who eyed the bird as it huddled with puffed and ruffled feathers on its perch was biology professor Brian Crother, who identified it as a young red-tailed hawk. “He didn’t look like a happy bird,” Crother said.
      While red-shouldered hawks are common in the area, Crother said red-tailed hawks are rarer. “These guys tend to like a more open area, although they pass through when they migrate,” Crother said. “This little one probably just didn’t go where he was supposed to go.”