on image for publication quality photo
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.
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.
HAPLESS HAWK CRASHES SOUTHEASTERN
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