Violet the red-tailed hawk, who earlier this year built a nest with her mate, Bobby, outside the office of John E. Sexton, the president of New York University just overlooking Washington Square and, via a live-streaming camera, the Hawk Cam, entranced viewers as the two hawks raised a family and hatched a hawk later named Pip, has died on Thursday. According to Robert Horvath, a raptor rehabilitator based on Long Island, Violet died of “heart-related complications” after undergoing surgery to amputate her diseased right foot.
Viewers of the web cam had noted that, on the night of Pip’s birth, Violet’s leg was “severely swollen,” after being caught in what appeared to be a fishing line. Making matters worse was a metal wildlife band placed on her leg in 2006. Unfortunately, Violet’s injuries worsened over time as the New York Times’ City Room blog details:
Wildlife experts and veterinarians were summoned by the university and the state to determine if it was possible to lure her away from the nest and treat her leg, but in the end, they determined it was too risky to intervene. They decided to let nature take its course.
But it wasn’t long before Violet’s leg problems worsened. In November, bloggers following the story recorded video of her right leg dangling uselessly behind her as she picked apart prey grasped in her left talon.
Horvath and his wife, Cathy, captured Violet in Washington Square Park last Saturday and she underwent surgery on Thursday. Writing on the Facebook page for Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, the nonprofit organization that he and his wife run, Horvath reported that Violet had made it through the surgery well:
“She woke up and was sitting up fluffing her feathers. All of a sudden she had a heart attack. The vet did CPR on her for 20 minutes to no avail. X-rays showed that at some point after her right foot had deteriorated, her left femur was broken.”
The hawks building their nest and caring for their eggs in the urban landscape of Manhattan was a testament to nature thriving even amid concrete and power lines. But Violet’s right foot sadly attested to the damage human-made things, and humans, can (albeit unintentionally) inflict on wildlife.
Violet was believed to be about five years old. She is survived by Bobby, who already has a new mate (seen in the nest that Violet so recently left) and Pip.
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Photo of hawk in Central Park by flickr4jazz