New York's Loveable Hawk

Pip, the baby hawk, has graduated from the nest

By Gabe Pressman
|  Friday, Jun 24, 2011  |  Updated 7:13 PM EDT
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John Beckman

Pip, Pip, Hooray!

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Pip, the baby hawk, has flown the nest.

And her ardent fans are in mourning. Pip came out of her shell seven weeks ago. And, since then, her parents, Bobby and Violet, have been watching her, ahem, like a hawk. They brought her assorted delicacies to eat, including dead pigeons.

On Thursday, In ornithological terms, Pip graduated from juvenile to fledgling.

She was camped in the nest on the 12th-floor ledge of New York University’s Bobst Library. One of the parents flew up to the nest clutching some pigeon meat in her beak, then quickly flew off, out of view. The New York Times says this is a "standard ploy" used by red-tailed hawks to lure juveniles out of the nest. Pip took the lure -- and took the first flight of her young life to another university building about 200 feet away.

The hawk family built its nest on a window ledge right outside the office of, all people,  John Sexton, the president of NYU. Every morning Sexton would check on his guests -- rooting for the parents and their baby.

He was joined by thousands of other people who watched a special television broadcast of the family from a camera in an adjoining window. Many among NYU’s 42,000 students were enraptured by Pip and her parents.

How did President John Sexton feel about the exit of his guests?

"I’m a little sad," he confessed to me. "It’s like having a second university commencement, a bittersweet moment. I got used to checking up on them every morning by looking out at the ledge."

The nest is empty today, except for the debris left behind, including some droppings, animal bones, a hand towel and some Easter basket grass.

John Beckman, a university spokesman, said that urban park rangers would continue to monitor the young hawk to make sure she is safe from harm.

The New York Times, which has been chronicling the doings of the red-tailed hawk family got a ton of emails on Pip’s progress. When Pip finally took her first flight, here’s a sample of what people wrote on the internet:

Selma, NYC -- "Well done, Pip."

Kristy, Minneapolis -- "Thanks NYTimes City Blog, for sharing this experience with the world -- literally. Folks from around the world logged in to watch Pip and family…It’s a conflict of emotions: Unbelievable joy to see this baby fledge just like nature programmed her to do; and profound sadness not to see "our baby" every day."

MasayaNYC -- "Yah for Pip! Now the hard part starts. Those pesky teen years."

LS Brooklyn -- "Awww. Empty nest syndrome has struck for me."

A.N. Los Angeles -- "Godspeed, Pip. It was a pleasure and an honor to watch you!"

If hawks appreciated that kind of thing, I would recommend that Pip be awarded an honorary degree at the next commencement. She made her mark on the world even before she was born! There aren’t any honorary degree recipients who have achieved that goal.

My warm congratulations to Dr. Sexton. He surely deserves some credit for allowing the hawk family to use his window ledge -- and letting New Yorkers share in this blessed event.

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