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Sad News, Young Hawk “L1” Found Dead

Fledgling L1 taking off from the ground.
Red-tailed Hawk fledgling “L1.” Photo by Cynthia Sedlacek

We are saddened to report to the hawk community that one of the fledglings from the 2022 Cornell Hawks cam has died. On the morning of July 14, a juvenile hawk was found dead on the roof of Cornell University’s Stocking Hall, where it was retrieved and delivered to the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital by a Cornell employee. Based on plumage characteristics and confirmed observations of fledglings L2 and L4 later that morning by local birders on the ground, the deceased hawk was identified as likely L1. Fledgling L3 is continuing treatment for an injury sustained on June 23.

Initial diagnostics suggested that L1 suffered a fatal collision near Stocking Hall. A necropsy confirmed that the hawk sustained a fatal injury due to blunt force trauma to the head, and this final diagnosis is consistent with a building strike.

Fledgling birds must overcome many challenges as they navigate the world outside the nest, and most don’t survive their first year. The news of L1’s passing is also a sobering reminder of the risks that birds face while living in an urban environment like Cornell University’s campus. Window collisions are estimated to kill up to 1 billion birds per year in the United States alone.

Despite the efforts made by the Cornell Lab, campus staff, and members of the hawk cam community to keep the areas around the hawks’ territory as safe as possible, it remains a hazardous place for young birds. We will continue working with stakeholders on campus to identify and remediate areas of risk to make them safer for our local birds and wildlife.

During this difficult time, we’d like to thank the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital, our birders on the ground, and the Cornell Hawk cam community for their support.

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Pileated Woodpecker by Lin McGrew / Macaulay Library