As soon as word reached the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Cams community that Ezra, the Red-tailed Hawk, had died on March 19, the tributes started to flow, and they still haven’t stopped. Ezra captured hearts around the world with his devotion to his mate, Big Red, and the 15 nestlings they raised together ever since the cams started streaming at their nest in 2012.
In addition to sharing favorite memories, hawk watchers asked how we could celebrate Ezra’s legacy. After sorting through feedback from viewers, moderators, and BOGs (birders on the ground), we were inspired to create a tribute that would help us all remember Ezra and pass along his inspiration to others through an educational panel on campus at a meaningful location.
“Look Up!” is one of the favorite refrains of the hawk cam community, a reminder of the beauty and drama anyone can witness just by looking up to see birds. We envision sharing this idea with passersby, using the educational panel to raise awareness of the hawks and other birds that choose the Cornell campus as their home.
To select a location for the panel, we reached out to BOGs Karel and Cindy Sedlacek who may have spent more time watching Big Red and Ezra on campus than anyone. They recounted how they used to watch Big Red, Ezra, and other hawks hunting on a hillside overlooking the Cornell Botanic Gardens, not far from the nest on Tower Road. From this lookout, they also watched a gardener maintaining the grassy hillside in a way that would attract hawks and other wildlife.
In May, we will begin working with the Cornell Botanic Gardens and the Campus Planning Department on the content, design, and placement of this educational panel that celebrates birds and the importance of creating habitats for wildlife. Pending approvals, this panel may become one of several created by others along a planned sustainability trail on campus.
If you have already made a gift in memory of Ezra by including a comment with a previous donation, thank you. Your previous gift will count toward this fund in his memory, and you will receive a thank-you email message from Bird Cams team along with a downloadable photo of Ezra in the coming weeks.
Thank you for supporting the Cornell Lab’s work in education and conservation, including the Bird Cams, and for helping us create a meaningful tribute to Ezra that will inspire future visitors to the Cornell campus to notice the birds around them and to learn about how we can all create safe and inviting habitats for birds.