Rest in Peace, Tiercel aka "Dad."
The male hawk who has nested with his mate the past four years on the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia was killed on Saturday morning. He had been missing since Friday night and a kind motorist confirmed today via the hawk group on Facebook that a hawk was struck by a truck around 6:30 AM while hunting along I-76 near the Franklin Institute. Given the location, the hawk killed by the truck almost certainly was the dad for the Franklin Institute's nest. He had proven to be a superb hunter and a devoted father, and he died trying to find food for his family. Mom is soldiering on, and the Franklin Institute is providing her with extra food to help. If you'd like to check out the nest cam, it's here: http://www.fi.edu/hawks/
Like an urban hawk, as a runner I have to deal with the dangers posed by cars and other vehicles every day. I've missed being killed myself several times by a matter of a few inches -- and many of those times, I did nothing wrong (like a car making a left turn INTO me, or a car illegally making a right on red). So maybe that's partly why I am bothered so much by the death of Dad.
Hawks here in Cleveland also like to frequent freeways and you will often see them sitting on light posts above traffic. I nearly inadvertently hit a hawk myself last December while coming off the Ohio Turnpike onto Interstate 71; the hawk flew inches above my car and we missed each other by a matter of a few split seconds. So I know this was almost certainly a terrible accident -- dad probably misjudged distance or simply didn't see the truck coming -- and the truck driver likely couldn't have done anything. But sometimes it *isn't* an accident that causes people and animals to die by being hit by traffic .... it's sheer being in a hurry or distracted, and I wish people would be a little more careful driving their cars.
This photo is very likely dad; a larger bird with a solid red tail was sitting on top of the Franklin Institute, and as one of my birder friends pointed out, that year's juveniles would not have solid red tails yet. Since dad is smaller than his mate, I have to conclude this is dad.
I like this photo because he is taking off in it. As Della Micah put it so eloquently on the awesome HawkWatch blog, "As hard as it is to accept this awful reality for Dad, I am glad that he was not poisoned or trapped, or suffered a slow death from an injury. It seems right that he was airborne, swooping in the early morning sun, and hunting for his family right to the end." A fitting requiem for dad.