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Larry the Red-Tailed Hawk takes flight from a Cambridge office building

Posted by Your Town  June 1, 2010 09:44 AM

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One of the red-tailed hawks nesting at a Cambridge office building took its first flight on Monday, startling the crowd of photographers and other onlookers that have gathered at the site for several weeks.

Two adults and their three chicks have called the building at 185 Fresh Pond Parkway home for more than three months. The dad is known as "Buzz" and the mother is "Ruby." The three chicks -- growing fast -- are called "Lucy," "Larry," and "Lucky" by the crowd of photographers who have documented their every move.

According to witnesses, the hawk known as "Larry" fledged yesterday, taking a flight from its nest on the side of the building. He crashed into the building, and then was rescued by onlookers.

"He fluttered awkwardly and flopped into the street,'' said Ernie Sarro of Winthrop, who has been featuring the family on his community access television show, “The Expert Series,’’ and his blog.

Two other hawk watchers, Sarro said in an email, "waved down the drivers and made them stop. They then they guided Larry off the road. He was stunned but limped behind the building while Buzz and Ruby circled and landed together at the corner of the building and kept an eye on the proceedings.''

"The police and the Cambridge Animal Control were called and responded. When they arrived, Larry had already managed to hop onto a car, fly over to a one story building, hop up to the wires of a light pole and very gingerly hobbled along the wire and against the pole,'' Sarro said.

Alison Price, an animal control officer for the city, said she asked the crowd of about 25 to 30 people watching the birds to disperse around 6 p.m. because she believes the presence of the onlookers stresses the hawks caring for the fledglings.

"I appreciate that they are fascinated and that they love them, but I think what is best for the hawks is to leave them alone," Price said. "They are stressed out. There is traffic there. They are trying to do what they need to do, and doing that naturally is impeded by everyone hanging out there."

Price said it is not uncommon for hawks to nest in urban areas, but the location at Fresh Pond Parkway is not ideal because of the cars and the crowds the nest has drawn.

While the fledgling's first flight Monday was not the smoothest, Price said it's not uncommon for the young birds to have difficulty flying in the first attempts. If the young hawks sit on the ground after attempting to fly, people often assume they are injured, but Price said it did not appear to her that the fledgling was injured Monday.

"Later, Larry flew from pole to pole and when I left at 8:45 PM, seemed settled for the night.'' Sarro said.

Over the weekend, a group of about two dozen photographers and other onlookers were at the sight hoping to catch a glimpse of the flight. "I'm here every day,'' said Hildy Martus of Belmont. "We can't miss it. They're like our kids.''

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