Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What we feared is true: the tiercel's accident

Through the kindness of strangers.... 
This was never more true than when Mike Thierfelder posted information this morning on the Hawkaholic facebook page that told us what had happened to Dad.  Mike joined the group so that he could share this sad news about witnessing the tiercel's end early Saturday morning on the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) that runs right by the Art Museum just across the river.
"Hello, I have unfortunate news about what happened to Dad. On Saturday morning at about 6:30 AM I was driving east on I-76 when I witnessed a Red Tail Hawk struck and killed by a small truck in the left lane several car lengths ahead of me. The location was just west of the 30th Street underpass, between the BFP [Ben Franklin Parkway] split and the 30th Street on- ramp. Given the location and timing this was certainly Dad.

The bird came out from under the truck, skidded across the road ahead of me and ended on the right shoulder. I am positive it was a red tail. He may still be there on the shoulder."
Emily Spahr also  joined the Facebook page to tell us: "I saw the bird there at approx noon on Saturday morning. Same exact position you saw."
Mike and Emily also contacted the Franklin Institute to share this information. Huge thanks go to them from us all for their persistence in figuring out how to get this news to the hawk fans and the Franklin Institute. 
Carolyn Sutton went out this morning to see if she could find the tiercel's remains, but was unsuccessful.  There are several work crews in that area, so someone probably picked him up.  Now that there is so much publicity about this sad event, we may learn more in the coming days.
Carolyn shared these observations:
"Just returned from driving the area of I-76 described by Mike. Most definitely the red-tail killed there was Dad; it was so VERY much his primary hunting ground - directly across the river from the Schuylkill Banks Park across the off-ramp from Spring Garden Bridge next to the Art Museum where we have watched him so many times over four years. Unfortunately, although I drove the route twice, there was no sign of Dad on the shoulder of the road. There are many construction crews/lane closures in area, and I believe some worker or other cleaned up the remains. The area there was very clean (no trash, litter, anything) considering the 24/7 traffic.     Though I am heartbroken, it is not hard for me to understand that Dad was killed in this way. I have seen him swoop low in pursuit of prey across traffic lanes in this area on many occasions over four  years. The traffic is fast moving and non-stop, 24/7.  We stalkers have witnessed many close calls and I thank the Lord every day that the FI hawks were so successful for four years."
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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.



  2. Thanks for all of the wonderful posts and for the beautiful pictures. This is so heartbreaking, but at least we know what happened. And thank you to Cardi (Carolyn) for the dangerous mission of trying to find the remains of our beloved Dad. You are all amazing, dedicated people and we are so fortunate to have you documenting the lives of "our" Red Tailed Hawks. Peace and many bright blessings to you all!

  3. Thank you, Della and Kay, and all contributors to the informative and entertaining FI Hawk site, and especially for the tribute. I believe there's a special place in heaven for wild animals, and our "Dad" is there forever, flying free and safe, looking over his offspring. Good luck to the FI Hawk family as they face this crisis.

    1. Della and Carolyn, thanks for the news. It made me cry (again) to read the tribute. My heart breaks for Mom, probably confused and sad that dad's no longer with them and knowing the daunting job ahead of her. She at least will have the support of her human friends to help her with hunting if need be.

  4. I'm glad at least we were able to find out what happened. And that it was quick and hopefully painless. And thanks to all the faithful hawk watchers in Philly! You all knew that was his hunting grounds and the evidence matched up. That is dedication. And much appreciated. Here's to Mom and her babies. And to the people who will dedicate their time in helping the babies have a healthy fledge!

  5. Thank you to everybody who worked to report to us what happened. It helps. It is ironic that the most experienced flyer didn't make it, while his past three sets of eyasses fledged successfully (one with human help, last year) and managed to not get hit by cars while they learned to hunt, clumsily, each early summer. I remember Cardi the Devoted standing in the Parkway to keep cars from going near one of the eyasses who chose to take a walk along the breakdown lane, or hunt a few sticks. We will be vigilant again when they leave the nest! We miss you, fierce tiercel.

  6. I just spotted the mate on the FI ledge today. I had the good fortune a couple of months ago of witnessing the pair mate on the top of the Family Court Building across the parkway. I saw one land, pulled over and parked so my children could see and lo and behold...
    I hope there are chicks and that they will survive this tragic loss.

    1. Nice story. There are chicks! Three beautiful little bobbleheads, just like the previous three seasons from the same pair. Let's hope for clement weather, as this nest will be unprotected more than usual.

  7. Soar high great spirit, bird of prey.
    On the thermals you climb...
    Like the endless rainbow that claws its way across the heavens, you ride upon the breath of the earth.

    Soar high great spirit, bird of prey.
    Embrace your seat above...
    Your tail will forever paint the sky, like the glistening rays of the sun.

    So soar high great spirit, bird of prey.
    Your legacy lives on...
    In the quills of your offspring is where you'll find your peace and the eyes of your mate will always see your devotion.

    1. George, perfect tribute.

    2. Sandra (WA State)May 3, 2012 at 4:58 PM


  8. Perfect poem, George, for a perfect hawk.
    Thank you.....

  9. I write this with tears in my eyes, but much love and gratitude in my heart for our wonderful Dad.
    He brought the first twig to that window ledge 4 years ago, and invited us all into his family....

    What a wonderful experience it has been, we were truly blessed to have known them. I'll cherish those
    moments forever. Rest in Peace Dear Friend.

  10. Have to say Thank You to all who have contributed to the unfolding story of "our" esteemed papa hawk. I've cam-watched, read the delightful narratives on Della's fabulous blog, been in awe of the photographers' work and how they have captured the lives of the FI hawks, enjoyed the caring/informative chats, and feel like a fellow passenger on a boat of entranced fans. Thank you, one and all reporters, for the sensitive, caring way this tragic story has unfolded...the journey continues with all those supports that will show the story of our single mom hawk, 3 growing baby hawks, and am so grateful for the FI support! Ann in Devon

  11. Thank you Kay Meng and Della Micah and everyone who kept us updated on the Franklin Hawk Family.
    My heart is broken, I shall miss them dearly. It is such a privilege to have this bit of wildlife come into my home each day. Where else can we actually observe a hawk nest in the comfort of our own homes? Where else could we watch the little ones grow and finally fledge, made ready to face the world by such experienced and dutiful parents?
    I do hope FI will keep the cam up so we may follow the Formel and eyeass's.
    Also hope Kay and Della will continue the blog.
    Thank you so much for all you have done.
    Linda In CA.

  12. Tears in my eyes as I read this.
    At least we know what happened.
    An unforgettable bird.
    Thank you all for your continued
    dedication to his little family.
    A privilege to witness their daily

  13. Pat Laird (Deerhounder)May 3, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    I can only echo all the others who wrote so well. I am grateful also that we know what happened to dad. I will remember him and all those on this site forever.

    God bless all.

  14. My heart goes out also to Della, Kay, Cardi, and all the others who have created such a beautiful and loving record of these wonderful birds' lives over the past four years. Their sadness must be many times ours. There aren't enough thank yous for your work.

    Dad is at peace; Mom is struggling. Will continue to watch, and visit, and pray that the little ones make it.

    It has been a privilege.

  15. i drove by on my way to the annenberg center on sun 6pm and saw a large bird on the right shoulder, i think it was near the spring garden exit ramp. at a glance, i thought it was a wild turkey that had been hit, i saw some of the feathers sticking up. it was relatively large and sort curled up. i told my daughter about it, now i know who it was. peace

  16. Although terribly saddened by the loss of Dad, I am enormously grateful for all the joy he and his mate have given me and my family over the years. I rush at the chance to give back to that family and I can't tell you all (every one of you who have made our seeing, discussing, studying of these hawks possible) how lucky I feel that you are giving us the opportunity to make donations to help her as she has helped me experience the privelege of witnessing their lives for the past 4 years.